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Rasa Fournier

Born To Wear A Crown

“I was always super thin,” Acosta points out, “but when I hit puberty, I began getting very curvy. I embrace my curves, but I like to keep a slender figure. Everyone thinks I’m naturally skinny. I was, once upon a time, but I want people to know I definitely have to work to maintain my figure.”

She attributes her curves to her Latin heritage – Papa is Mexican, Mom is a “European mix” – and her radiant skin to natural products and tips from friends in the beauty industry. But her primary beauty secret is: Get enough sleep. Sticking to that advice has been a feat of its own lately, what with college graduation, a lively modeling career, attendance as a titleholder at numerous charity events and public functions, as well as preparing for a send-off party.

The send-off party is for Acosta, but this year marks another send-off, a bittersweet goodbye to Kobayashi and Chandler, who are retiring after 15 years as executive directors of the Miss Hawaii USA pageant, and many more years than that designing gowns for contestants. After battling health problems over the past couple of years, the two have deemed it time to pass the baton to the young, in the form of 2003 Miss Hawaii USA Alicia Michioka.

The two men have given of their time and finances generously, they’ve “worried for the girls, protected them when we traveled, helped them through boyfriend issues,” says Kobayashi. “We enjoyed the experience tremendously, the fabulous clothes, the fabulous people and our committee. I have good memories and treasured friends who are former title-holders. I think Miss Hawaii USA Brianna Acosta will forever be our friend, as she is sweet and honest, and her beauty comes from inside out.”

Acosta’s send-off party is May 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Pearl Ultralounge, featuring a fashion show, food, live entertainment and more. Tickets cost $30 ($40 at the door) at Manuheali’i (930 Punahou St.) and Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa. For more information, contact Brianna Acosta at brian-naacostamisshiusa@gmail.com or Jenny Lynn at kaipuna@aol.com.

BEHIND THE SCENE with BRIANNA ACOSTA:

Tell us about your boyfriend.

Aaron Trigg. We waited tables together while I was in college. People call him Mr. Hawaii; he has to get used to it. I’ve had previous boyfriends who, when they knew I wanted to be Miss Hawaii, they looked at it in a bad way or would get jealous. Having a strong individual to support you definitely helps.

What is the most nerve-wracking part of the pageant?

During the pageant, some people say, ‘Oh, I was just having fun up there and then I won,’ but for me it was such a big goal, such a big dream, and I had prepared for so long. The hard part was to be able to enjoy the experience.

The hardest thing once you have the crown is people attack you critically for your (looks). There are forums and message boards. I’ve heard everything. You have to have tough skin.

How awkward or not is the bikini segment?

When I’m going to the beach, I never think about it. On the North Shore where I’m from, everyone walks around in a bikini. When you’re being judged in the fitness portion, everyone has a personal preference. Do they want a skinny girl? Do they want a womanly body? Do I need abs? I just try to look the best I can.

Let’s talk about clothing.

My directors, Takeo Kobayashi and Eric Chandler, gave me gowns, and a lot of people donate. I was lucky to get sponsors like Maya Bella Boutique and Beloved Boutique. I’ll be in Las Vegas for 16 days. At two outfits a day, you’re looking at packing at least 32 outfits. And of course, every day you want to look like Miss USA, so it’s not just 32 catwalks, it’s 32 amazing outfits.

What is the first thing you’ll eat when the pageant ends?

Chocolate!

What happens during the two weeks in Vegas?

We do photo shoots for the pictures everyone will see online. We have rehearsals every day and charity and gala events with sponsors or affiliates of the Miss Universe organization. Toward the end we have our preliminaries and then the actual pageant June 16.

If you win, then what?

You’re immediately flown to New York, where you have a salaried position and live in Trump Tower for a year. You do media and charity events and suddenly everyone knows who you are. I’m looking forward to it.

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