Meet The 2014-2015 National All-American Miss Celinda Ortega!

NAM: Tell us about yourself:
Celinda:  I’m an optimistic, driven, 20 year old college junior at Montclair State University majoring in public relations and minoring in acting. On campus I am proud to be involved in the National Honor Society, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the Latin American Student Organization, environmental club, and fashion club.  I’m an aspiring film actress, so after school, I’m usually running around in New York City for modeling and acting gigs, classes, auditions, and shoots. I’ve been honored to be a part of awesome projects such as dancing as a little monster for Lady Gaga at the VMA’s, working in shows like Celebrity Ghost Stories, Power, The Carrie Diaries, and films like The Wolf of Wall Street and The Other Woman, and a couple Indie films coming out next year! Some of my hobbies include yoga, swimming, and cooking.  Of course, being a Jersey girl I love shopping, eating tons of pizza, and spending time down at our beautiful shores with my family during my spare time.  I also love being involved in my community.  Some of my favorite places to volunteer at are Halfway Hounds, a dog rescue organization that helps homeless dogs or dogs who have been in abusive conditions around the tri-state area find loving homes; doing yoga with the elderly every Fridays at my local senior center, Brightside Manor, and mentoring elementary and middle school girls in urban communities through self-esteem workshops and arts programs to motivate and encourage underprivileged youth.  One thing I have always wanted to do is travel around the country, so I am excited to spend my year touring various state pageants and meeting other amazing, ambitious girls like me!

NAM: What activities are you involved in?
Celinda: At school, I’m an active member of the National Honor Society, PRSA, fashion club, Latin American Student Organization, and the environmental club. Off campus, I take pride in training and taking care of dogs at Halfway Hounds, coordinating self -esteem workshops in urban schools with Miss Lucky Star Pageant, and helping the elderly stay fit and positive at my local senior center. I am also training in acting to further develop my career in television and film.

NAM: What are your plans for the future? 
Celinda: Once I complete my bachelor’s degree at Montclair State University, I am going to pursue my master’s degree in public and organizational relations. I also plan on furthering my career as a television/film actress.

NAM: How would your friends describe you? 
Celinda: My friends would probably tell you that I’m a busy-bee, since I manage a tight schedule. You should see my planner, it’s covered in ink! They would also tell you I’m the optimistic one in the group. I always try my best to see the glass half full in every situation. My friends would also say that I am a loyal and honest friend, who although extremely busy, always makes time to help my friends in need or give them honest advice.

NAM: What motto or quote best describes you?
Celinda:  A saying that resonates with me is one by one of my role models, Audrey Hepburn. “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible.” It may sound cliché, but being someone who has been told that my dreams are too far-fetched, it motivates me to not give up.

Top 5 National All-American Miss 2015 

NAM: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Celinda: In high school, I did not really have the most supportive friend group. My ‘friends’ at the time thought my goal of becoming a big television/film actress was ridiculous and unrealistic and they would even get upset if I chose to go to an acting class or prepare for an audition instead of hanging out with them. After school during one of my drama rehearsals, my drama teacher noticed I was down and asked if I wanted to talk about it, after venting about my feelings she told me a piece of advice that I would instill in my life from then on; “surround yourself only by those who bring out the best in you and believe in you.” I took this advice to heart and started to make new friends who were actually excited about my goals and actually pushed me to go further. Today I am blessed to have such a strong support group around me that helps me thrive.

NAM: How did you prepare for the NAM National pageant?
Celinda: I did a lot of pageant research and asked for advice from several previous winners. I recited my introduction almost 24/7 and walked in my formal wear heels whenever I was home. I would practice my walk and intro in front of a mirror to make sure I was pleased with my delivery. My mother and sister helped me prepare for interview by asking me tons of questions and giving me feedback on my responses.  I even took a couple of skype lessons with previous NAM winner, Hoang Kim Cung to further sharpen up my skills.

NAM: Where is your favorite place to shop?
Celinda: Urban Outfitters and H&M are my go-to stores for my everyday wardrobe needs! They have basics like flannels, tights and button-ups, as well as edgier pieces that I can mix and match with my eclectic wardrobe.     

NAM: How have pageants shaped your life?
Celinda: The first time I walked out on the NAM stage, it made me realize how much I love performing in front of an audience. Not only did it help me identify my career path (acting), it shaped the major I would select in college one day (public relations/communications).  It instilled that drive in me to continue competing until I earned a title, improved my public speaking skills, and has helped me cross paths with other girls with similar goals, many of whom have become my close friends.

NAM: What is your most prized possession?
Celinda: Aside from my National All-American Miss crown and banner, one item that is very valuable to me is a necklace given to me by my Tia Carolina during a family reunion in Dominican Republic eight years ago. It was first and last time I got to see my relatives that don’t live in the United States. On the last day of our trip, it was a very emotional day, as we were all saying our goodbyes. My aunt came up to me, took off the beautiful gold necklace she was wearing and placed it on me. She told me to keep it as a keepsake to remember her by, and I couldn’t help but get emotional. It made me feel so special that she chose me to give her necklace to, and every time I wear it, it reminds me of the wonderful memories I made with my family during that special trip.
Sister Queens!

NAM: What is your favorite movie?
Celinda: Titanic is a film that I will always love and will never get sick of, no matter how many times I watch it.  Everything from the plot, costumes, set, direction, and performance is perfect to me.

NAM: What is your favorite TV show? 
Celinda:  Every Tuesday nights people know I can’t make plans because my sister and I have to watch Pretty Little Liars!  I am very into thrillers and mysteries and PLL gives me both. My sister and I love trying to figure out who the mysterious “A” villain is and coming up with plot theories!

NAM: What is your favorite book? 
Celinda: A couple years ago I came across this book in a library called How to Get the Part Without Falling Apart by Margie Haber.  I just love the advice she gives for aspiring actors as well as stories from now-famous actors that she’s worked with, like Halle Berry, Brad Pitt and Vince Vaughn, telling how they got their start and the struggles they had to go through to get where they are now.  I ended up purchasing the book on Amazon so I can have my own hardcopy to highlight and take notes on it. Her technique for acting has helped me advance in this field immensely. For any actors who still have not found the perfect technique for them and want to develop their acting skills, I definitely recommend this book!

NAM: What advice do you have for future NAM girls?
Celinda: My advice for future NAM girls is to relax, focus on having a good time, making friends, and most importantly, walk like you’re already wearing that NAM crown and banner and exude confidence. You have to remember that you are already a winner.  All throughout my week at nationals I imagined that I was wearing the National All-American Miss crown and banner every time I was on stage and I was just making an appearance. I really feel that just having fun and truly believing in myself, instead of worrying about “the competition” made the difference this year than the previous times I’ve competed.

NAM: If you could be famous for anything what would it be?
Celinda: I would like to be famous for my work in television and film.

The Crowning Moment! 
NAM: What is your dream job?
Celinda: To be cast as a lead in a New York Times best-selling novel made into a feature film directed by Martin Scorsese alongside Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep. That would be my dream job!

NAM: How do you plan to use your title?
Celinda: I plan to use the exposure to continue promoting NAM’s values. I would encourage girls to believe in themselves, embrace their individuality, help make a difference, which in turn will increase their confidence. I will also strive to raise awareness to my platform, ocean and marine life conservation, as well as the other organizations I work closely with like Halfway Hounds and Miss Lucky Star.

NAM: How do you volunteer in your community?
Celinda: I volunteer on an ongoing basis with Halfway Hounds, Brightside Manor Senior Home, and Miss Lucky Star. I also participate in local food drives, walks, or other events that pop up in my local area.

NAM: What is your most embarrassing moment? 
Celinda: One time I was in New York City, shooting an interview for this Bravo documentary called Model Walk, which was a one hour segment that followed around a few models (one of them being me) going to castings and jobs. It was to show the struggles and not so glamorous situations that models go through when they’re starting out. Anyway, I hosting an interview, and I didn’t know that we were live and already filming, and they had a really big close up of me digging my nose in HD! It was so embarrassing and everyone on set was cracking up, but now I know that once you get on that stage, even if you don’t know if you’re on air or not, don’t do anything embarrassing because you’re always being watched!

NAM: What is your favorite subject in school?
Celinda: I have been taking some religion courses these past couple semesters and it has quickly become one of my favorite subjects. I love learning about different perspectives of creation, the spirit world, and various philosophical views from around the world.

NAM:  If you had three wishes what would you wish for? 
Celinda: My first wish would be to restore all the Earth’s natural resources that have been rapidly depleting due to excess consumption.  Even though we have been making a lot of greener moves, there is still more to improve if we don’t want to run out of vital raw materials.
            My second wish would be to make animal cruelty disappear. Volunteering so many hours at local animal shelters has opened my eyes to how unfortunately common animal abuse is. It breaks my heart seeing the sweetest animals come in to our shelter covered in burns, stab wounds, or just barely any body mass at all due to owners who starved them.
 My third wish would be to make every single human realize we’re all equal.   I was almost going to wish to become an extremely successful actress, but I’m confident that will happen without wishing on it.

NAM: What is your biggest fear? 
Celinda: I have an extremely serious phobia of butterflies and moths. 

NAM: Who is your role model?
Celinda: Ever since the age of 8 when I first saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I became obsessed with Audrey Hepburn and started reading her biographies! Many people may see her as just a pretty face or a fashion icon, but she was much more than that! Hepburn was also an advocate for women’s rights and self-confidence and very dedicated to making a difference. For instance, she worked as a UNICEF ambassador for years. Not only do I admire her for being a humanitarian, but also for what she has accomplished in the entertainment industry. Did you know she is 1 of only 12 people in the world to ever win an Oscar, Toni, Grammy, and Emmy? I hope to someday attain a legacy similar to Audrey Hepburn’s.

NAM: If you could go back in time to any time period what would it be and why?
Celinda: I have always been attracted to the nineties era, especially the Seattle music scene. I would have loved to be a college student in Seattle during the early nineties and witness the emergence of Sub Pop and the major Seattle bands such as Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone, Nirvana and Soundgarden, to name a few. I know I was born in the nineties, and most people would probably expect me to pick a time period that was not so recent, but I love almost every aspect of the nineties. I think it was a great time for music, fashion, television and film.  

NAM: If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
Celinda: I would love to have dinner with Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, my three favorite actors.

The 2014-2015 National All-American Miss

NAM: What is your favorite part about National American Miss?
Celinda: Competition-wise, my favorite part is personal introduction.  I enjoy public speaking and getting to sell my elevator pitch on stage! Outside the competition, I love getting to meet so many awesome, driven girls my age during check in and orientation. It is a great time to meet goal-oriented girls who are making a difference have a lot in common with you.

NAM: How did you get started with NAM? How long have you been involved?
Celinda: I first got involved with National American Miss when I was around 8 years old. I received a letter in the mail saying that a friend had recommended me to join. It was perfect timing because I had just finished all my dance recitals and I was really missing being on stage. 
It also appealed to me seeing the girls on the letter laughing and having a good time together with trophies and crowns. I begged my mom to sign me up and she said she would after she did more research online. I guess she found good testimonials because that summer I competed in my first NAM pageant as a NJ junior preteen. Even though I didn’t place, I loved the experience so much that I tried again the following year in the NJ preteen division and earned a spot in the top 15.  I took a break from NAM to focus on acting, but a couple NAM friends persuaded me to get back into it. So in 2012 and 2013, I came back with more confidence and competed in NJ teen twice and placed both years but did not win the state title. Even though I never won the New Jersey title, I was confident that I had the capabilities of being a NAM titleholder. I decided to apply for the Miss division.  Once again I placed as a runner up but did not win the state title, but since I was determined to make this goal come true, I didn’t want to stop there. I decided to go for All-American Miss this year, and finally, the dream came true. I finally became a NAM titleholder, (A NATIONAL titleholder!) after my fifth try.  I am so grateful I never gave up or lost faith in myself.

NAM: What is your definition of a NAM girl?
Celinda: NAM girls are determined and ambitious. They will not give up until they achieve the goals they’ve set. Even if they do fail sometimes, they get up and keep working hard and putting in the effort it takes until they have finally achieved their dreams. They love making life beautiful for others by making a difference and spreading kindness.  NAM girls are confident in themselves, embrace their individuality and inspire others to do the same.

NAM: What do you like to do for fun?
Celinda: I love going shopping with my sister, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially through yoga; I also have a big passion for cooking! I started out cooking Dominican family recipes that my grandmother passed down to me, and now I cook a plethora of dishes from different cultural cuisines.

NAM: What makes your state unique?
Celinda: New Jersey has the most diners in the world, the most shopping malls, the longest boardwalk, amazing beaches, and we’re the only state where every county is a metropolitan area. I love the fact that I am 15 minutes away from New York City and super close to other great metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. Yet, I am also 15 minutes away from rural farm areas.  I love being a Jersey girl. 

NAM: What is your favorite food?
Celinda: I’m such a big foodie so it’s so hard to choose just one! But if I had to pick it would be spicy sushi!

NAM: What makes you laugh?
Celinda: Watching old Spongebob episodes, and funny baby animal videos on Youtube!

NAM: What was your first thought you had when you captured your national title?

NAM: People would be surprised to know what about you?
Celinda: I was almost going to major in biochemistry in college before I decided on PR. Communications majors, for some reason, have a reputation of favoring English/writing and loathing math and science, so I tend to surprise many people, especially other communications majors when they figure out how big of a math and science aficionado I am.

Watch the Celinda's Crowning Moment! 


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