On June 3rd 2019 the Italian community of LA celebrated the historic day, back in 1946, when a pivotal referendum decided the fate of Italy about...
Giuliana Regina from Whittier may seem like the typical young adult. She attends college with the hope to someday go to law school, and aids her parents in their restaurant during her free time. However, Giuliana has a responsibility that only a few others share: representing young Italian American women in this year’s Miss. Italia USA in New York, as Miss Italia California 2015.
How do you promote and create an awareness of Italian heritage and culture?
Once people hear that I hold the Miss Italia California title, they begin to inquire about how I came to achieve the title, and what it’s like being full-blooded Italian. I think most people are too shy to ask where a person is from out of fear of offending someone and so I was never really asked “Where are you from?” unless it was from community members my own age who I was beginning to build friendships with. With the title though I feel people are a little more open with their curiosity and are more comfortable asking ethnicity-related questions.
Beauty pageants are known for being great role models in their community. What do you consider to be your contribution to the LA community?
I would have to say that my best contribution to the community, as of now, is being a student. That sounds a little strange but what I mean to say is that by continuing my education for a higher degree I can then enter the working community and help make changes that will be apt for the new generations of graduated scholars after me. Opinions and policy matters are constantly changing and as they change new, fresh, voices will need to be the leading forces behind them – and that is where this generation of graduating scholars will fall into place in a few years. Granted, it will be a gradual change, but I truly believe that it is my contribution, as well as that of my university peers, to the County.
Your parents immigrated to the United States from Saracena, in the Province of Cosenza in Calabria, Italy. Is there anything you wish from Saracena to be in the LA community?
I have been blessed enough to have been able to visit the homeland many times, and each time I go I appreciate it more. My favorite part of town is known as l’acqua nova, similar to what would be called in English a ‘Town Square’. That’s where they have their festivals, and you can find small gelato shops everywhere, little nooks to play pool or fusball, and hang out with your friends. The ambiance of the setting is what I wish I could bring back the most; everyone knows everyone and parents aren’t afraid to let their kids be out with their friends because everyone is looking out for each other. It’s all one big family.
What advice would you give to young Italian Americans who are working towards their dreams and preserve their heritage and culture while embracing the customs of this Country?
I would tell them not to be ashamed of their heritage. Don’t be afraid to correct people about what real Italian dishes are or about a negative stereotype. And most definitely don’t be ashamed to speak the language! I would say that you don’t have to give up your Italian culture and heritage in order to work toward your dream – if anything, you should hold on tight to it because you can bring something more to the table, you can bring a new perspective and viewpoint by being able to think and see through the lenses of two different cultures. And you definitely don’t need to give up your Italian culture to embrace the culture of this Country: having both makes for more interesting conversations and fusions of dishes to try.
What does to represent Italian Americans of California in New York mean to you and where will you be competing with 50 other Miss Italia State titleholders?
I’ll admit it comes with quite a bit of pressure once it’s put into perspective, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s exciting, and it means so much to me that I am the one who has been given the opportunity to represent Italian-American women in California, and young women in general, to show that there’s more to pageants than the stereotypes make believe. It’s also such a great opportunity to showcase our beloved heritage and remind people that there is more to Italians than what is portrayed by the media. I also hope to serve as a reminder and inspiration to Italian-Americans not to forget their roots, their culture, and their language just so they can “fit-in”. If someone does not want to associate with you because of your culture don’t succumb to conformity and forget who you are and the beautiful culture you come from so they’ll stay; it’s their loss, they’re the ones missing out on the homemade macaroni al pomodoro fresco. That just means, more for you!