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Nina Pierino: Miss Buffalo

Get to know a Buffalonian...

A 19-year-old vocalist and business administration student at Hilbert College, Pierino is the reigning Miss Buffalo—a title she won last September at the National Buffalo Wing Festival. The native of Chaffee is seeking to be the first Miss Buffalo to be crowned Miss New York since Channel 2’s own Mary Alice Demler in 1989. If victorious at the state pageant in Albany, June 24-26, Pierino will then have the honor of competing for Miss America.

How did you get involved in the pageant scene? Was Miss Buffalo your first competition?

Miss Buffalo was my very first pageant I have ever competed in. I have always wanted to be involved in pageants ever since I can remember. Although I have taken part in talent competitions before, this was very different. My voice teacher Debbie Bello encouraged me to enter. The talent category of the competition is a large percentage of the scoring so I think she knew I could do well. The 12 minute interview with the Judges Panel was also very challenging and I was looking forward to putting myself to the test. It has been such a fun, great, and rewarding experience and I am so glad that I finally got to do what I have always wanted to.

What are some of the things you are doing to prepare for the Miss New York State Pageant in June?

I have been very hard at work for the past couple of months. Since the talent and interview are the two most important categories, I’m dedicating a lot of time polishing my talent performance—I’ll be singing the country music classic “Blue”. I also spend time pretty much every day preparing for the interview— keeping up with current events and making sure I have well-formed opinions on social issues. I have been doing all of these things while going to school full time as well as working my part time job.

What does it mean to you to be able to represent Buffalo at the state level?

It is really a huge honor for me to be able to represent Buffalo at the state level. I have lived here all of my life and I truly love this city. It is also a huge honor as well as a great responsibility to represent the young women of Buffalo and Erie County . I feel the pressure of being a good role model and representing our area as best as I possibly can, but mostly I am excited and proud to be called “Miss Buffalo”.

Are you a typical “ Buffalo girl” and if so, what does that mean? What are some things about ladies from Western New York that make them better than all the rest?

Hmm... a typical Buffalo girl? I do not think there is one that exists. There are many women from diverse backgrounds that live here and I think everyone is unique and special in their own way. I do however, think that after living in Buffalo for a while, a woman adopts certain traits. I think there is a “no nonsense” quality that a lot of Buffalo women share. I think most of the Buffalo women I know are real and down to earth. I think one thing is for certain, Buffalo girls score points for determination for dealing with the harsh Buffalo winters and if they were not a sports fan before living in the Queen City , we’ll make you one!

Tell us a little bit about your interest in singing.

Singing is truly my passion. I have been singing all of my life and I absolutely love music. For me, performing is one of the best feelings in the world. I also love to be able to share my talents with other people. To make them happy through certain songs and music truly puts a smile on my face. I previously had the chance to sing with the country show band Copperhead Road. It was a great learning experience and taught me so much about the professional music scene. I am so grateful I had an opportunity like that at such a young age.

How do you feel about the swimsuit portion of pageants? Do you feel that they are degrading to women?

Nerve wracking, yes. Degrading, no. I really believe that the swimsuit portion of the pageant has come a long way in recent years. I believe that the Miss American Organization really emphasizes the importance of fitness and a healthy lifestyle through this part of the pageant. As far as feeling degraded goes... we’re on stage for a total of 20 seconds for this competition-- that’s far less time than I’ve ever spent walking along the beach in my bikini! While I think it is every contestant’s fear to stand in front of hundreds of people in her swimsuit, it takes a lot of self-confidence to do so which I think is a very positive thing. I think it’s difficult to make the case that a pretty modest swimsuit competition is hurting the cause of feminism.

Does it ever get overly competitive or catty behind the scenes at a pageant?

I can’t speak for every pageant competition, because this is my first experience, but I had a great time competing for Miss Buffalo during the National Buffalo Wing Fest last September. Every contestant was a college student looking to earn scholarship money and they were all pretty serious about their career aspirations and performing well on stage. Some of them were “pageant veterans” and I enjoyed hearing about their experiences in other Miss America Preliminary competitions. They were all pretty friendly and in their own zone during the contest. It was a pretty hectic schedule, too... not a lot of time for distraction. Getting to be involved in the Miss New York State Pageant is a once and a lifetime chance, why get caught up in unnecessary drama? It is not worth it.

Is there a Mr. Buffalo in your life? How would one go about charming a classy Western New York lady such as yourself?

Currently there is no Mr. Buffalo in my life. First and foremost I need someone who is honest. Relationships truly are all about trust. Aside from that, being down to earth, respectful, well-mannered, intelligent, and charming are all very important qualities to me. To be honest, right now my dating life is on hold until after the pageant in June, and then if I were fortunate enough to win, after the Miss America Pageant in January. Then hopefully my Mr. Buffalo will come along!

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