Why did you decide to write a book about confidence for other women?
When I was Miss USA I used to do a lot of motivational speaking and I would always tell my story because I feel it’s one of hope and inspiration. I grew up with a single mother and faced a lot of struggles. It’s a story that is way too common, especially among Latinos. A lot of times when I was speaking there were a single moms in the audience and kids that came from a similar environment that I came from. I just started thinking about it and wanted to write a book to specifically talk about what it was that I did to get from point A to point B. Being Miss USA and working as an MTV VJ for so many years, I gathered a lot of fans along the way and I want to try and inspire them to reach for their goals, to never stop or give up. Nothing that’s amazing and worthwhile comes easy.
What do you feel was the turning point in your life?
One of my best friends started just going down the wrong path once we got to high school. Whether it was drinking, or smoking, or getting into gangs. She got pregnant when she was 15. She had four kids by the time she was 21 with a guy that was in and out of jail. Drug dealing, violence, I would walk home from school and that’s what I would see. The biggest obstacle was not giving into that kind of lifestyle. You couldn’t go around telling everybody that you wanted more for yourself because then people in the neighborhood think, “What? Is she better than me? She thinks she’s all high and mighty!” You had to keep your dreams like on the down low. That was really difficult, not giving into that peer pressure. It takes a lot of strength to say no to people that you’ve been friends with since kindergarten.
So do you have any words of advice for a girl who may not be the most confident lady in the world? What would be some initial pointers to get her to come out of her shell?
Oh yeah, there is a whole section that speaks about this in my book! Everyone has their own comfort zone. I picture my comfort zone as a circle on the ground, and then I take one little step out of that circle. You take baby steps outside of that circle and little by little your comfort zone grows and sooner or later you'll find yourself comfortable doing anything. You just have to take baby steps. Specifically, if there’s a guy at school that you like, maybe next time you see him in the hallway you should smile. Who knows? Maybe he’ll smile back. If you have never even made eye contact, start with that. Then, next time try eye contact and a smile, so you have to continue to take steps forward. Confrontation is something I have always been bad at. It’s something I have been working on constantly to get more confortable with, broadening my comfort zone.
Great advice! Do you have anything new and exciting coming up on the horizon?
Yeah! I actually just shot an independent film called The Heartbreaker, in Boston and it comes out in 2009.
We’ll be sure to keep an eye out! One last question, if you could do anything, what would be your ultimate dream job?
To be a series regular on a TV show comedy. I love to be goofy and make people laugh. My mom is one of the goofiest people I know. Sometimes I’m like, “Mom, stop it! Stop, stop what you’re doing!” (laughs) I get embarrassed. I actually take an improv comedy class at The Groundling. That would be my ultimate dream to be on a sitcom. And then when it’s on hiatus, do a film.That would be great!
To learn more about Susie visit her website susiecastillo.net!