I am ecstatic to share this interview with AnnaNoel Olson, current Miss Alameda County Teen USA, former Miss Beverly Hills Teen USA, and current Miss San Diego Teen USA. The beautiful Bay Area native will be competing for Miss California Teen USA in January and it’s my pleasure to share our conversation which spanned her experiences in pageantry to date. AnnaNoel does great work as an Anti-Bullying advocate and also cares about causes that span from the homelessness crisis to ending human trafficking through her social justice platform #endinjustice. She generously shared her experience with the health condition POTS (Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) and her advocacy for the condition. AnnaNoel’s star is certainly on the rise and it’s clear that she will continue doing great things. Please enjoy our interview as much as we enjoyed speaking to one another.
Best of luck at Miss California Teen USA this January, AnnaNoel, we will be cheering you on. Follow AnnaNoel on Instagram @annanoellll
Bianca: How long have you been competing in pageantry?
AnnaNoel: Well this will be my fourth year at Miss California Teen USA this January and I didn’t grow up doing pageants, it was not like a Toddlers and Tiaras situation! I actually grew up doing martial arts, so this is not something I was around or anyone I knew did. I was just reading about it online and I was fascinated with Miss USA and Miss Universe and I asked myself, “How can I do this?” I kind of just jumped in and I don’t have the background that a lot of the girls have. Long story short, this will be my fourth year.
To give you some background on pageants, I compete in the Miss Universe Organization pageants. There are other systems like Miss America and Miss International, those are different systems. I’ve noticed those tend to have the girls that have been doing it growing up. I have found that the girls who are competing for Miss USA, the majority of them didn’t grow up doing it and many are also pursuing a modeling career.
Bianca: What would you say is your overarching career ambition?
AnnaNoel: There are two different categories. I definitely want to pursue modeling and sign to an agency, which I am working on currently, but have never seen modeling as my long term career. It’s never been like “oh I’m not going to college, I’m just going to pursue modeling,” that’s never been like that for me. I would love to make it in modeling though. I am currently a sophomore in college and I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I know whatever career I go into, I am changing someone’s life or impacting their life in a really positive way.
I’m interested in becoming a Registered Nurse or potentially going further into medical school or something in psychology or law. Pretty much anything that requires a lot of school! I definitely don’t see myself working a 9-5pm job behind a desk, I would like to do something more hands on and it’s something that I know I am making an impact and that my purpose is changing people’s lives. I’m figuring out what that is right now and I have so many interests. I am 18 years old, to be quite honest, I don’t know exactly what I want to do, and I think that’s totally fine. I feel like many times young people are pressured to figure out exactly how they are going to spend the rest of their life. I’ve seen that this often leads to people picking a career they are unsure about which I definitely don’t want to do. Broadly, I know I want to impact people’s lives everyday.
I am currently doing my general education online with Las Positas Community College right now and in April, I’ll be moving to Los Angeles and will transfer to Santa Monica Community College and plan to transfer to a university in LA.
Bianca: Speaking of Northern California and Southern California, you are also a Bay Area native. What would you say is your favorite part about California?
AnnaNoel: I grew up in California and I genuinely cannot see myself living anywhere else. Once you grew up here, it’s like, how could you leave California? I think it’s just so incredible that I have so many different interests and so many different environments to enjoy. For example, I love snowmobiling and I can drive a couple hours and I am at the snow. I am obsessed with the beach and I could go there in 30-45 min, and when I move in a few months, I will be even closer!
I feel like the people of California really come together when something happens, too. For example, I volunteered to help with the Paradise fires and seeing people from all backgrounds coming together was just so incredible to watch and see everyone putting aside their differences and seeing that really warms my heart. I feel like the people of California have that unique trait of coming together. I would never want to live anywhere else, it’s just amazing!
Bianca: Do you have any suggestions for best places to visit in Northern California?
AnnaNoel: I am obsessed with Santana Row in San Jose, I just love walking around and seeing everyone in the community there, it’s just such a cute area. I also really love this hiking area in Sunol that has this beautiful waterfall, it’s actually called Little Yosemite.
I also love this place in Oakland called Plank, it’s an arcade and bowling alley for adults. It’s basically kids stuff, but made cool for adults and I love that. I think it’s so fun. I don’t think because you grow up, you need to leave any of that behind. They’re not just for kids.
Bianca: You have modeled quite a bit! What has been your favorite photo shoot theme thus far?
AnnaNoel: Well I’ll start with my favorite photo shoot, it was this jungle themed shoot. It was at a person’s house and it was just the coolest thing, there was a tree house and part of the set was a bathtub in the backyard. It was the coolest location ever. That’s not something you get to work with often. That was by far the most fun. There was a swing and I was drinking out of a coconut… you’d think I was in Bali… I was actually in El Dorado Hills!
I love doing editorial photoshoots, like in studios. I think you can do high fashion, kind of weird stuff, that looks really cool for the camera and I come up with a lot of ideas on my own. Most of the time, I’ll come up with my own ideas and I need to work with photographers who share my vision because a lot of the time it can sound strange, but most of the time the photos come together perfectly.
I also love nice, clean beauty shots. An off the shoulder top, pretty makeup, a very clean background… pretty beauty shots that you would see a makeup brand do… like holding a lipstick and you get this really nice glamour shot. Those are definitely some of my favorites.
Bianca: Who would you say is your biggest role model?
AnnaNoel: One of my biggest role models is a woman named Christine Caine. She started an organization called A21 that is focused on abolishing modern day slavery. She saw a flyer in an airport and from that flyer decided that she was going to start this organization and this organization and they have saved thousands of lives and they give people opportunities to assimilate back into society, getting them jobs, homes, resources and opportunities for jobs. I just think that is something that Christine did something on her own initiative because she felt something needed to be done. That’s what inspired me to start my Anti-Bullying campaign #itstartswithme.
The meaning behind #itstartswithme is that you can’t wait for anyone else to start something, if you see something that you think needs to be changed, you need to do it, regardless of what everyone else is doing. It’s as simple as it starts with you. You may as well do it.
She has impacted so many lives and it really inspired me to do similarly.
Bianca: I know that you have done quite a bit of Anti-Bullying advocacy, are you also tying that into your interest in Anti-Slavery advocacy into your social good platform as well?
AnnaNoel: I started my Anti-Bullying campaign #itstartswithme as a result of my PTSD from bullying. I suffered from traumatic bullying for several years. This resulted in actual physical health issues. I was diagnosed with POTS (Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), which is because the mental injury turned into a physical injury based off of the way my body was comprehending everything.
POTS is a condition that affects blood flow. For me, one of the results were excruciating nerve pain to the point that I wasn’t even able to hold a toothbrush without experiencing pain. It took a long time, but I was eventually diagnosed by a team at Stanford with some symptoms of POTS. It wasn’t till years later of endless research that I figured out I had POTS and informed my doctor that I needed the test, and in fact, I did have it. 1 in 100 teenagers get diagnosed with POTS and a lot of teenagers have it and a lot of people may not know that it even exists.
I started this campaign in support of anti-bullying, but it’s evolved to include my interests in combating homelessness, ending human trafficking, and my family’s involvement in sponsoring children in different countries through World Vision. I changed the description to be “ending injustice” to encompass all of these topics that I’m so passionate about. Right now, I am currently volunteering for the homeless community, raising awareness for anti-slavery, all of my continued work in support of anti-bullying, as well as supporting the children that my family support through World Vision as well. That’s why I changed #ItStartsWithMe to be in support of ending all injustice, including ending bullying.
Bianca: What are your favorite beauty tips and tricks?
AnnaNoel: I absolutely love doing a creme liquid bronzer where you basically do it before you put on any powder and over your liquid foundation. I think it looks so natural and has this amazing finish. You put it on before you put on your contour, it just makes your face looks so good when you’re finished. I apply powder and bronzer over, but it adds dimension and depth in a way that I totally notice when I don’t do it.
The one that I use is by NYX…I know that Kim Kardashian has a creme contour stick, and lots of high end brands and drugstores carry creme contour sticks, but as far as what I’m referring to, not as many companies do carry the liquid bronzer. That is my number one trick that I thought of one day when I was darkening my foundation. I think just powder and bronzer is too obvious otherwise.
I also love adding my translucent powder over my concealer with a Beautyblender.
I would say those are the two things that I have thought of over the years that make my makeup stand out well and fixes some of the things that people don’t like about contouring. Also, blending makeup into your ears and down your neck and even in the back of your neck.
Also, when I do pageants I like to highlight my collar bones, but I don’t want it to sparkle, it has to have the right sheen.
Bianca: What are you most looking forward to for Miss California Teen USA in January?
AnnaNoel: It’s going to be my fourth year and I’m looking forward to making new friends, some of my best friends I’ve met through the competition. I am looking forward to meeting so many new people, too. I am also looking forward to my gown, I just got it a couple of weeks ago, it’s the most unique thing I have ever seen. It’s is a one of a kind gown and I am really excited. I also love the interview portion, too. It’s very much a conversation and you get to tell them about yourself, I’m just really good with connecting and speaking with people. If you can make a genuine and personable connection with the judges, then that’s great. I do really enjoy interviews for sure, just like this one!
Thank you, AnnaNoel, for your deep and personal insights, and your bravery to share all of this with us. Follow AnnaNoel on Instagram @annanoellll