Gabriella Deyi is a television journalist, mental health educator, and Miss Wisconsin USA!
I met the gorgeous Gabriella years ago when our salon had the pleasure of styling her for a photo shoot! I remember she had the sweetest personality and her goal was to make it to the Miss USA pageant! Well, SHE MADE IT! I will let her tell that story…
This blog feature is going to be a bit different. When I received Gabby’s response to my questions I was blown away at first. After a few seconds I realized that she IS a professional journalist so that explains her exquisite writing! Thus, we are going to let Gabby tell her story in her own perfectly written words!
“I currently live in Madison, Wisconsin and I was born and raised in Northern California – Oakland,Pinole, and San Francisco to be exact. After graduating from college, and receiving degrees in the health sciences, like most young people, I just mindlessly went to work in the field that I got my degree in. As a research chemist! My life, at that point, was “on track” to be what everyone expected it to be-predictable, smooth sailing, and safe. However, the lack of passion I felt for my career, listening to my heart, and childhood dreams led me to where I am today.
In late 2017, I quit my job, dropped out of my grad program, and took an unpaid internship while waiting tables at night- and the rest is history! I have wanted to be a journalist since I was 12 years old, but never pursued it because I didn’t think that the world would “take me seriously” if I decided to “just talk for a living”( all things that others have said to me and also being a first-generation American with immigrant parents only gives you about 7 solid and stable career options! LOL). I wanted to stop dreaming about being a journalist that created worldwide change through their storytelling. I just wanted to be that. I became that by starting over COMPLETELY. I went back to waitressing at night(which was how I paid for college)and was interning during the day to learn the business from the ground up at my local news station. That risk led me to my first full-time job in television, here in Wisconsin. I packed up and moved by myself here to a place I have never been, but now call home-in early 2019.
I thought my risk-taking was done after moving! But dreams don’t stop coming true unless you stop having them.
I have watched Miss USA since I was a little girl and always wanted to be THAT woman. Miss USA is inspirational, graceful, and passionate. She gets to travel the world (AND compete for Miss UNIVERSE!), speak to young people all over the country, and support causes that she loves throughout her year. I wanted to be HER in my dreams at night. I even tried to be her back in California , where I competed several times, but unfortunately never got close to the title of Miss California USA (which is the first step to becoming Miss USA). I was in my last year of eligibility when I arrived here in Madison. I knew I only had one chance to make this dream a reality. But I had no push. Until, my push came in the form of a woman, a coworker, who is now a best friend- Miss Missouri TEEN USA 2014. The first thing she said when we met at work after hearing my background was” So are you going to compete for Miss Wisconsin USA?”. The rest is history with A LOT of backstory in between! I won Miss Wisconsin USA on my last attempt and I will now be competing for the title of Miss USA 2020 before the year is over!
Winning my state title, brought so much opportunity my way and has changed my life exponentially. One of the biggest opportunities that it gave me was the chance to tell my story of growing up in a family plagued by mental illness. My mother struggles with bipolar disorder and my brother battles with clinical depression. That experience is something I hid for so long – due to the fear of stigma and the flood of questions that usually follow- the only thing that encouraged me to speak about my experience out loud and confidently has been pageantry. Pageantry encouraging me to tell my story is why I am a mental health advocate and educator for Mental Health of America today!
I am really lucky that I get to live out my dreams in many ways every day. My life is proof that your dreams can come true when you are bold enough to keep dreaming and chase those dreams relentlessly once you wake up!”
Wow, just wow. See I told you that was a powerful story! I absolutely love every word and each time I read it I am inspired all over again!
I was also able to ask Gabby a series of questions regarding inspiration and how she stays so inspired, let’s see what she said!
~What inspires you?
“My biggest inspiration in my life has been my faith. I grew up going to church but I didn’t begin to have a relationship with God until I was about twenty-two years old. My devotional every morning and my constant communication with God gives me the inspiration to keep dreaming, keep pushing forward, to keep using my pain for a purpose, to keep learning from my mistakes, to keep celebrating my success, to keep sharing my story, to keep feeling worthy, to keep loving people, to keep working out…and the list goes on! My faith reminds me that as long as I am here, I still have good things coming! That’s inspiring!”
What advice would you give women right now to help them feel their best?
“My advice would be to not seek outside validation. In order to feel your best, and be the best, you have to know you are the best. And sometimes the world can trick you into believing otherwise in many different ways and from that, we tend to fall into the trap and the vicious cycle of living our lives only for the opinions of others.
You have to take the opinions others have of you like noise and cancel it out internally. Speaking to yourself positively, meditation, prayer, exercise, and surrounding yourself with the people in your life that feed your soul are your noise cancellation headphones and your peace.”
4. What are your favorite products or brands that keep you feeling beautiful and inspired?
“I love using products and brands made by women who have followed their dreams. When I use products and support brands with stories behind them, it encourages me to keep following my dreams.
Some brands I use daily that immediately stick out in my mind are Shea Moisture, Honest by Jessica Alba, and IMAN cosmetics. They can also all be found nationwide and are affordable!”
~What gives you the push to keep striving toward your goals?
“My dad, my aunt, my godmother, my pageant family, and my circle of friends! I spoke earlier about surrounding yourself with people that feed your soul! They all feed my soul and they encourage me to keep going forward. Chasing your dreams is not easy by any means. It comes with a lot of sacrifice, dedication, and mistakes. Whenever those things become overwhelming. I know I can turn to them to get back into the groove and feel motivated again.”
~How would you say the world of health and beauty compliment each other?
“They go hand in hand! I would actually go so far as to say that you can’t have beauty without having health first. I continue to learn that through pageantry( especially preparing for Miss USA) and through my work with MHA. Your mind, body, and soul have to be connected and in sync for your beauty to shine through. Your mental health, your physical health, your diet, your skincare, your makeup, and the clothes you wear come in separate packages but they all work together. Your awareness of how they all compliment each other is what makes you beautiful!”
~What are 3 tips you would give to anyone who is feeling down or low about their self esteem and wellbeing ?
1. Find out what makes your heart beat faster. Figuring out what you love to do in life, searching for what makes YOU happy, and what makes you excited to wake up each morning can take your focus off of your insecurities and puts a spotlight on your strengths and the things that make you unique and rare!
2. Explore the possibility of turning what you love to do into a career. This can be done and I do not think young men and women are told this enough. Once I realized that what I loved to do could be my career, I felt empowered. Getting paid to do what you love is so rewarding! I do not want to be obnoxious and say that the journey towards making this possible is easy because it’s not, but it is worth it. I can also testify that the journey towards making this happen actually breeds major confidence.
3. Do not be afraid to look into your past and present for trauma. Trauma can hold you back from having a fantastic future. And it can be a huge hidden obstacle when trying to build your self-esteem and create a life you love. As a mental health advocate and someone with a family history of mental illness – I am a huge proponent of therapy. It was my therapist who actually brought to my attention that I needed to make a career change, that I was dating from a place of pain from my childhood, and that words people said to me in my adolescence were affecting the way I saw myself in the mirror as an adult. If therapy is not an option for you, talking to a mentor or someone who can view your life objectively is a necessary tool, that I believe, everyone needs to be genuinely successful.
We have to look deeper to be get the strength to grow! I will never forget the words from Gabriella’s feature, and I know you wont either!
Gabby THANK YOU so much for your amazing story and for being a part of Health is Beauty!
Coming up next; Holly Drennen, owner of Holly D. Photography (and my BFF since kindergarten!)
Don’t miss Holly’s feature launching Friday May 8 at 10am!