Title: Mrs United Nations 2016
Pageant: United Nations Pageant
Age: Old enough to know better
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
Hobbies: Teaching women how to win pageants, interview etc; mentoring, volunteering and I have a love of fashion.
Platform: “Become an Everyday Hero, Mentor a Child”
Contact information: russowendi@ , contact me on FB or Instagram using my name
Years competed: 9
Countries visited: Jamaica so far this year
Likes: Chocolate chip cookies and dough, people who are kind and generous to others, honesty, shoes, seeing young women develop confidence and reach their dreams, eating Italian food and visiting Italy where my husband is from
Dislikes: politics at work or in life, dishonesty, freezing temperatures, seeing girls who do not believe in themselves, giving up.
Status: Married 13 years
World Class Beauty Queens would like to welcome amazing Queen and a role model Mrs. United Nations 2016 Wendi Russo also a cover queen for our second issue.
World Class Beauty Queens: Hello Wendi, thank you for taking the time to Interview with us it’s an honor to feature such an accomplish Beauty Queen and humanitarian. Please tell us about yourself.
Wendi: I’m from Eden prairie, Minnesota and the mother of a 12 year old, our own Little Miss United Nations 2016. I grew up on the East coast and am a former NY and LA actress turned Television Host with EVINE Home Shopping Channel ( ) for last 12 years. I present a variety of products on air specializing in jewelry, fashion and beauty.
I met my husband on my trip to Italy 12 years ago and on my way to get married, my agent called me to offer me the audition to Host EVINE and we have made Minnesota our home ever since! I did my first pageant at the age of 40 after I had my daughter as a personal challenge to myself and to get more involved in my new state, but I lost my first pageant. The following year I won my first title, Mrs Minnesota America — years later I chose to become a pageant coach to help other women to achieve pageant success at any age! I have trained girls and women of all ages to win state and national titles and each time it feels amazing!
World Class Beauty Queens: I must admit I’m dazzled by your crown, you can’t miss it. It looks amazing and it’s different from other crowns. Tell us what you love about it?
Wendi: The crown is uniquely beautiful and I get compliments everywhere I go! People love the vibrant colors and its prominent size. Personally I love the meaning behind the crown, that each color represents one of the 7 Continents – The United Nations pageant represents all Nations and the Unity that the pageant provides–one purpose, to serve others and to make the world a better place.
World Class Beauty Queens: To our readers that are unfamiliar with United Nations Pageant tell us what is the system about.
Wendi: The United Nations system is about Style and service! This pageant itself features fashion at every event and the Runway fashion segment allows you to feature your individual style and charity is at the forefront of interview and many of the days of activities at the pageant. Leon Williams, the director has a heart for helping others and makes sure the contestants are involved with local needy children while in Jamaica.
World Class Beauty Queens: What made you decide to compete for Mrs. United Nations title?
Wendi: I admired the charity work of Miss United Nations 2015, Sherrie Gearheart and her ability to market the pageant. She did a beautiful job of making her year of service count and touched the lives of many. She had a huge following and always looked and acted like the queen!
World Class Beauty Queens: Before we focus on the competition I would like to focus on your charity work. Please tell us about your platform Become An Everyday Hero, Mentor a Child.
Wendi: I have been a mentor for over 14 years with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kinship of Greater Minneapolis, ACES Mentoring program and now through Dress for Success. Growing up, I did not have a mentor in my life and it took me a long time to gain confidence or to believe in myself. I know what it means to have someone spend time with you, care about you and offer guidance because in my adult years, I finally found mentors who offered that support. Imagine if I had had that help earlier? I have supported a young girl’s artistic interest as a mentor and years later she was offered a full scholarship for gifted and talented students–her mother attributed her success to me which reinforced the importance of my mentoring. The gift of our time can mean a child feels valued and important–maybe for the first time.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about Dress for Success program.
Wendi: I understand what it’s like to have a hard time finding a job–years ago I was struggling. Employment means independence for women, taking care of their children, less crime, and a better life for all. I love what Dress for Success stands for in supporting women with a difficult past and have donated clothing in the US and in Jamaica, raised the most money for their recent 5k race by getting the hosts of EVINE involved and am a Career Advocate where I work one-on-one with women, giving them career advice and have spoken to several Dress for Success training groups about the keys to a successful interview, landing and keeping the job.
World Class Beauty Queens: How long you’ve been mentoring at Big brother and Big Sister program?
Wendi: I started as a mentor almost 15 years ago in Los Angeles and the young girl I mentored and I are still in touch on FB! I used to take her to paint every week and her mother says I am the reason she received a full scholarship to an art school for gifted students which makes me very proud!
World Class Beauty Queens: You are also working on legislation that will reduce child trafficking in United States.
Wendi: Yes, I have been working to get senators and the House to support a new Act called the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act” by recruiting queens across the country to help in the effort to get it passed in each state and I hope to get it passed in Minnesota. It would require electronic manufacturers to be locked to prevent obscenities and sites where children can be purchased for sex to be blocked and all pornography, anyone who wanted to unlock this would need to pay a fee which would go to fund local organizations that support victims of trafficking.
World Class Beauty Queens: Please tell us about 5 Days of Kindness.
Wendi: In 2015 I started a 25 Days of Kindness campaign where I did one charity activity a day from December 1-25 to honor the true meaning of Christmas and the holidays. I delivered food for Meals on Wheels, Called Bingo for the Veterans Senior Home and local nursing homes, made and donated blankets to homeless, collected and donated toys for Children at the hospital, gave blood, etc. I asked my company, EVINE to be a part of this giving-back program with a shortened version called “5 Days of Kindness” and my company made and donated hundreds of cards for those serving in the military during the Holidays, Collected 120 toys for Toys for Tots, made blankets donated to “Project Linus” for local hospitals, and adopted seniors and needy children to buy gifts for the holidays through “Angel Project”. It was a huge success and I made a greater impact by involving my company and sharing it on my live TV program and on social media, hopefully inspiring others to make a difference where they are!
World Class Beauty Queens: Your 12 year old daughter Chloe, Little Miss United Nations 2016 is big part of charity world. Would you like to mention her achievements?
Wendi: Chloe has received the President’s Volunteer Service Gold award for 3 years running and has just received a runner up award for her fundraising for Children’s Cancer Research through her annual Lemonade Stand. She has raised over $8,000 selling Lemonade and cupcakes, in addition to her over 100 hours of service every year.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your involvement with Make-a-Wish foundation.
Wendi: I have been a Wish Granter for 4 years and have granted many wishes for children with life threatening illnesses. It is extremely rewarding to be a part of planning and creating the perfect wish experience for a child and to see their excitement when they receive it! I am currently helping a 4 year old little boy to take a trip to Disney World and stay at the “Give Children the World” Disney sponsored resort geared towards children with terminal illnesses or handicaps. I will be planning his farewell party and making sure it’s his dream of a lifetime! Every year my daughter and I also Walk for Wishes to raise money for each wish which costs on an average $2,500 to grant.
World Class Beauty Queens: What plans do you have as Mrs United Nations in 2017.
Wendi: I have another “Inner Beauty Pageant” planned here and have been recruiting more directors nationally but I’m interested in having Directors around the world offer this free pageant for young girls to gain confidence. All crowns and banners are donated and one girl wins “Miss Inner Beauty”. Many girls cannot afford to enter pageants and this pageant gives them an opportunity to experience public speaking, interview and modeling for the first time! (if anyone is interested in being a Director, please email me at russowendi@ ). I am a Celebrity Dealer at the Pay It Forward fundraiser for cancer patients, I have been asked to speak again for the Dress for Success Program, am participating in the upcoming Bike for Wishes for Make-a-Wish and have raised enough money for new church clothes and sports equipment and a bike for the Jamaican Boys Orphanage! I would love to be able to volunteer overseas at a survivors round house with LOVE 123, a sex trafficking survivors organization in Philippines but it depends on sponsors from the United Nations pageant.
World Class Beauty Queens: What would be most heart warming mentoring story you have?
Wendi: When I was mentoring one 7 year old girl through Kinship of Greater Minneapolis, I arrived for my weekly get together with her and her mother said she had been waiting for 3 hours for me. I was not late, she had gotten up, gotten ready and was waiting for so long because she was SOOOO excited to see me and to experience something new that day! I realized just taking her to the play ground or getting swim lessons donated by a local swim school or taking her for a day of beauty at the mall was the one thing she looked forward to all week and that just spending time with a child can make a huge difference in her confidence level and feel cared for.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your awards.
Wendi: At the pageant my family won the International cook-off competition judged by the local boys- I made the American treat of chocolate chip cookies, my husband and daughter made fried chicken breasts and pasta. The boys from the Jamaican orphanage voted and chose USA! I also won the Costume competition and best Interview overall between every age division, which is quite an honor.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about your certificates.
Wendi: I have a certificate in Broadcast Journalism from University of California and I also have my Diamond Grading, Colored Stones Grading and Accredited Jewelry Professional Certificates from the Gemological Institute of America which has helped me with my job when I sell jewelry.
World Class Beauty Queens: What was your talent during the competition?
Wendi: I was told talent was optional so I had not prepared anything, but as I watched everyone perform their talent, I saw many girls give up before they even completed their talent or even just one or two lines into their monologue or song. So I decided to perform what I call my talent–Mentoring. I spoke to all of the girls there about wishing they could see their true potential and beauty and talent like I do, and that they need to believe in themselves –not to give up. That I wish I could give them some of my confidence. I was called into the top of talent to re-perform my talent but I was glad not to make it to finals because it was most organic the first time! Having to repeat it over again did not feel as authentic!
World Class Beauty Queens: Fun part of the competition is national costume, tell us how did you represent USA and why?
Wendi: I had the idea of representing Lady Liberty but a glitzier version in silver iridescent silver sequins and mirrors on my crown. Having lived in NYC for 6 years, The Statue of Liberty represents the first thing the immigrants saw when they entered the NYC port and represents the freedom and diversity that America is really about. My costume made by Katya Andeev even featured the New York Skyline replete with lights in the buildings and a large USA sign on my gown. It was an honor to win best National costume.
World Class Beauty Queens: Big part of the competition is evening gown. Tell us what did you choose and who designed it.
Wendi: My gown was made by a talented gown designer, Frankie Couture in the USA and I chose turquoise and AB stones on an off shoulder white gown because I love the elegant non-fussy design which hugs the curves. I thought the white would allow the colorful crown to stand out and turquoise is one of my favorite stones. My gorgeous turquoise earrings were custom made by Arabesque to match the gown and they truly stand out!
World Class Beauty Queens: What was your thinking process for selecting the gown?
Wendi: I chose white because it stands out on a dark stage, turquoise stones to bring out my blue eyes and the off shoulder style is classy and queenly all at once. The blue earrings stand out in contrast and match back beautifully to the blue stones on my gown.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us about all the activities you’ve done during the competition.
Wendi: During the competition we had a cooking competition at a local boys orphanage (My team won!), We Painted the exterior of the orphanage, performed the top talents for judging by the boys, gave the boys gifts (we bought them a bike) and visited the beautiful Taylors falls in Jamaica.
World Class Beauty Queens: What charity work have you done in Jamaica during the competition.
Wendi: I helped paint the exterior of the Boys Orphanage–it was over 100 degrees and we had not prepared very well, not bringing sun block or hats! Each country also went to the grocery store and make a meal for the 19 boys based on their country’s food, so I made huge Giradelli chocolate chip cookies, my Italian husband made penne with tomato sauce and fried chicken breast and we won! I noticed that the 19 boys only had one adult sized bike with a flat tire to ride and when I asked a boy what he wished for, he said a smaller bike for the smaller boys to be able to ride. So we gave it to them and they were so excited!
World Class Beauty Queens: What was your onstage strategy to win the judges over?
Wendi: To show my stage skills, to be my authentic self and to be confident in all that I did, even when my Statue of Liberty crown started falling off on stage!
World Class Beauty Queens: During the evening gown competition, how did it feel to take your first step?
Wendi: During evening gown it is always about managing the stage, size and space well so I was trying to take it all in while having fun and having “my moment” representing the USA.
World Class Beauty Queens: Behind the scenes competition is a whirlwind. What was the most nerve wracking moment during the competition?
Wendi: Final Question–I had not anticipated some of the questions and saw a few women have a challenging moment– you never know what you will be asked so you need to be quick on your feet! Luckily I was prepared!
World Class Beauty Queens: Which country was your biggest competition and why?
Wendi: My biggest competition is always myself — I know what I have to offer, so I focus on my strengths instead of focusing on other people.
World Class Beauty Queens: We want to hear in your own words how did it feel to hear your name as the winner.
Wendi: I was thrilled! I had worked hard for the title from the moment I was chosen to be Mrs USA and it’s a pageant, so you never know!
World Class Beauty Queens: This is not your first crown but this one is very special because of what it symbolizes. Tell us what does it mean to you to win this title?
Wendi: It means a lot to me because it is my first International title and one that I worked very hard for in terms of preparation, marketing, volunteer hours, creating the perfect wardrobe, etc, and it represents the pinnacle of my pageant career.
World Class Beauty Queens: Competition forges life long friendships. Which sister queen will be your friend for life?
Wendi: I most connected to Dwayne Hinds, Mr United Nations Globe 2016- he is a leader, kind, cares about others and is a real down-to-earth sweetheart.
World Class Beauty Queens: What does the crown and sash symbolizes to you?
Wendi: The multi-colored crown represents the teamwork all nations/countries can have when we work together, like we did at the orphanage and how we are more similar than we are different, even if we cannot all speak the same language. The green and white sash symbolizes the title bringing vitality and energy to the queen–helping her to continue her mission to commit acts of kindness wherever she goes and encourage others to do the same.
World Class Beauty Queens: Why should every girl compete in pageants?
Wendi: Competing in pageants helps you determine your goals, what you value, who you are and how to achieve personal excellence. The growth you can experience from pageants is remarkable–stretching yourself to learn new skills, gaining self-confidence and compassion with charity work, learning to dedicate yourself to your success and recognizing the impact you can have on others with your charity work. Each woman learns and experiences different things but the skills she learns can only help her in her future endeavors.
World Class Beauty Queens: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Wendi: I want to be remembered as a queen who made an impact and brought more attention to Mentoring through Dress for Success or any mentoring organizations, bring awareness and reducing Child Sex Trafficking and raising more money for Make-A-Wish so sick children can create an amazing memory. I’m also hoping to leave the boys at the Jamaican Boys Orphanage/home feeling cared for and loved. I also hope more women will recognize the benefits of pageantry and that it is more than just glamour and a beautiful gown. That the power of the crown is within you to make a difference.
World Class Beauty Queens: What is the happiest memory you took with you after the competition?
Wendi: My happiest moment was seeing the excitement of the boys jumping on their brand new bike and taking it for a fast spin around the driveway circle! Before they had only had an oversized bike with a flat tire for all 19 of them to ride and they had asked for a smaller bike! I have since raised enough money for another bike, new basketballs, a basketball hoop net and new church clothes for the boys (a request from them). It was also looking over at my beautiful daughter who had just been crowned Little Miss United Nations and she was so thrilled for me to have been crowned Mrs United Nations! My husband was so proud of his “girls”! It was a wonderful memory for both of us!
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to say thank you to Mrs United Nations 2016 Wendi Russo for this amazing interview. You are a true inspiration, its an honor to showcase your kind heart and dedication to helping others.
I was honored to be chosen as your cover Queen and I appreciate that you have chosen to highlight the United Nations pageant with your new Magazine!
Editor: Derek Tokarzewski