Pageant model turned expat, Brionnie Andrews has an extremely interesting story. From Louisiana to South Korea to Madrid, this risk-taker really knows how to go after what she wants. Our community manager, Danni, had the chance to speak with her on her past as a pageant queen, the importance of positive vibes and how she came to live the life she's always dreamed of.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your life in Spain?
My name is Brionnie Andrews and I was born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I love being a southerner and find that the Spanish are very similar to Louisianians. They are kind people who work hard, but know what really matters in life. Enjoying a good drink and fun time with friends & family is paramount. Having personally received such a warm welcome and seeing cheerful reminders of home helped me to easy into my new life in Spain. I am truly enjoying this experience and I am excited to see what next year will hold.
Not only are you an expat but you have a really interesting background as a pageant queen. Tell us your story.
My journey to the crown started a lot later than most beauty queens. Someone actually approached me about competing while I was shopping for my Senior prom dress. I'd always had an interest in pageantry, from watching the Miss USA and Miss America pageants, but never really thought I could compete. It wasn't just the financial aspect that deterred me but I never thought of myself as confident.
Alas, while attending my college orientation, I saw a flier for my University's Miss ULL Pageant. It was free entry and a former queen offered to help me train, so I felt I had nothing to lose. After purchasing my dress and much preparation, I competed and placed third overall. The pageant bug bit me and I knew I couldn't stop until I had a crown on my head.
Little did I know that it would take TWO YEARS before I would accomplish that goal. My first title introduced me to an entirely new group of people that quickly became my family. I will forever be grateful to the people that helped the shy girl become a confident, fierce, young woman. Every competition I entered, every community service event I attended, every person I met, helped prepare me for my ultimate goal of competing for Miss Louisiana USA. Although I did not win, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. Walking across that stage, seeing my years of hard work and dedication pay off was an indescribable feeling.
I am positive that my years in pageants helped groom me for my life abroad.
In fact it was a mere 7 months after competing for Miss Louisiana that I packed up my life and moved half way around the world to South Korea. Although I was anxious about living in a new culture, my previous 8 years of adapting taught me a very valuable lesson. I learned that being intimidated should never hold anyone back from going after what truly matters to them. I wanted to travel around the world, experience new things and improve myself. Because I decided to take a risk and say yes, instead of telling myself all the reasons I should say no, I am living the life I've always dreamed of. Though I may never again step on the stage, the memories and lessons I've gained are forever imprinted in my being. That knowledge has been a key to my current success and ever-future endeavor moving forward.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Empathetic, cheerful, and infinite.
What are your 3 fashion must-haves?
My 3 fashion must haves are a great pair of statement earrings, comfy casual boots, and a bold scarf.
What are 3 words that exemplify YOUR Spain experience?
No pasa nada. I find that having a “no pasa nada” attitude has helped me to let go of the little things and be less stressed.
Name your 3 most listened to songs on iTunes.
I don’t have three top songs, however my three favorite artists are Beyonce, Kanye West and Nicki Minaj.
Tell us 3 places on your travel bucket list.
My top three New Delhi India, Tanzania, Africa, and Santorini, Greece.
If one song had to play every time you entered a room or walked down the street, what would it be?
The one song I would love to hear would be Flawless by Beyonce. It’s a very motivating song and I feel so powerful when listening to it.
Who or what influences your personal style?
My personal style is influenced by so many things. I gather inspiration from television, YouTube videos, magazines and street fashion. Even though I find inspiration from all those things, I’d have to say my biggest fashion muses are my stylish friends.
Name one Spanish dish you can’t get on board with.
I can’t get on board with Spanish goulash. I’m usually pretty open-minded when it comes to food, but there is absolutely nothing appealing about this dish. I don’t like the smell, the appearance or the taste. I JUST CANT!
What is the most worn item in your closet at the moment?
The item of clothing that I wear almost everyday is my black leather biker jacket. I purchased it last year at Zara. I love the style of the jacket and how well it improves almost every outfit. I’ve been pretty obsessed with Zara since then.
What has surprised you most about European living?
I have been most surprised about how openly affectionate Europeans are. I see a lot of PDA on a daily basis. It’s just very different to see people without their personal bubbles up.
What’s your go-to mantra to fight the haters and have the best day possible?
Generally, I don’t surround myself with negative people so I don’t really give energy to those who with bad intentions.
Interview by Danni Roseman. Danni, Community Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native who currently resides in Madrid, Spain. She's a lover of language, words, and travel and has managed to combine all her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flights deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES.