PAGEANT Talks Presents International Ms. 2015 Melissa Hill
I’m the reigning International Ms., a new pageant that connects and celebrates elegant and enterprising women. I’m a licensed attorney, an international trade specialist, and a part-time professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. I also hold a bachelor’s degree from the American University and a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. I recently relocated from Washington, DC to New York City for personal and professional reasons and enjoy an active social life in Manhattan.
Can you tell us a little more about your career…? You’re a lawyer and a professor at FIT?
I have an exciting career that allows for frequent international travel and access to interesting people and organizations. Working in international trade means that I could be meeting with a New York City company in the morning, on the phone with an organization in Latin America in the afternoon, and on a conference call with a Chinese company in the evening. My career keeps me engaged and on my toes morning to night. Teaching an evening international trade focused course at FIT is also a fun extracurricular activity that allows me to further sharpen my expertise while mentoring and inspiring students to pursue a career in international trade.
Why did you decide to compete in a Ms. pageant?
Having spent my 20s buckled down in Washington, DC in law school and building my career, Ms. pageants provided me with an outlet to explore my feminine side while celebrating my professional achievements and commitment to serving my community.
As the inaugural international Ms., what do you think is the relevance of Ms. pageants?
Ms. pageants are wonderful because they celebrate different qualities in their contestants than those highlighted in Miss or Teen pageants. Ms. contestants usually have more work, life, and community service experience to showcase, which can lead to a more interesting, complex, and holistic pageant experience.
What’s been your favorite moment as international Ms.?
I really enjoyed the International Ms. Workshop held few months back in the Washington, DC area. It was great to meet many potential contestants and we had my official International Ms. photo shoot following the workshop.
Where do you see international Ms. and the future of Ms. pageants going? What direction can Ms. pageants take to be increasingly relevant?
Ms. pageants will likely become more relevant as stereotypes related to age and beauty are increasingly overcome. Many Ms. contestants are smart, accomplished lawyers, doctors, educators, mothers and pillars of their communities. Ms. pageants give these women an opportunity to flaunt their hard work on stage in a swimsuit, and celebrate both their bodies and accomplishments, without feeling the need to tone down their looks or achievements because they aren’t married with children over the age of 30.
Words of advice to the next woman crowned?
Be a bad bitch. Blaze your own trail, be strong and confident in everything you do, but always keep it classy (and glamorous – obvi girl).
Who are your heroes?
I love strong, accomplished, glamorous women who blaze their own trails unapologetically. Some women I admire are Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenberg, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Rihanna (of course).
What should every woman try at least once in her life?
Every woman should compete in a pageant once in her life! It’s such a vulnerable, character building experience – it will change you for the better!
Describe yourself in two words?
Powerfully feminine. I thrive on living a contradictory existence. I’m an over 30 ambitious attorney and professor who can hold my own in a swimsuit on stage and glide gracefully in a gown.
What’s your favorite place to eat?
My favorite restaurant is Hu Kitchen in New York City. It’s a delicious, healthy, organic, paleo restaurant. I like eating a healthy paleo diet (no dairy or carbs) as it keeps my body and mind in top condition.
What item in your closet do you wear the most?
My black suede pointy toe Alice and Olivia heels. They go with absolutely everything and as a vertically challenged 5’5” girl in a sea of skyscrapers and Manhattan models, I need my heels!
What is one item you can’t live without?
Tarte lipgloss in “Obvi”. Take everything, but leave my lipgloss! And, I mean, the name is so me. 😉