Many women who have been crowned Miss USA have gone on to do greater things later on in life. Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful and talented winners of the iconic beauty pageant and explore what they are doing now.
Laura Martinez-Herring – Miss USA 1985
History was made back in 1985 when Laura Martinez-Herring became the first Hispanic woman to be crowned Miss USA. However, the lady now known as Laura Harring has since developed a respectful career in the world of acting.
Laura Martinez-Herring – Now
With numerous roles under her belt in movies such as John Q, The Punisher, and The King, Laura Martinez-Herring has maintained a quiet reputation as a talented actress. However, she has developed something of a cult following after her role as Rita/Camilla Rhodes in David Lynch’s neo-noir classic Mulholland Drive. For a couple of years after being crowned Miss USA, Martinez-Herring was married to Count Carl-Eduard von Bismarck-Schonhausen. She has since retained the title of Countess von Bismarck-Schonhausen after their divorce.
Lu Parker – Miss USA 1994
Frances “Lu” Parker may have missed out on Miss Universe after her Miss USA triumph, but this didn’t stop her from developing a respectable career in TV. Her main work since her beauty queen years has been as an anchor and reporter for KTLA Channel 5. She has also made appearances on shows such as Larry King Live and E! Parker. That’s not all though. She has also developed a charitable side to her career, founding a non-profit completely dedicated to helping children and animals.
Lu Parker – Now
Looking back on her Miss USA win, Lu Parker remembered a moment that boosted her confidence forever: “When I was backstage just before I gave up the crown to the next winner, one of the co-owners of Pageantry magazine asked me how I felt. I said, ‘I’m happy and sad. It’s been just perfect but feels weird to give it up too.’ And he said, ‘Honey, you never give it up. You will always be Miss USA.’ I have never forgotten that.”
Shawnae Jebbia – Miss USA 1998
After making a name for herself after winning the Miss Massachusetts pageant, Shawnae Jebbia went on to win Miss USA just a year later. However, she received some bad news shortly after, being diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, which ultimately gave her partial hearing loss. Despite this, Jebbia didn’t let this setback beat her down. She started to travel around the world and worked as a spokesperson for a company that aims to help people with hearing problems.
Shawnae Jebbia – Now
Nowadays, Jebbia works as a medical aesthetician and it is believed that she is studying for a Master’s in nursing. When it comes to her evergreen looks, Shawnae recently revealed her secret. “I would exfoliate with a light microdermabrasion at home with crystals in my cleansers, then apply very thick products to hydrate, help heal the skin, and provide a protective occlusive barrier,” she said. “I’ve also used sunscreen on my face every day since the age of 21, and that’s been a lifesaver for looking youthful.”
Susie Castillo – Miss USA 2003
In November 2002, it was Susie Castillo who was determined to win Miss USA after previously winning Miss Massachusetts. She ended up fulfilling her dream and making history at the same time, becoming only the fourth winner of Miss Teen USA to also win the main pageant. Also, she is the first woman of Dominican-Puerto Rican background to win the title. After winning Miss USA, Castillo also competed in Miss Universe. However, it was Amelia Vega who beat her to the title.
Susie Castillo – Now
Since winning Miss USA back in 2003, Susie Castillo has stayed relevant, hosting numerous shows on NBC, CBS, and MTV. She recently revealed the secret behind how she keeps fit and maintains her looks. “When I was living in New York after the pageant, I met a nutritionist who changed my life,” she said. “I’ve adopted a plant-based diet and have never felt better. I don’t consume processed foods including coffee, soda, and junk food, and eat whole and organic foods.”
Brook Lee – Miss USA & Miss Universe 1997
Arguably the most successful beauty queen on this list, Brook Lee won a number of pageants during her breakout year in 1997. On her very first attempt, the model won Miss Hawaii USA. She soon moved onto Miss USA, which she also won. However, she went one step further when she competed in the highly prestigious Miss Universe. At 26 years and 128 days of age, Lee won the title, becoming the oldest person to achieve such a feat.
Brook Lee – Now
Since her epic year in 1997, Brook Lee has, ironically, had one of the most low-profile lives out of anyone on this list. She has made a number of cameos in some TV shows and movies. She has also hosted a handful of shows, both in the U.S. and in Asia. In recent times, Lee has been the hostess of TV show Pacific Fusion, which mainly revolves around Asian-Americans. Other shows she has hosted include the Travel Channel’s Great Cruises.
Kenya Moore – Miss USA 1993
If there is one beauty queen who has truly made history as Miss USA, it has to be Kenya Moore. When the young lady won the beauty pageant back in 1993, Moore became only the second African-American woman ever to be given the title. Shortly after, Moore competed in Miss Universe and finished in the top six. Don’t be fooled though; Miss USA was only the start for this talented woman and it would earn her many great career opportunities.
Kenya Moore – Now
After her pageant win, Kenya Moore went on to appear in numerous films. These included the likes of I Know Who Killed Me, as well as Waiting to Exhale. She also had roles in TV shows such as Smart Guy, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The Jamie Foxx Show, to name a few. Soon enough, Moore decided to be the head of her own media company, which she launched in 2008. She is currently involved in Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Shanna Moakler – Miss USA 1995
At just 19 years of age, Shanna Moakler became one of the youngest people to ever win Miss USA. It was the first time that someone her age had won the title in over a decade. In more recent times, Moakler has gotten into the world of acting and has also hosted numerous shows. Not only is she the executive director of Miss Nevada USA, but she also runs her own cosmetic line – Smoak Cosmetics. Most notably, she was married to Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker.
Shanna Moakler – Now
In recent times, Moakler was caught in the middle of an ugly divorce with Travis Barker. Nevertheless, the model is enjoying a fun and healthy lifestyle. “My secret weapon is the stairmill. I do 20 minutes a day at the highest incline,” she said. She followed up by saying that she “also [does] a lot of dance-based training and yoga, and my diet is still very clean. I have a good cheat meal every Sunday but otherwise, try to eat about six small meals a day, and I love protein shakes.”
Crystle Stewart – Miss USA 2008
2008 was a huge year for Crystle Stewart as far as her work in beauty pageants was concerned. The model won Miss Texas 2008 before moving on to the main event, Miss USA. She officially became the ninth Texan ever to win the title. During her time holding the title, Stewart ran campaigns for a number of charities and made numerous public appearances that caught the media’s attention. She also attended the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner during her reign.
Crystle Stewart – Now
In terms of her looks, not too much has changed for Crystle Stewart since winning Miss USA back in 2008. Nowadays, the former beauty queen does a lot of work on TV, primarily starring on OWN’s For Better or For Worse. She plays the role of a real estate agent who is constantly caught in the middle of many of her friends’ turbulent relationships. She also graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in consumer science and merchandising.
Terry Lynn Huntingdon – Miss USA 1959
The oldest woman on this list, Terry Lynn Huntingdon made history when she became the first woman from the state of California ever to win Miss USA. She had previously won Miss California and followed it up with the main pageant. In the same year, Huntingdon also competed in the Miss Universe pageant, finishing in a respectable second place. However, it’s not just Terry’s achievements as a beauty queen that she can look back on with fond memories.
Terry Lynn Huntingdon – Now
After her success in beauty pageants, Terry Lynn Huntingdon developed a reputation as a well-respected TV/film actress. Some of her career highlights include starring as Hecuba in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules and Kitty Wynne in the show Perry Mason. Huntingdon eventually worked for the U.S. government as a freelance photographer. Her time in politics became so fruitful that she even got a job in the ’70s as a scheduler for the presidential campaign of Senator Gary Hart.
Wendy Dascomb – Miss USA 1969
It was all the way back in 1969 when Wendy Dascomb was crowned Miss USA. However, the pageant victory hasn’t stopped her from having a busy life. Dascomb has had numerous jobs such as coaching a women’s basketball team at the University of North Carolina, as well as teaching. She is happily married and has had five children along the way. When it comes to keeping fit and staying healthy, the secret lies in the farm she lives on.
Wendy Dascomb – Now
Wendy’s Dascomb’s life as a horseback riding teacher was the key to her keeping fit at an older age. “I ride horses, so I live a very active lifestyle that requires a great deal of labor, including…operating the tractor and excavator, feeding hay and grain, and pretending I am still 20 years old,” she said. “I also eat very healthy fresh food; prepare all my meals at home; and avoid dairy, soy, corn, and wheat. I weigh 10 pounds less than I did when crowned Miss USA!”
Bobbi Johnson – Miss USA 1964
It’s almost as if Bobbi Johnson’s life after winning Miss USA 1964 has been just as eventful as her monumental achievement all those years ago. For a large part of her adulthood, Johnson worked as a systems engineer. It was during this time that she got married and had two kids. However, at the same time, she graduated from college with a degree in accounting. Soon enough, she passed the CPA exam and became a part-time accountant. However, what is life like for her nowadays?
Bobbi Johnson – Now
For Bobbi Johnson, staying fit is not just about physical training, but also about mental exercises, such as card games. “I currently work out with friends and a trainer twice a week. We use weight machines and free weights, and also do stretching and balance exercises,” she said. “I use a treadmill and elliptical for cardio the rest of the time. But the best exercise for me is playing duplicate bridge, a mentally stimulating card game that may help slow memory decline.”
Katherine Shindle – Miss USA 1998
After winning Miss Illinois in 1997, Katherine Shindle felt on top of the world. However, it would be the following year that the model actually was on top of the world when she was crowned Miss USA. Growing up in a small town in New Jersey, Katherine always dreamed of getting on stage one day. Just a year after her beauty pageant triumph, Shindle made that dream come true, moving to New York in 1999 to pursue a career in acting. But did it work out for Miss USA 1998?
Katherine Shindle – Now
Not only did Katherine Shindle become an actress, she also became a licensed real estate agent! However, it was her time spent on stage that really brought a smile to her face. Her first break came on a Broadway production of Jekyll & Hyde. Eventually, she landed the role of Sally Bowles on a Sam Mendes-directed production of Cabaret. She has also starred in shows such as Wonderland and Legally Blonde. Her most recent performance came in the regional production The Sting.
Erin Brady – Miss USA 2013
After winning Miss Connecticut 2013, Erin Brady was ready to take the world by storm and made history when she became the first delegate from her home state to be crowned Miss USA. It was titleholder Nana Meriwether from the previous year who awarded Brady the coveted title. In the same year, Brady decided to take her reputation to the next level and compete in Miss Universe. Despite not winning, she finished in a respectable 6th place.
Erin Brady – Now
Since her beauty pageant heroics, Erin Brady has kept herself extremely busy. In 2014, the star gave an address at CCSU’s undergraduate commencement and has also done a lot of commendable work in philanthropy. The same year, she hit the jackpot in the love department, tying the knot with Tony Capasso. Amazingly, the couple was planning on marrying beforehand, on the day that she competed in Miss Universe. However, rules state that titleholders are not allowed to marry for the entire year.
Erika Harold – Miss USA 2003
With her official platform being “Preventing Youth Violence and Bullying: Protect Yourself, Respect Yourself,” Erika Harold captured the hearts of the panel and won Miss America 2003 on September 21, 2002. She used her triumph as an opportunity to be a spokesperson for the national advocacy group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Some of the other topics that she tackled during her reign included sexual abstinence and bullying. However, what exactly is Erika Harold doing now with her life?
Erika Harold – Now
Erika Harold has come a long way since her time spent in beauty pageants. The Miss USA 2003 has since ventured into the world of politics. Currently, she is the Republican nominee for the Illinois Attorney General and was previously a candidate in the 13th Congressional District seat for Illinois. In that particular campaign vote, she lost out to Rodney L. Davis but did accumulate 41% of the votes. However, Harold won the Republican nomination in 2018, getting 58% this time around.
Olivia Culpo – Miss USA & Miss Universe 2012
Possibly one of the most successful beauty queens on this list, Olivia Culpo took the world by storm when she won not one, not two, but the three major beauty pageants in one year! Firstly, she triumphed at Miss Rhode Island 2012, before eventually being crowned as Miss USA the same year. However, it was her time competing at the Miss Universe event that helped her steal the headlines. Culpo became the first woman since Brook Lee to win both pageants.
Olivia Culpo – Now
It seems like Olivia Culpo has been everywhere since she made history six years ago. Not only did she make a cameo on the popular cooking show Hell’s Kitchen, but Culpo has also appeared in movies such as The Other Woman, American Satan, and Reprisal. That’s not all though. Culpo’s personal life has been just as eventful as her professional, having dated the likes of Nick Jonas and Tim Tebow. Her most recent relationship was with Miami Dolphins football player Danny Amendola.
Julie Hayek – Miss USA 1983
For diehard Miss USA fans, Julie Hayek was an absolute legend. During her campaigns in both Miss USA and Miss Universe, she scored the highest scores for her swimsuit. That was just the start of her successful life. Hayek soon moved into education, studying biology at UCLA. Eventually, she ventured into the world of acting, starring in shows such as Twin Peaks, Dallas, and The Tonight Show. At one point, Hayek was a model and stock trader at the same time!
Julie Hayek – Now
It doesn’t seem like the current real estate agent has changed too much since the ’80s. She is happy to share her secrets and is writing a health/fitness book. “When it comes to food, keep everything in balance,” she said. “I don’t deny myself, I just eat smaller portions. And fill your refrigerator with fresh fruits that are already cleaned and arranged in glass bowls. When you’re in a grazing mood and you open the fridge, they will be there ready for your consumption.”
Gretchen Polhemus – Miss USA 1989
There is no doubt that Gretchen Polhemus is one of those beauty queens who has a familiar face. The reason for this is that for over a decade, she was an on-camera reporter for ESPN. Ultimately, it was her victory at Miss USA 1989 that propelled her into stardom and gave her so many great career opportunities. Most recently, she has hosted the ABC show Good Things Utah. However, she has maintained a career in modeling while also working as a corporate speaker.
Gretchen Polhemus – Now
Gretchen Polhemus recently shared her thoughts on the current state of beauty pageants. She believes that the climate of Miss USA has changed for the better. “Now the contestants look more natural and like girls, not so made up,” she said. “I can look at them now and see their individual beauty because they’re not trying to look like the mold, as in the past. The dresses are also a lot more up-to-date with what’s actually in style.”
Barbara Peterson – Miss USA 1976
Once Barbara Peterson was crowned Miss USA in 1976, she never looked back. Very soon after her beauty pageant triumph, the model completed her degree in speech, political science, and American studies – an impressive arsel of knowledge for a pagaent queen! This triple major ultimately paved the way for a career in marketing. However, Peterson eventually started working on a Minnesota news channel and remained involved for a staggering 25 years. She also got married and had three children.
Barbara Peterson – Now
Barbara Peterson has had a heavy hand in philanthropic efforts, contributing to many initiatives revolving around the arts and education in general. In recent times, she has written her own book called Becoming a Beauty Queen: A Complete Guide. She gave a brief taste of what to expect from the book. “Exercise, diet, the ability of gaining knowledge…our libraries are free,” she said. “We all have access and can take charge of a little bit of our own destiny.”
Brandi Sherwood – Miss USA 1997
There is no denying that Brandi Sherwood has had an eventful life since her time spent in beauty pageants. She became the first woman ever to hold both Miss USA and Miss Idaho Teen USA titles. Ultimately, Brandi was the runner-up to Brook Lee, who originally won Miss USA that year. However, after Lee was crowned Miss Universe, Sherwood assumed the title of Miss USA. In recent times, there is one business venture that has overshadowed her beauty pageant successes.
Brandi Sherwood – Now
Soon after winning Miss USA in 1997, Sherwood got a job working on The Price is Right. However, she claimed that after she took maternity leave, the show wouldn’t allow her to come back. Eventually, she won a lawsuit against the showrunners, but after a rehearing, the winnings were taken back. Despite this, Sherwood has enjoyed some success in the world of acting; most notably, in the 2003 movie Shark Zone. The model/actress is currently married to fellow actor Dean Cochran.