To say Andreia Gibau is worldly would be an understatement! Arriving in Brockton, MA at seven years old without speaking a world of English, Andreia has won over the hearts of millions across the globe with her warm smile, big heart, passion for life, and endless philanthropic work.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Andreia to talk about everything under the sun from her experiences as a child, moving from Cape Verde to Brockton to New York City, her life in the pageant world as the reigning Miss New York, and some of the amazing things she plans to continue to do to help people and spread positive vibes in the future.
VN: Andreia, you were born and raised in Praia, Cape Verde and then immigrated to the United States at 7 years old. Not knowing anything about America, were you able to transition and adapt well to a foreign country? How would you say this event in your life has shaped you today?
AG: Moving to a new country I honestly had no idea even existed at that time was really strange. I had no idea what to expect and once I got here the transition was really difficult. My parents had to work all day in factories to make a living and so I would just be home watching TV and in awe of the life people were living and how they looked.
I felt such a disconnect between the life I was living to those on the television screens. I didn’t speak English and the first school I went to didn’t have bilingual classes so I had no friends, no one wanted to talk to me.
So, going to school became miserable. I remember vividly during recess after lunch, the school gave out free popsicles so I would sit in the courtyard on the floor alone and just watch all the other kids run around and play. When I switched schools after a year I was amongst other immigrant students in bilingual classes.
So I started making friends but I still felt like I didn’t belong. From there I had this deep desire to just do whatever it took to fit in, to feel like I was just like all the other kids. That meant becoming proficient in English and being the first student to take regular ESL with all the other American students. It also meant keeping my immigrant identity hidden.
For the next 10 years of my life it would be a struggle of not being my true self and celebrating what makes me different. I’m at a much different point in my life now where I celebrate my story and what makes me different. Because I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum in life, I’m able to see things from a unique perspective that’s helped me connect with a variety of people.
VN: Many people recall you from the recent Miss USA 2020 pageant, you were a crowd favorite! You’ve competed in many pageants including being the titleholder of Miss Teen United States 2015, Miss Earth USA, and Miss New York USA and placing top 10 at Miss USA. How did you get into pageants and what kept you going to pursue more titles? Is there anything you wish you could change looking back?
AG: My best friend and theater director in high school kept suggesting I try to do a pageant because they thought I would do very well. I never grew up watching pageants so when I looked into it, I automatically felt like this was so out of my league. That no way could I possibly do something like that, those women were stunning.
These were the most beautiful people I had ever seen and I did not look like them nor did I have the confidence they had. After 2 years of convincing myself I finally decided to just go for it.
It was Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 2014 and I had no coach, no idea what I was doing but I still had the ambition and drive I’ve always had since I was little, and that alone took me right into the top 15.
From there I got immersed in the pageant world and saw how it can positively change someone’s life and give you so many incredible opportunities to acquire skills, confidence, and a platform to make a difference. From every win to every loss, pageants have changed my life in the most positive way, there’s nothing I would change.
VN: I love that you dedicate your birthday every year to volunteer and you always post about current events/ways to give back through your social media. It’s amazing seeing someone as inspiring as you are to stay in tuned with what the world needs help with. How do you find other ways to give back on more of a daily basis?
AG: I’m one of those people that make myself so available to help friends and even strangers on a daily basis. I’m at a place where my knowledge, connections, and just wisdom is able to have an impact on people’s daily lives and I value that so much.
To me, being able to help a friend with something and uplifting them in any way is really important to me. Everyone is going through something you have no idea about, so it’s important that we lead with kindness. That’s the biggest impact we can have on each other.
VN: You’ve already accomplished so much in your life, including piloting an aircraft for over 80 miles! Where do you see yourself in the near future, professionally and personally?
AG: I’ve really hit the ground running after Miss USA chasing other goals and dreams I have. I can’t speak specifically about any of the projects I have going on right now, but philanthropy will always be a big part of who I am.
I plan to be a United Nations ambassador some day and also start my own organization with a focus on assisting immigrants and inner city kids. Fashion, business, and entertainment also continue to be my passion and that’s exactly where I plan to keep my career.
VN: What’s the best advice you’ve been given that you’d love for others to live by?
AG: I’ve received so much great advice but one that always sticks with me came from my mentor.
She said: “The worst thing you can do for yourself is become complacent. You can’t wait for things to happen to you. If you want something bad enough, you have to make it happen. And if it seems too difficult, it probably means you don’t want it enough.”
That, for me, has been so impactful because to come from where I came from and to now have the life I live was because I was never complacent. When there was no clear opportunity, I found a way to create it for myself. Everything and anything you want in life can be attained, it’s just about how bad you want it.
All images used with permission of Andreia Gibau
Victoria Nasuti created H.E.R Page – BostonMan to help tell the inspiring stories of women around Boston successfully having careers and passions at the highest levels! A published model and real estate professional herself, Victoria knows firsthand the challenges of performing your best in both a career and passion. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for the H.E.R Page spotlight, please send Victoria a message here.