Shelley Hennig, Model-Actor

Photo: Jake Chessum

What do you do?
I’m a model-slash-actor. And I was Miss Teen USA in 2004.

Were you a pageant girl?
No, not at all. I was a dancer, and still am. I figured that entering the Miss Teen Louisiana pageant could get me to New York one day, and what do you know? Here I am. In New York.

Did you have pageant-girl style?
I went for a more simple look. It was kind of an experiment to see if I could do it at my comfort level and still win, so I designed my dress myself. It was white jersey and long, with just a little bow underneath the chest and crystal beading on the back. I wore my hair slicked back in a ponytail, and way less makeup than the other girls—who did look beautiful, I should say, but I felt beautiful being more natural.

Was it fun being Miss Teen USA?
Well, it got me where I am today! And Donald Trump was my boss for a year. Mr. Trump is a really good guy, but it was a long year. I was commuting and traveling around the world, but also I was a senior in high school in Louisiana.

Did you have a platform?
My brother passed away five years ago in a drunk-driving accident. As Miss Teen USA your platform already has to do with teenage drinking, drugs, and violence, and I mainly spoke against drinking and driving. And I still work with Buzz Free Proms. It’s this thing where you pledge not to drink at prom and all this great stuff. It’s fun.

Tell me about your style?
It’s so random! My stylist, Billy, taught me things, like that West 8th Street is the unofficial shoe district of New York. That’s where I got these boots. She also taught me that matching is not your No. 1 priority.

So what is?
Comfort. And of course you want to look good.

What are you doing today?
My dad’s visiting, and he loves boats. So we’re going to South Street Seaport because it’s so beautiful. And my dad is seriously like my best friend. He’s like a stand-up comedian at heart, and he doesn’t even know it.

Shelley Hennig, Model-Actor