Photograph by Luigi Cuiffetelli
Renee Bull, 22, is a relative newbie to the pageant world, having competed in her first in 2012. In July, she became the first woman from Delaware to place in the Top 15, effectively ending the “Delaware Curse.” She finished in the Top 11. Now she is focusing less on her crown and more on her education as a sophomore at Wilmington University, where she studies communications.
DT: Was the infamous Delaware Curse on your mind entering the pageant?
RB: Of course it’s on your mind. I’ve seen the girls they have sent from Delaware, and they are gorgeous, and I thought to myself, What do we have to do? We have sent such strong contestants. I had to stay super positive. If I let the negativity take over, it ruins your entire experience. I realized I could really make a difference and be the one to get people to notice that we have something to offer.
DT: How did you get involved in beauty pageants?
RB: It’s always funny. I was doing work in Wilmington in 2011 with a mentorship program promoting peace. A woman read an article about the program in the newspaper and inboxed me on Facebook and said I would make a great Miss Delaware someday. I did a little research and learned I could earn scholarship money doing pageants. I have six siblings and did not want to be in debt. So in 2012, I competed in my first pageant.
DT: How do you prepare for a pageant?
RB: Now that I know what to do, I understand that it’s a mental game. You have to be extremely secure in yourself. People have a lot of opinions, but you have to be very confident in who you are. The way I feel best is when I represent my personal best, not when I’m comparing myself to other girls. I work out at CrossFit Riverfront, which has been one of my sponsors since 2012. I also trained with Kelsey Miller, Miss Delaware 2014. I worked with nutritionist Alina Pfeifer, who had me on a strict diet and a calorie count for the first time in my life. I was going crazy. The first month my body was adjusting to all the changes, and I had mini breakdowns because I had never trained that intensely.
DT: During the pageant, you and Miss Alaska made history by becoming the first two delegates to tie for Miss Congeniality. What can you tell us about that?
RB: The contestants are the ones who vote for the girl who has been the most helpful, who is always in high spirits, encouraging and an all-around nice person. The funny thing is I voted for Miss Alaska because she was always making the mood better. The competition is so intense, but I thought she was amazing. We spent two weeks in Baton Rouge, La., just to compete for two days.
DT: Tell us about the nonprofit you started in 2014, Girls2Girls.
RB: Girls2Girls assists young women between the ages of 8 and 15 to overcome poor self-image and low self-esteem. We teach them an uncompromising commitment to leadership, service and caring about others. We had our first event in January, and it was a huge success.
DT: What have you been doing since the pageant?
RB: I’ve been doing a lot of runs to the cleaners and returning a lot of clothes. I was also invited to speak on the celebrity panel at Delaware Prevention Coalition’s annual Teen Summit. I would go to this event growing up, so to be featured on the panel was an awesome experience.
DT: Can you share with us some of your beauty secrets?
RB: I use a beautyblender. It is a must. People think I am crazy, but I carry a gallon around with me all the time.
DT: What’s next for you?
RB: I am going to be focusing on my nonprofit and obtaining that degree. I need to finish school so I can help show people that even if you don’t go straight through, it’s possible if you keep going and stay focused.