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Miss USA '98 Shawnae Jebbia shares one of her last reigning moments with Pageantry's National Marketing Director, Carl Dunn. In this candid interview, Shawnae is open, honest, and straightforward with her fans.

"We do much more work than people realize. And that's what's good, because we walk out with more experience than we expected. It's not about the crown and the jewelry, but it's really about giving for the year."

CD: Why don't you tell us about the highlights of your past year?

SJ: That's very difficult as a titleholder, because each year there are so many different highlights for each one of us; but let's see, I've worked with 20 to 25 different charities. I've put in many television appearances -- on Candid Camera and the American Country Music Awards and on the wonderful Chips reunion. I continued my ESPN Fitness show and then went to audition with the William Morris Agency, which we're represented by when we win. We're usually traveling so much, but if we can be there (at an audition), it's great. And I've been able to hit four auditions this year, one of which led to a job as a spokesperson with Direct TV for a new show called Platinum Events. So, this year has been very exciting!

CD: How did your job with Direct TV come about?

SJ: I auditioned. There were probably 500 girls who auditioned altogether. I just read the teleprompter, and I left. I felt no feelings, no good feelings at all from it. Then I got a second call back, about a month later, and went back and read more and felt okay about that. I walked out of there not knowing if I had the job, because really, they don't tell you anything. Then I got a third call back from an executive of Direct TV. So it was a matter of three call backs in a two or three month span. After negotiations for a couple of weeks, they made me an offer, and I accepted. So, I'll be seen on twelve networks this next year, ranging from VH1 and MTV to the ESPN Golf Channel and Showtime. These channels are all part of the Direct TV subscription. So, I'll be leaving here heading straight into the working world! It's exactly what titleholders want to be doing these days -- leaving to go into their profession.

CD: Well, it sounds as if you've been experiencing an exciting whirlwind year. What do you think you'll miss most after moving on with your life?

SJ: Just being around the pageant feeling. I went to Miss Virginia and to Miss Teen USA, and I competed in Miss Universe, so that's what I'll miss most... being in the pageant world and seeing the delegates, the excitement, the stage, and the production numbers.

CD: Do people recognize you now wherever you go?

SJ: People still recognize me from the fitness show, but with titleholders it's different, because there are so many people out here (in Los Angeles) who are in the television industry. However, if I go to a function as a titleholder, people are expecting me, so, yes, they'll notice me. I've had people recognize me on planes and in the different states that I go to. It seems the more work we do in the industry and in the TV world, the more we're recognized.

CD: Is the fame everything you thought it would be?

SJ: Well, when you get off the plane there's either going to be a hundred people there or no one. It all depends on the city. It's been a learning experience for me all the way, but I've enjoyed every second of it.

CD: What was your favorite part of being Miss USA?

SJ: Being able to reach out and be tangible to as many people as I could. I've been able to reach more people than I ever thought I could in every way. And then I also have these celebrity appearances, and there's excitement in the air. So, the variety, that's what's my favorite part, the variety.

CD: What's a typical day like for Miss USA?

SJ: It's about waiting for your itinerary to come through your fax machine and figure out where you'll be going for the next day or the next week. Nothing is typical, nothing is set in stone. You're supposed to be available 365 days out of the year with five days off, that are for family, and a little bit of down time. But your down time is spent going back and forth to the office, answering fan mail, going to the dry cleaners, getting ready to pack for that next big trip. So, basically, there is no set schedule, no typical day.

CD: With only limited time off, how do you make time for family and friends?

SJ: Well, you don't make time; you visit friends and family in your down time. I do quick bouts of 3 to 5 days, home for a couple of days, 3 to 5 days back on the road, then back home for a couple of days. I've been able to see my boyfriend (of 2 years) not consistently, but when I can. You make the time when you have it.

CD: Was being the titleholder everything that you thought it would be?

SJ: As far as the work with the title holder's job, we really don't know until the end what to expect, so I really had open expectations. And it was much more than I expected, much more fulfilling in every way -- career, humanitarian, celebrity wise. So, yes at both the State and National levels. It's a wonderful and amazing job.

CD: If you could be Miss USA for another year, would you do it?

SJ: No, I wouldn't.

CD: You wouldn't? Why not?

SJ: Because that's what keeps Miss USA what it is. You have one year as Miss USA, and you wear the title on air. And then you come down with this shock of "Oh my God it's over!" There wouldn't be that intense emotion if I had another year. The second year wouldn't have the energy, zest, and vigor of the first year as Miss USA. I loved it being only one year, because it keeps it what it is.

CD: What has been the most challenging part of your year?

SJ: Not knowing what I'm going to do the next day. I'm a Virgo, and I love to be organized. I love to be told the charity that I'm speaking with and where I'm going and what I'm doing in advance. And so, for me, it's that my schedule is out of my hands! I'm always calling and asking them, "Where am I going? What am I doing?" while waiting for that itinerary to come through my fax machine. I want to know where I'm going so I can actually prepare. I want to be a voice, and I want to be prepared for that voice... so not knowing where I'm going tomorrow, that's probably the hardest part for me.

CD: Are your parents looking forward to tomorrow (the Miss USA '99 Pageant)?

SJ: Yes, and probably with a box of tissues! They're looking forward to it, because they know I'm secure with the new job waiting for me. And I'm enjoying the pageant, the crew, the delegates and the titleholders that I've worked with. I'm going to miss them very much, but they're happy for me and just as excited as I am.

CD: With your hectic schedule, how do you manage to stay fit?

SJ: My goal was to book a charity roadrace, like a 5-K breast-cancer run, a golf tournament for heart stroke, an AIDS walk, bowling, a triathalon, or anything athletic I could do, into my schedule at least every two weeks. That way I could be out there to run or walk with the survivors, help charities, and keep in shape at the same time.

CD: For the incoming Miss USA, what would be the best advice you could give her regarding what to expect?

SJ: Don't expect to be spoiled rotten like a beauty queen. We do much more work than people realize. And that's what's good, because we walk out with more experience than we expected. It's not about the crown and the jewelry, but it's really about giving for the year. If you love giving yourself completely for an entire year, you will love this job, because that's what you get to do. And it's something that you may not ever be able to do in your life again, because you don't have to worry about your apartment, where to go, or food. They pay for everything. All you have to do is go and give.

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