Rhode Islander Olivia Culpo sits down with Journal Star Columnist Jenna Pelletier as she speaks on the controversial Taj Mahal photoshoot. The reigning Miss Universe is under police investigation when her group was accused of violating India's Heritage Act when they shoot a commercial for footwear at the Taj Mahal on Sunday, Oct. 5.
Back in her New York apartment, Culpo reflects on her 10-day Indian tour and told Pelletier that she was exhausted for not having enough sleep in the last two days. So when asked about the controversial Taj Mahal photoshoot, Culpo did not hesitate to air her side of the story.
"The Miss Universe Organization has sponsors that they have obligations to take pictures as we travel or basically create a Web diary of our travels," Culpo says.
"I was given the direction to pose with the shoes. And honestly, 5-inch heels on a 10-inch bench in 90-degree weather - you know, I didn't want to do it. Honestly, I did at one point say out loud, 'Isn't this a little inappropriate?' but I have to do what I'm told. This is my job," she added.
In her early interview, Culpo expressed an understanding that she is no longer Olivia Culpo, but Miss U.S.A. who will be representing the country and the Miss Universe Organization where ever she goes. That includes all the glamour and the chance to meet all celebrities including her current boyfriend, singer/actor Nick Jonas, and she is expected to do what the organization wants when they want it.
"There's a lot of push and pull and being here and being there and doing this for this person and doing this that way," she says. "Because you're a brand representative, you're representing an entire organization. There's a lot of things that don't require your input. It's not about what Olivia wants."
The Cranston raised beauty queen feels terrible about being investigated by the Indian police and was upset that she offended the country's citizen. She also expresses the deep sense of spirituality that she felt when she was there and was planning to go back to India to do charity work.
"I really enjoyed everything about the visit, and there's so much that I wanted to go back and do. ... It's just kind of a shame. I hope this can be resolved in a way that would at least let me go back to the country, because who knows now [if she will be able to return]."
And when asked if her experience taught her something about the Indian culture, Cuplo says, "No."
"If anything, this situation has taught me that if I don't feel comfortable doing something, no matter what the situation is, I have to put my foot down, because that was really the lesson learned here."
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