Unlike many beauty queens, Sarah Stiebritz didn’t grow up dreaming about a crown. “To be honest, it was kind of just a phase,” she recalls of her newfound interest in pageants. “I had recently watched the Miss USA pageant and I wanted to try.” So she Googled competitions in the area, stumbled across America’s It Girl — a new reality series that airs on WE TV through November — and was accepted as a competitor.
The show pairs about 400 “It Girls” with up-and-coming designers; each team works together to create an outfit, which the model shows off on the runway, and then receives judges’ feedback. The pool is narrowed down until someone emerges with the “America’s It Girl” title. She receives a modeling contract and the chance to develop her own fashion line. Stiebritz is competing in the New York cycle (there is also an L.A. competition) and presents herself as “Miss Hudson Valley.” “I grew up here and I love it,” she says. “I was in the city filming and told them I was from Poughquag, and they said, ‘Where’s that?’ So I thought it was time to put us on the map.”
But the show is about more than just representing her hometown: She also wants to give a voice to young single moms. Stiebritz is a 20-year-old mother raising a two-year-old son, Julian. “Young moms get so much negative media,” she says. “There is so much [in the media] telling us what we can’t do. I want to be the person telling girls what they can do.”
Putting her money where her mouth is, Stiebritz is currently a full-time student at Dutchess Community College pursuing a degree in elementary education. Along with taping the show, her time is spent working at a childcare center and maintaining a YouTube channel, JulianAndMommy, which currently has more than 3,000 subscribers.
Ultimately, everything she does, competition included, is for her son. “I want to provide not only for Julian’s needs, but also for his wants,” she says. “I want to tell everyone [in my situation] to still pursue your dreams — not just for yourself, but for the love you have for your child.”