Mallory Hagan sounds like the prototypical Park Slope resident: she hangs out in Prospect Park, dines at Thai restaurants on Fifth Avenue, and relies on the F train to get around. But the 23-year-old Alabama native also happens to be the newly crowned Miss New York — and a contender for the lofty title of Miss America.
After beating 25 other competitors to win the tiara and sash for the Empire State, Hagan checked in with Brooklyn Paper reporter Eli Rosenberg.
Eli Rosenberg: You may be Miss New York, but you’re really Miss Brooklyn to us. How did you wind up in the county of Kings (and pageant queens)?
Mallory Hagan: I moved here in October 2008, so it’s almost been four years. I’ve lived all over the borough — I’ve lived in Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg, Bensonhurst, and Sunset Park. Now I live about three or four blocks away from Prospect Park in Park Slope. It’s my little escape area. I love the diversity in Brooklyn, that you can be in a Hasidic neighborhood one day, a Russian one the next day, and an Latino one after that.
ER: Do your neighbors know that Miss New York lives next door?
MH: I don’t think so, I don’t think they do. I didn’t exactly shout it from the rooftops. People always think I’m kidding when I tell that, and I’m like, “Yeah.”
ER: How well do you represent Brooklyn — and are you qualified to do it on the national stage as Miss America?
MH: I’ve lived in more neighborhoods here than most people. I think Miss America is a bit misconstrued at times. It’s not about being the perfect girl; the main criteria is that she can walk into a room and talk to anybody. It’s about being comfortable with who you are and owning it. Brooklyn sort of prepares you for that. I am a true Brooklynite, no one can tell me differently!
ER: What are some Miss New York-approved hangouts in the Slope?
MH: If I’m enjoying Brooklyn it’s usually in Prospect Park. My favorite restaurant in all of New York is Song. I also like the Roots Cafe — the people who own it are from Alabama, where I’m from originally, and they sell sweet tea and they do live music.
ER: Are you the first Miss New York to bike to work?
MH: No I don’t bike. And I don’t do yoga. I take the F train from the 15th Street, Prospect Park. My parents have given me very little rules, but one of them that I will not ride a bicycle in New York!
Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.