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FROM STRUGGLE TO SUCCESS

In Her Own Words, Adelfina Milici, Heart of Hollywood Magazine Cover Model Contest Winner, Describes Her Early Life and Her Achievements within the Industry


By Adelfina Milici,


My parents were immigrants from Italy who came to America in January 1966. They rented the first floor of a six-story building complex in Paterson, New Jersey. I was born on July 18,1966 at St.Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson. At the time my parents didn’t speak English well and didn’t have health insurance. 


2024 Heart Of Hollywood Magazine Cover Photoshoot with Cover Model Adelfina Milici.


A funny incident happened when my father told the nurse he wanted to take me home. The nurse got an interpreter who spoke Italian and said that the hospital would not release me until the hospital bill was paid in full. My father was devastated, because he didn’t have enough money, so he called his other family members and asked them to chip in. My godfather, whose sense of humor I loved and whom I dearly miss, later joked and said to me, “Where would you be today if your father hadn’t got the money?”


A few years later the landlord sold the six-story complex to my dad and we still remained on the first floor. We lived on E-18th Street, a block away from School 18 in Paterson, and back then my mom would walk my sister and me to school. When I was in second grade we moved to Hawthorne, New Jersey. There, I attended Lincoln School up to eighth grade, and then graduated from Hawthorne High School in 1984. We were not only the 50th graduating class, but our school was known to have Deborah Harry, the famous singer for the group Blondie, among its alumni! I graduated in the top 20 percent of my class and received a math scholarship during my senior year.



I came from a dysfunctional family environment and was bullied in school for being shy throughout my entire childhood. I won’t discuss any additional details, since that’s for a book I plan on writing someday. Who knows, it might become a movie!


So my family environment was crazy and school was dreadful. My only escape was my church, where I felt safe. I attended St. Anthony’s Church in Hawthorne. This became the same church I got married in 32 years ago, in September 1991. My favorite part of attending church was the music aspect. Hearing the choir members, and singing with the parishioners, gave me


a feeling of happiness. Little did I know back then that this is known to greatly increase endorphin production for people who suffer from depression.

At home, I begged my parents to purchase a record player for me and to buy record albums from my favorite group, which was, of course, Blondie. I also wanted music by Foreigner, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Donna Summer, and other great artists. 

I was particularly inspired by Barbra Streisand’s fabulous voice and tried to sing all her songs. The greatest challenge was to sing ”No More Tears", sung by a duet made up of Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand. There was a section in which Barbra held a note for a long time. It took me a while to unravel the mystery and teach myself to hold that incredibly long note! My mom was impressed and I said, “This is what it takes to be a great singer.”





My favorite subject in school was Music. The teachers encouraged my parents to have me sing in public, but I was too shy and didn’t feel confident.


In 1985, I graduated from the Berdan Institute in Totowa, New Jersey, and was ready for a career in Dental Assisting. I did bookkeeping, handling insurance claims, scheduling appointments, and assisting the dentist with all procedures. But after three years I saw I didn’t like the industry and then started working at Paulist Press, a Catholic book publishing company in Mahwah, New Jersey. I used to do accounting work, I took book orders over the phone, and I typed up documents. Yes, I used an old-fashioned typewriter and survived!


During that three-year period, I was involved with a guy I dated for a year. He convinced me to be intimate with him even though I believed that premarital sex was wrong. Afterwards, I felt guilty and ashamed for what I did. He was also very controlling, so I couldn’t go out with my friends and had to watch my weight. If I didn’t wear nail polish, he would question me. We were close to getting married until one day I finally broke down mentally. The childhood trauma which was never healed and the horrible relationship made severe depression come out in full force. I was hospitalized for a long time. Somehow I got through it. A great team of doctors, nurses, and support groups helped me heal and see life in a different way.


Through my sister’s old workplace, she met a man named Jim and introduced the two of us. He became my husband, and we have been married for 32 years. 


We have two adult children, Alison, who is 31, and Raymond, who is 23. I was mostly a stay-at-home mom when the kids were little, because I cherish the younger years and knew someday I could regret not spending time with them before they grew up. Once the kids got older, I started doing part-time work, but was never fully satisfied. I felt as if there was something missing in my life.


I thank my husband for teaching me all I know about politics and law, and especially about sitcoms, musicals, and classic movies.


In 2019 I started singing on the internet, just to see people’s reactions. They were positive and I started to slowly get out of my comfort zone. I joined a Facebook singing group called Let’s Sing. I sang mostly oldies that I had been singing all along, and now I have about 90 karaoke videos on my YouTube channel. 


I got to meet Clark Mantilla, a singer whose YouTube channel I subscribed to, in June 2023 at a club in New York City. We sang the original introduction song from The Phantom of the Opera together. I was a little nervous because I had never sang in public before, but somehow I managed.


I got interested in modeling because I used to sell Swarovski Touchstone Crystal jewelry. I did vendor events, fundraisers, and video tutorials, but my favorite part was modeling the jewelry. I was also inspired by the model Kathy Jacobs who was only 5’ 3’’ and 58 years old. She competed with younger models on a runway for Miami Swim Week and became the oldest rookie to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated Magazine! I felt connected to her because we both started modeling in our fifties and we were similar in height.


Unfortunately, when I started out in the modeling industry in 2021, I fell for a lot of scams and lost a lot of money, since I didn’t know what the industry was all about. Feeling hopeless and defeated, I went to La Crème Modeling School in April 2022 and graduated in June 2023. While I was at school, I signed up with the Backstage platform and started getting a lot of gigs. So far I have been in three music videos. One for Meg Smith (“Joni”), one for Helena Hallberg (“Surprisingly Disco”), and one for SC Static (“Booyaka”). I appeared on my first Times Square billboard, which showed me doing runway modeling; I appeared in a New York street style outfit. I asked photographer Alexander Gurman to be present to capture the billboard, some video of me in Times Square, and my singing. My “NY State of Mind” music video was so exciting.


I did many runway shows and photoshoots, and met many designers, photographers, film directors, and other models. It was wonderful to meet so many people in the industry. I have built a great portfolio after participating in various photoshoots involving body paint, boudoir, swimwear, elegant, and athletic wear.


I was in the Strike a Pose fashion show, directed by Kamilla Lanae back in July 2023. It is set to air on Amazon Prime soon. In September 2023 I was featured in an event directed by Alan Action. The Sexy and Saxy at the Copa in New York City was a fundraiser for Toys for Tots. It will air on YouTube and other platforms.


I have been featured in several movies, including student films. The student film Violet, from director Jeff Lichtenstein, will be released at student festivals. The movie Figments of Freedom, from director Mark Webber, is coming soon. Tried by Fire from director Karen-Broadway Wilson is another one that will be released. I was also a stand-in for The Real Housewives of Miami. 


I will always be an advocate for mental health, and will always fight cyberbullying and bullying in schools. My Instagram consists mostly of posts encouraging people to eat healthy and exercise, since I lost 68 pounds in Sept 2020, my modeling pics, and videos of me singing and doing funny voiceovers using TikTok reels.


My dream is to record an original song and release my first album, write a book about my childhood, and find a reputable modeling agency to represent me.


I would like to thank Heart Of Hollywood Magazine for giving me this exciting opportunity as a result of winning the Winter 2024 Cover Model Contest. I am looking forward to working with this magazine’s creative team. You are never too old to follow your dreams!


The author is the winner Of the Winter 2024 Heart Of Hollywood Cover Model Contest. She was selected by readers through an online voting process. Find information about past and future contests at https://www.heartofhollywoodmagazine.com/contest


CONTACT ADELFINA



 

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