WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Wilmington-born actress Briana Venskus is a little more than a week away from being crowned as queen of the 2019 North Carolina Azalea Festival.
Even though Briana’s family moved to Greensboro shortly after she was born, she spent many summers going to Wrightsville Beach, and knows what the festival means to the Wilmington community.
“I grew up with the Azalea Festival,” she said from her home in Los Angeles. "I went to the parades, the street fairs. So, I have this sort of image in my mind. It’s the event of the year! It’s the Azalea Festival! So, to be asked to be the queen of it, nonetheless, was a bit of a shock and I would say, absolutely daunting to say the least. It’s such an event, and it means so much to so many people. I was definitely, pleasantly daunted.”
Briana had to deal with some pushback when the Azalea Festival Committee announced her selection as Queen Azalea 2019. Comments on the festival’s Facebook page questioned the decision, mentioning a specific post Briana put on her own Instagram account last November, when the openly bi-sexual actress was denied a television role because she ‘wasn’t seen as authentically LGBTQ enough’. She used the middle finger and an expletive in her comments. Briana responded on social media to the reaction and expanded on it during the podcast interview.
“There are hundreds of thousands and millions of people in the world, and you’re not going to make every single one of them happy, it’s just not going to happen no matter who you are,” Briana said. “I accepted that early on in my career, and the more I’ve sort of clung to that ideology, the better. I definitely think their opinions are valid. I don’t want to tell any of them they are wrong, because they are not. It’s their opinion, their point of view and they are one hundred percent entitled to have that. But I also think there’s room to highlight the fact that, while they may have found a particular post with a particular finger, they also did overlook plenty of other posts where I had peace signs, where I was celebrating my family, where I was celebrating my friends, where I was standing up for people who didn't have a voice. So to pass over so much good to focus and hone in on one negative was I think the most upsetting part of it, was to think of all the good that can be done was being overshadowed by one particular thing. “
Look for the entire interview with Briana Venskus on an upcoming episode of the “1on1 with Jon Evans” podcast.