FREEHOLD - The newly crowned Miss USA and Miss California is originally from New Jersey.

Alyssa Campanella, 21 is a Jersey girl, having grown up in Manalapan. After being crowned Miss New Jersey Tenn USA and runner-up in the Teen USA pageant after that, Campanella decided to quit high school her senior year and pursue an acting career in New York City.

Freehold Township High School Principal Liz Higley says she discouraged Campanella's decision at the time. Higley says Campanella told her that she knew what she wanted and that she was making the right decision.

Campanella is known for her red hair, but she is actually a natural blonde. Higley says she dyed it for a school play and decided that she preferred it red. Campanella now credits the unusual color for helping her stand out.