Meet Richard Deere: Mr. Georgia in the 2024 Mister USA competition

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Richard Deere
Richard Deere. Photo Credit: Christian Eisenbarth.

Richard Deere is Mr. Georgia in the 2024 Mister USA competition. Deere chatted with #Powerjournalist Markos Papadatos about his latest endeavors.

Deere is a model and actor who was born and raised in Brazil and moved to the United States back in 2016.

2024 Mister USA competition

Mister USA is an American beauty pageant, which is held annually, and the winner goes on to represent the United States in the Mister Universe competition. It is a celebration of culture, diversity, beauty, intelligence and empowerment. They believe in the power of young leaders to make a difference in the world. It is not solely about outer beauty; it recognizes the inner beauty and intelligence of their contestants. It will be held on August 11, 2024 in Hollywood.

The winner of Mister USA will subsequently represent USA at “Mister Universe” competition in mid-September.

On being a part of the 2024 Mister USA pageant, he said, “I believe that everything I have been through in life, has led me to this moment. When I was a little kid I knew I wanted so much more than the basic life my parents and everyone in our small town had. I had such an ambitious young mind, and even though I didn’t know where I would be today, I knew I was born to something much greater.”

“Little did I know I would be part of one of the biggest modeling competitions in the world. Being part of Mister USA means that the universe has been watching out for me and guiding me in an inexplicably way; bringing me to cross paths with all the right (and the wrong) people, giving me the right opportunities so I could make my way opening all the doors in front of me for my own fulfillment and happiness,” he elaborated.

Reflecting on his own life story, lessons learned from this journey

On representing the state of Georgia, he shared, “Throughout life I have felt so blessed and lucky, obviously not taking it away from all the hand work I had put in; but to have the opportunities I have had, I really do consider myself lucky. Or at least luckier than most. I grew up in a small town in Brazil, my parents worked at a fair building the rides.”

“We used to go city to city within a few months,” he admitted. “I met all sorts of people, and I enjoyed traveling away. As a teenager during my first job, I was saving money to realize a dream that was going to Paris. I accomplished that by 18, didn’t really enjoy Paris, but on that same trip I found my way to Italy; where I fell in love with the country.” 

“During college, I had plans of moving to Italy and finishing my Civil Engineering degree there,” he said. “During that time, I met this guy in São Paulo. He was a handsome and tall all-American jock type. He was visiting Brazil alone, so he spent the weekend with me and my friends after our encounter at the bar. He was such an awesome guy, treated me like a prince really, all the boxes checked. He came back a few times to visit me, we went to Europe together, all whilst I was in college. Then right before I moved to Italy, he told me to move to America instead. That if I lived with him in Charlotte, NC everything would be easier. He sold me on all the better qualities I would get here than in Italy. So I dropped everything and moved to Charlotte with him.”

“The first few months were a dream come true,” he said. “We had two cute puppies, I was going to community college to learn proper English, American history, and public speaking. We got married, applied for my green card, and so forth. A few months in I came back from school to find him with another man in bed. Things got worse after I told him that is not what I signed up for. He then started traveling to Brazil, Colombia, and other countries. Sleeping with countless people; using the green card against me. Saying that if I wanted to stay in America and finish school, I would have to accept that. I was embarrassed to tell my family and friends the situation I was in, so I accepted the life I was living. Till he gave me an STD.” 

“At that point I was done, I wanted an out,” he said. “I had a straight guy friend in the gym that I was talking to about my situation over text. I woke up in the middle of the night late 2016, to my husband screaming at me, saying I should not be telling people about our personal lives. I was so scared, he broke my phone. I didn’t know that the iPhone he had gotten me as a gift was connected to his iPad, so he could read all of my messages. He then took my passport and was about to leave the house, I got in front of him and told him he could leave but to give me my passport so I could go home. He choked me against the door and said he would kill me before I left him. That had been the first of many times he beat me.”

“Things unfolded in a way that I wasn’t expecting,” he said. “I was getting physically and mentally abused, and yet I didn’t leave. Anyone looking from the outside wouldn’t understand why I stayed. But I was mentally trapped. I didn’t speak the language well, I was scared, I was embarrassed. How could a strong looking guy be beaten by another dude and do nothing ? He would go through phases of getting super angry and then extremely apologetic, crying his eyes out, saying he didn’t know what was going on with him, for me not to leave him, that he needed help.”

“How could I leave the man I loved, when he clearly had a problem,” he said. “So we started seeing a therapist together. She said he didn’t have bipolar disorder, but it all was happening because he had been doing steroids for over 10 years non stop. He stopped it and everything got back to how it was before. All flowers and chocolates for months. We moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to start a new life for us both. I was glad then I hadn’t left him, but little did I know things would only get worse.” 

He continued, “During our first few months in Atlanta he got back at using steroids, claiming he wasn’t the same person without it, he was 36 years old and had no motivation to do anything even to workout without being on testosterone. After he got back on it, we had a big fight where I tried to defend myself but he left me bruised and bleeding on the street. He disappeared for a good two weeks, I had by then gotten a protective order. ”

“When he showed up at the house again, he tried to kill me but I  ran away, again bleeding, the cops came but didn’t do anything to him other than serve him his order. The officer said his story was better than mine, and since it was one word against the other he couldn’t do anything. I went to the police station the same day and the officer in charge of my incident got in trouble for not doing anything. He had a protective order on someone and let them go knowing I was in danger,” he elaborated.

My husband at that time, knowing he had done everything to me and a little more and never got in trouble, was very confident when he walked up to the courtroom on our protective order judgment day. He didn’t have a lawyer with him, he walked in smiling at me. When the judge called up his name and he approached the bench, two officers approached him from the side and arrested him on the spot. After I left the police station the day he was served, I was advised to go to the county court and speak to a judge, the judge then ordered his arrest.

“He spent quite some time in jail, but eventually paid bail and left,” he said. “I haven’t seen him since. But the days that followed were not easy. I had just gotten a job in downtown Atlanta as a server, and I was let go after so many visits from investigators and the police checking I was ok. The manager told me it was looking bad for them to have so many officers come around often. 

He remarked, “It was a rough time for me, being alone in a country I didn’t know much about, didn’t speak the language well, had no friends because he would keep me on a leash. I had to start from ground zero, and that is what I did. I made new friends, found support at a place called AHF, that is the Aids healthcare foundation. They help people not only from the LGBTQIA+ community but whoever needs help. I found a lot of support including therapy.”

“I met an amazing woman at the park who after sharing my story she also shared hers, she had also been abused and battered by her ex husband. She welcomed me into her home as her own child. There were nights where she would sleep on the couch and ask me to sleep on her bed because she had to wake up early and didn’t want to wake me up,” he said.

“I got a job as a host at a hair salon called Van Michaels, after a year I was the manager there. I went from being no one, to being looked up to and respected by so many people. During my time in Atlanta I also worked as a bartender at the busiest gay bar in midtown (Ten/X) and did very well for myself working at a State Farm office. A job that brought me to Los Angeles,” he said.

Representing Georgia

“My time in Georgia was what shaped me to be the man I am today,” he said. “It really humbled me, gave me strength in the most difficult time of my life, and introduced me to amazing American people who taught me the ways. Today, I feel so empathetic towards others, and I have met so many people who went through the same struggles as I did. And I try to do for them what others did once for me.”

“Representing Georgia is such an honor,” he admitted. “To be truly honest, I think Georgia represents me more than I represent Georgia; there are so many amazing people there who come from all walks of life, such diversity culturally and geographically. When you think about America today as a whole, it is nothing if not diverse.”

Daily motivations

On his daily motivations, Deere said, “During my lowest days I wondered why keep on living such a miserable life, why not just end things and end the pain. But something in the back of my mind kept on ringing and reminding me of all the opportunities I have been given that a lot of people all around the world wish they could have. I felt so disgusted by myself just to have those thoughts. How could I be so selfish, when I have had the life I had and to be so ungrateful, when millions suffer out there with real problems.” 

“I found strength in knowing I cannot waste the opportunities I have been given. So what motivates me each day is knowing I can influence other people to be strong. To know, no matter what happens, we are so lucky to be alive, and have the opportunity to keep pushing forward and accomplish the little things we want in life. That anyone can do what we set our minds to do,” he added.

Future plans

On his future plans, he revealed, “One of my biggest cheerleaders and my biggest example in life is my mom. She had me when she was 17 years old. My two siblings came later, but she wanted to go back to school and finish high school. My dad was against it. Through all the odds, she finished high school, left my dad when I got older, moved to another city after I came to America, and is succeeding after opening two restaurants with her new boyfriend.”

“She is so hard working, she will do whatever it takes to see me and my siblings happy. I know I was a difficult kid growing up, and my parents didn’t live a fun life because they chose to love me instead. My plans in the future include bringing my mom to America, I know she will do so well here. “She is so hard working, she will do whatever it takes to see me and my siblings happy. I know I was a difficult kid growing up, and my parents didn’t live a fun life because they chose to love me instead. My plans in the future include bringing my mom to America, I know she will do so well here,” he said.

“If I win the Mister USA prize money I want to invest on getting her documents here,” he said. “I also want to donate part of the money to AHF who have helped thousands of people in this country and saved my life. No amount of money can show gratitude to what they did for me. And finally I want to invest in myself and my new Visual Effects business so I can have a stable life and have my own family in the coming years. I would love to have a little Richard running around, learning life through me.”

The best advice that he has ever been given

On the best advice that he has ever been given, he said, “The best advice I have ever gotten was from my late State Farm boss, she passed away a few years ago and I was so sad when I heard the news. She turned me into a very professional man, and I know she would be so proud if she could see me today. She once told me that you can teach people skills, but you can never teach the will. In life, to me things have always been easy to learn, and when an opportunity arises I work my ass off to make things work.”

“I was always so frustrated with people who would let go of amazing opportunities and then complain that life was unfair. I then would tell them that they weren’t working hard enough and that was the reason why. After that advice from my boss, I changed my approach towards people. I knew then that I could no longer try and blame people for not having the same success as me even though they had better opportunities. My two siblings included.”

“Their dream is not to travel the world and move to another country as I did. So after that point I stopped pressuring them to work hard and travel, instead I started encouraging them to do whatever was that they felt passionate about. We are willing to do more things when we find happiness in the little accomplishments, not only the end goal,” he added. 

Career-defining moments

On his career-defining moments, he remarked, “In my first few months being a host at Van Michaels Salon, I quickly learned that Brazilians and Americans are very different. In Brazil we joke about everything and anything. But English is very up for interpretation. I made a joke with my coworker and she started crying non stop. I thought I was going to get fired. Eventually her and I had a talk, and she explained to me her insecurities, and the reason why she felt hurt. That was a moment in my career that really defined me.”

“That was the day I realized I was no longer in Brazil and had to adapt to life here. Americans are so work driven, so professional, and expect respect in a professional environment. I had always been driven, but today I can say with confidence I consider myself an American just as her. With my own story, my own insecurities, my own American professionalism,” he explained.

Favorite motto to live by

His favorite motto to live by is: “life is too short.” “I actually have that tattooed on my neck in Italian. I want to live each and every day, I want to touch as many hearts as I can. I want to be remembered when I leave this world,” he said.

Success

On his definition of success, he said, “Success means to me that putting all the hard work was worth it, even if you haven’t gotten the end goal you expected; such as winning a medal or first place. If the least, after putting in lots of work and time into something, that you have learned good lessons, made friends along the way, or simply made someone else’s life a bit better. Then to me it means you have succeeded.”

Closing thoughts on the 2024 Mister USA competition

“The Mister USA is an event different from most,” he noted. “It is not a bodybuilding competition so having a sculptured body is not the criteria to winning. This competition is brought to inspire other people, to tell stories that need to be told. The person who represents the USA will have to bring a rich and diverse culture to the table, to reach and inspire the most people in a country that is built and founded by hustlers who built their lives from the ground up. People who had to be strong even when they felt alone and on their lowest. People who come from all walks of life.” 

“I know I would best represent the USA because I check all of those boxes. I bring so much diversity, and I know I would touch and inspire the most people in this country with my story and my walks of life,” he concluded.

To learn more about Richard Deere, follow him on Instagram.