She was named the first runner-up in the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant while representing New Jersey and represented California in the 2011 Miss USA pageant. As the reigning Miss USA, she represented the United States in the Miss Universe 2011 pageant held in São Paulo, Brazil, in September 2011, where she finished in the top 16.
Campanella was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey on March 21, 1990. She is the eldest daughter of John and Anne-Marie Campanella. She has one younger sister, Jessica. She grew up in Manalapan and attended Freehold Township High School in Freehold Township.
At age 17, she attended the NY Conservatory for Dramatic Arts where she studied acting for film and television. She also attended the Institute of Culinary Education.
In October 2006, Campanella was crowned Miss New Jersey Teen USA 2007 and represented her state at Miss Teen USA 2007, broadcast live from Pasadena, California on August 24, 2007, placing first runner up to eventual winner, Hilary Cruz of Colorado. She is currently the highest placing New Jersey teen state titleholder in the Miss Teen USA competition.
On November 21, 2010, she competed in the Miss California USA pageant and won the title. She was the first Miss Teen USA state delegate to represent California at Miss USA since Shauna Gambill in 1998. She was heavily favored by oddsmakers to win the title of Miss USA.
On June 19, 2011, she won the Miss USA title in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is the second redhead to win the Miss USA title. As Miss USA 2011, she went on to compete in Miss Universe 2011 on September 12, 2011 in Brazil, and placed in the top 16. Her sister titleholders were Danielle Doty of Texas and Leila Lopes of Angola. She is the first Miss Teen USA first runner up to win the Miss USA title.
On June 26, 2011, Miss California USA director Keith Lewis announced Campanella passed the Miss California USA title to Katie Blair who is Miss Teen USA 2006, Miss California USA 2011 1st runner-up.
During her reign she traveled numerous trips across the United States. She also traveled to Cannes, Monaco, Brazil, Germany, Canada, and the Bahamas. Campanella traveled to Germany with her sister titleholders for a week-long USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour on March 9–14, 2012.
On June 3, 2012, Campanella crowned Olivia Culpo as her successor in Las Vegas, who ultimately went on to win the title of Miss Universe.
Campanella currently resides in Los Angeles, California. She is an avid Vancouver Canucks fan.
Her father is of Italian descent (from Naples) and her mother is of Danish and German ancestry. Her maternal grandfather immigrated from Helsingør in Denmark.
In January 2012, she was one of eight celebrities participating in the Food Network reality series Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. She was eliminated in the second week of the competition. Despite her early elimination, she has said cooking is a major passion of hers. She frequently posts new recipes and photos with her fans.
She is currently a working model, actress, and host based in Los Angeles.