NY Chinese beauty pageant seeks contestants

Updated: 2014-05-07 06:22

By AMY HE in New York (China Daily USA)

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The annual Miss New York Chinese Beauty Pageant finale is more than three months away, and its organizers are seeking women aged 17 to 25 of Chinese descent to enter the competition, with the winner to appear in a bigger beauty pageant in Hong Kong.

The current Miss New York Chinese Beauty Pageant was founded in 2002 by Eric Yuen Jason Kong and William Yip.

Yuen was in the media industry in Hong Kong for years, organizing and promoting singers before coming to the United States. He worked with beauty pageant organizers in New York's Chinatown for a while, but said he didn't find the work satisfying.

"After I started working with these beauty pageants, I realized that I had no control over anything,"he told China Daily. "I felt like there were many things I could improve on from an organizational aspect, but because I wasn't the organizer, there was nothing I could do. I was just the middleman and that was difficult.”

Yuen and his two partners then obtained the licensing rights from TVB in Hong Kong for the Miss NY Chinese Beauty Pageant, which is the state's only Chinese beauty pageant.

Winners have gone on to jobs in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland's entertainment industries, and Yuen said that he's proud that the pageant has become a launching pad for many young women. "Our winners go to Hong Kong and the mainland and they book acting jobs and they eventually build up their careers. Winning this pageant gives them paths of opportunity,"he said.

That's what happened to Danni Wang, the first runner-up in the 2011 pageant. Shenyang-born Wang just returned to the US from Hong Kong after appearing as the lead actress in a local feature film, and also filming a short commercial in December with Leehom Wang, one of Asia's biggest male soloists. "He's someone I grew up watching, and I definitely think that participating in the pageant led me to the opportunity,"she said.

When she was hired for the commercial, her participation in the pageant was mentioned. "A lot of people like that, that I participated in a competition, because they think that I have the confidence to put myself in front of other people,"she said.

Before being a runner-up in the 2011 pageant, she had won Miss Photogenic in the 2010 contest. Her mother had encouraged her to participate to make some friends, she said, and the experience proved to be a valuable experience.

Wang said she constantly felt the need to prove herself the second time she entered the pageant. While it's a lot of work — the contestants have to train for three to four months to learn how to walk, eat, and present themselves in front of others — she said she would recommend it to women looking to learn more about themselves.

"The pageant was like a platform for me. It's not where I got famous, but it was a platform for me to discover myself, to learn all the things I thought I wouldn't be able to do but ended up being able to do anyway,"she said.

Applicants for the pageant pay a $150 entry fee, then $450 if they make it to the semi-finals and $3,000 as a final entry fee and for a trip to China to promote the pageant. The winner of the Miss New York contest gets to enter the Miss China International Beauty Pageant sponsored by TVB.

Wang's experience was similar to Michelle Sun's, who was the first runner-up in last year's competition. "Having a title is always nice and it's nice to put on one's resume, and I've been asked about having participated in the pageant,"said Sun, who grew up in Henan province and came to New York as a middle school student.

Sun said that the pageant taught her to be competitive, to take direction and how to be more feminine. "I feel like it was an intense workshop to train a girl to be a woman,"Sun said.

This year's pageant will again be held at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut on Aug 16.