On the Scene with Stephanie Wang
Miss Hawaii Chinese 2017 Stephanie Wang was the only Chinese girl in her elementary school when her family returned to New York from Hong Kong.
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Miss Hawaii Chinese 2017 Stephanie Wang was born in Flushing, N.Y., picked up some Cantonese as a preschooler in Hong Kong and was the only Chinese girl in her elementary school when her family returned to New York.
A Hawaii resident since 1999, Wang, 24, graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in Chinese language and literature. She has a growing list of credits as a fashion model and actress, including appearances on “Hawaii Five-0.” She speaks Mandarin, Japanese and Spanish as well as English.
Wang leaves today for San Francisco to represent Hawaii at the 2017 Miss Chinatown USA Pageant on Saturday. Women from Hawaii have won the title 14 times since the first Miss Chinatown USA was crowned in 1958, but Hawaii’s most recent win was in 2003. Wang hopes to break the drought.
JOHN BERGER: What’s the biggest difference, if any, between the national pageant and our pageant?
STEPHANIE WANG: The only big difference is that there’s no personal interview (in the national pageant). Each contestant submits a bio video, and that’s the only time that the judges can really get to know you on a deeper level. I’m going to give it all I’ve got and show them the aloha spirit.
JB: Unlike the Narcissus Pageant, Miss Chinatown Hawaii has a swimsuit competition. You competed for Narcissus Queen in 2012 and placed as second princess. Was wearing a bikini onstage a concern for you when you ran for Miss Chinatown?
SW: Swimsuit is actually one of my favorite parts, but it was one of the hardest parts for me transitioning from Narcissus to Miss Chinatown Hawaii. When I won the title Miss Chinatown Hawaii 2015 and then ran for Miss Hawaii, it was my first time onstage in a swimsuit ever.
Now I know that what the judges are looking for is not just how good you look in a swimsuit; it’s the confidence you exude while you’re walking onstage that really wins over the judges.
JB: What are some things that might surprise people who see you at a cultural event wearing your cheongsam (traditional Chinese dress), sash and tiara?
SW: I’m scuba certified, I love to play first-person shooter video games and I love horror movies.
The first movie I ever saw was “Stephen King’s ‘It.’” I watched it with my father when I was 4 years old.
“On the Scene” appears weekly in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Sunday Magazine. Reach John Berger at email@example.com.