Lights, Camera, Pageant!

Selina performing in a pink dressNovember was a pretty big month for the Chinese-Canadian community in the Greater Toronto Area. That’s when the news and excitement of the Miss Chinese Toronto Pageant is buzzing in the media the most. 

And, this year’s pageant is extra special for the Waterloo community, because a fellow Warrior was a top 10 finalist! 

In mid-September, third year student Selina Cheung found out about this exciting news. Having just moved in into her new Waterloo apartment, she packed everything back up within two weeks, moved back to Markham, Ontario and enrolled in online courses to continue working on her degree. I was lucky enough to chat with Selina about what it was like to train, compete, and get on stage to perform on national television.

Q: What year and program are you in?

Selina: I am in my third year majoring in Speech Communication, and double minoring in Human Resources Management and Digital Arts Communication!

full body portrait of SelinaQ: How did you hear about this pageant?

Selina: I grew up watching Fairchild TV and TVB, which are the channels that would broadcast the Miss Chinese Toronto Pageant. I remember the pageant being an annual event; I’ve always known the theme song and signature wave. It’s a well-known event in the GTA’s Chinese community, so having been able to participate in it is something myself, my family and my friends are incredibly proud of.

Q: What made you decide to apply?

Selina: For the longest time, family, friends and even strangers would encourage me to join.
When I was a child, I was extremely shy, but I loved to perform. Dancing allowed me to embody different characters other than myself and gave me an opportunity to deliver a story and evoke various emotions from an audience. From my journey of exploring different methods of performing, my confidence continued to rise and I began to actively challenge myself out of my comfort zone.
I’ve done many performances, modelled for a purse company, and participated in a dance competition two years prior to joining this pageant. So, I guess it was the people around me constantly encouraging me to join. But, I personally already enjoy being on stage, which ultimately made me decide to apply. I thought any experience is a learning experience, and it’ll be fun anyway.

Q: How did you feel when you placed top 10?

Selina: Placing top 10 meant that I would join the actual pageant that was going to be broadcast on TV. That meant endless amounts of rehearsal, press events and training. I was ecstatic and ready to take on what was being offered. I knew that it would be a fun, but stressful journey and I was excited to tackle it.

Q: What was training and rehearsals like? What did you have to do?

Selina in Chinese-inspired garment Selina: We had two types of training: dance and catwalk. Dance was roughly around three times a week and almost every day when it was closer to show day! Catwalk was once a week. There were seven parts of the show that needed to be choreographed and we would learn, practice and fine tune the choreography during the course of three months. I learned how to stand, pose, walk in five inch heels every week and explored different facial expressions during catwalk training! Dance was around three or four hours and although it was more physically tiring, it was always fun for me because I enjoy dancing and I was used to long rehearsals.

On top of training, we also had many photo and video shoots, television and radio interviews, sponsorship visits, and many events to attend. Overall, my Chinese and oral communication skills definitely improved, and I’m a lot more comfortable wearing five inch heels, constantly standing with a good posture and smiling for long periods of time!

Q: What were the other contestants like?  In what ways were you similar and different?

Selina: Whenever someone finds out that I joined this pageant, they would ask me “Is there any drama? Are the girls stuck up?” Honestly, I was initially surprised anyone would ask this, but I guess it’s because that is a stereotype of pageants and I’m aware that there could very much be drama in any competition.
However, I’m lucky enough to have met a group of girls - who I now call my friends - that were very encouraging throughout the pageant! Being the youngest and one out of the three Canadian-born finalists, there was a slight age and cultural gap. Despite this, I did not feel out of place and my thoughts and opinions were not discarded. Instead, I learned a lot and am very happy to have made new friends.
Selina performing her dance for the talent portion of the pageant

Q: So, since this is a pageant, I was wondering…did you win anything?

Selina: I had the honour of being awarded Miss Photogenic on the night of the 2017 Miss Chinese Toronto Pageant! When my name was announced, I was ecstatic and extremely happy. This was actually an award that I wanted and I am very blessed to be presented with it. I believe that if you want to pursue entertainment of any sort, being photogenic is crucial, thus I am very honoured to be receive this acknowledgement.

Q: Congrats! So, what’s next for Miss Photogenic?

Selina: As of now, my plans are to finish university and get my degree. However, I’m interested in any opportunities that might arise!

Interested in keeping up with Selina? Check out her Instagram @cheungselina for post-pageant activities and events.

Read about more student accomplishments on the UWaterloo Life blog.

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