China's new hope for Miss Universe

08:19, July 20, 2010      

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Model Tang Wen is confident of her chances in the upcoming 2010 Miss Universe Competition. Lu Zhongqiu / China Daily

Confident 19-year-old Tang Wen is nation's hope for the Miss Universe title and if her unusual selection for the pageant is any clue, this 'oriental beauty' may just make it.

Even though China's best ranking in the Miss Universe pageant so far has been 18th, Tang Wen is not worried. "I think I can make it into the top five," says the confident 19-year-old.

A model with the Beijing-based New Silk Road Modeling Agency (NSR), Tang is putting in 12-hour days in preparation for the upcoming 2010 Miss Universe Competition, which will be held at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Aug 23.

Her daily grind includes learning English until midnight, striking poses for fashion magazines, and learning about foreign cultures. "I never imagined I would undergo training on how to sneeze," she says, laughing.

"I always feel that there are 1.3 billion Chinese people supporting me, and there is a 5,000-year history behind me."

Born in Yichun, Heilongjiang province, Tang had a less than idyllic childhood. Her parents divorced when she was 3 and she moved in with her mother in Beijing when she was 15.

While in college, she earned money on the side by training prospective air hostesses on how to stand tall and wear the right make up. Her outstanding looks made modeling the obvious choice after graduation. "I knew I would end up in the fashion industry when I was very young," she says.

She has taken to the catwalk for most of the important women's fashion brands in China, and is a regular at China International Fashion Weeks. In 2008, she also starred in the movie Not All Women Are Bad by Hong Kong director Tsui Hark, who called her "beautiful without make up".

Tang's selection for the pageant was unusual. She was designated Miss China and sent to the competition directly by NSR, which has a cooperative agreement with the Miss Universe committee.

Faced with a barrage of questions and criticism, the young girl says she "was totally and utterly stressed", but not surprised.

"I felt lucky that NSR sent me directly to the final without holding a selection within the country I think it is because I have experience as an actress, in modeling and was involved in the Olympic Games. I am more qualified," she says.

For NSR's CEO Li Xiaobai, Tang represents a typical "oriental beauty".

"This is the first time we are cooperating with (the) Miss Universe (committee). I have taken the opinions of fashion editors and staff of various luxury brands. They all agreed that we should choose someone who has the 'oriental beauty', and Tang is this kind of beauty," says the man at the helm of the largest modeling business on the Chinese mainland.

Tang says she has spent several nights watching the 2009 Miss Universe video clip and has come away convinced that Asian women are thinner compared to their Western counterparts but also less confident.

"'Oriental beauty' means not only a beautiful face, but also beautiful qualities. People usually think Chinese women are always gentle. This time, I will stand on stage and give a new definition of the Chinese woman - someone who is not only gentle, but also independent and strong," Tang says.

In 2008, director Zhang Yimou picked her to carry the placard for the German team at the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

She had been training for half a year, but just the night before the ceremony, she was told someone else might replace her.

"That would have rendered all the training meaningless. Suddenly, I felt afraid. At that time, I realized I was so eager for this position. It belonged to me."

On the night of August 7 in 2008, all of Tang's teammates were sleeping soundly but she sat crouching in a corner, watching video clips of previous Olympic opening ceremonies broadcast on TV, on mute.

She kept watching the telephone, dreading its ring, fearing that it would be a call telling her she was being replaced.

When dawn broke and she had not received any call, she finally felt safe and fell asleep. In the evening, she appeared in the Bird's Nest with her warm smile.

Unlike other models who love shopping, her hobbies are not only watching basketball, but also reading Shakespeare, long-distance hiking, and car-racing.

"I also believe in 'karma'. What you give is what you get in return."

She admits that because of her straightforward nature, she does not have many friends.

She is looking forward to the Miss Universe competition to fulfill two of her longstanding dreams: One is to travel around the world, and the other, to become more involved in the fashion industry.

"I plan to travel around the world when I retire, but becoming a Miss World can make it happen sooner, and I have always wanted to be an entertainer," she says.

<i>Source: China Daily(By Gan Tian)</i>

(Editor:王寒露)

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