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I confess. I'm definitely one of those who contributed to
the demise of the TV screening of the Miss Singapore Universe pageant.
Discounting these pageants (even after having watched Miss Congeniality)
as fluff and stuff, it was very nice to know that 21 year-old Yong Ying
was not only a beauty queen, she is also a 2nd year Chemistry and Biological
Chemistry undergraduate at NTU who can probably rattle off the elements
in the Periodic Table faster than I can say "Prom Queen!".
And Prom Queen she was. Crowned queen of Meridian Junior
College's 2006 Prom Night, Yong Ying went on to participate in the NUS
Sheares Hall Inter JC pageant. No, she was not one of the top three, she
was something better; she was Ms Model, and that started the string of
Approached by the organisers of the Miss Singapore Universe
pageant, popularly known as MSU, Yong Ying went through the interviews
and was only a step away from potential stardom when she decided to withdraw,
"lack of preparation", she felt. Singapore Sweethearts (my best
friend Google told me that half the male Singaporean population had wanted
to be official photographers for the event, more specifically, "involved
in any way", to drool over the babes) came her way and the rest,
as they say, is history.
Crowned second runner-up, Yong Ying was subsequently talent scouted and
is now, in the process of being groomed to be the NEXT BIG THING. Is that
cool or what? Her first gig was guest performer at the recent School of
Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Idol, where she serenaded the audience
with her rendition of Stefanie Sun's 我怀念的
and FIR's 天天夜夜. Despite the prospect of fame
and fortune, Yong Ying keeps a cool head on her shoulders. A firm loyalty
to staying true to who she is, a deep sense of integrity and sound moral
values are oars that help her navigate the treacherous waters of the industry.
One of the challenges of participating in beauty pageants, she recalls,
was needing to build up the requisite confidence to strut her stuff in
front of a critical audience, an equally critical panel of judges and
a whole bevy of other qualified contestants. Fast forward to today and
Yong Ying now has it down to a workable formula. She prepares herself
physically for her beauty pageant events by eating (?!) and training more,
and ensuring that the tools of the trade (clothes, shoes, accessories,
frequently asked questions) are ready and good to use. Unforeseen circumstances
that threaten to upset her equilibrium? "Be calm, go with the flow,
and use what you have around you," the leggy queen-to-be advises.
The end goal, she says, of being trained in hosting, dancing and singing
amongst other things in order to be an all-rounded artiste with a defining
personality is so that she has the influence to promote a culture, a habit,
and to "pay it forward". When detractors come her way, she chooses
the better path of remaining optimistic, reflecting and improving through
negative comments, turning the situation around for good.
Accepting that people age, Yong Ying says that "life is not all
about looks." Notwithstanding, she makes the effort to look good,
and lives by mascara to refresh her look instantly. That, and a good make-up
base, eye-liner, blusher and lipstick.
All through the interview, Yong Ying never once slouches, answers all
questions earnestly and with the utmost sincerity. Is she like that all
the time, I wonder. Yong Ying smiles, and says that she goes all "crazy
and nonsensical" when she is with her girlfriends. I leave her talent
agency, a small seed of pride in my heart, because if and when she becomes
THE celebrity (and I hope she does), we got the first scoop on her!