I’ve just come across a piece about Miss Universe China 2011 Luo Zilin by reporter Ray Kwong on Forbes under the tittle: “China Battle Ready…for Miss Universe”.
Meet Miss China
Luo Zilin—her Western friends call her Roseline—is gorgeous. Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, but if looking at her doesn’t make your eyeballs pop out, I don’t know what will.
The statuesque 24-year-old from Shanghai officially tapes in at 1.82 meters, which makes her about six-foot-five with heels on. That’s just an inch shy of high-flying Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (and, yes, the mega-star guard will more than likely play basketball in China next season if the NBA lockout isn’t resolved).
The odds-on favorite to win Miss Universe, the planet’s top international beauty contest, Luo isn’t caught up with all the glitz, glamour and pageantry. Nor are there any signs of shallowness some might expect.
“I’m excited and love what I’m doing,” Luo told me, “but it’s important to keep things in perspective. I understand that I am in a position to make a real impact on any number of important humanitarian causes, not only as a role model, but as a doer. And that responsibility stays with me whether I win or lose.”
Miss China “does not want to disappoint.”
Race for Face
The weight of China and its 1.3 billion populace, however, has got to be a compelling factor to win. “I don’t want to disappoint,” said Luo.
Yue-Sai Kan, national director of Miss Universe China, puts it succinctly: “This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Miss Universe pageant with China recently celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. If Luo Zilin can bring home a win, it would be a matter of great national pride. That being said, it’s also not a matter of life or death.”
Luo will compete against 80 other contestants from around the world. This year’s two-hour Miss Universe telecast will air live from São Paulo, Brazil on September 12, 2011 and is expected to draw a worldwide audience of a whopping one billion viewers.
For fun comparison, last year’s must-watch World Cup attracted “only” 700 million viewers and this year’s U.S. audience for Super Bowl XLV was a mere 111 million, a record-breaker nonetheless. Former U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has owned the Miss Universe contest since 1996, will no doubt make a lot of money. (Before you ask, the Beijing Olympics attracted the largest global TV audience ever: 4.7 billion viewers—or 70% of the world’s population—tuned in to watch the Games, according to Nielsen.)
Beauty Boot Camp
“Roseline is certainly very poised and beautiful, but what really struck me was her genuine and kind demeanor,” says Jim Robinson, managing partner of RRE Ventures. L to R: Roseline Luo Zilin, Robinson, Hannah Li Hanzi, Miss China first runner-up.
In New York to get battle ready for São Paulo, Luo Zilin’s schedule is brutal. Daily dance classes, cat walk training and photo sessions are the norm. As are wardrobe fittings, visits from local celebrities and dignitaries (including the head of French multinational luxury goods conglomerate LVMH) and English immersion training, although to me her English skills are more than adequate.
Toss in excursions to galleries, museums and Broadway for a little local flavor, and you have a busy girl with wall-to-wall days.
Apparently, Luo is used to the pace. “I’ve known Luo Zilin for a very long time,” said Kan, “and she’s the hardest working girl I know. She’s polished and confident, and there’s very little I need to teach her.” Kan knows what she speaks of, as she personally managed the transformation of all 32 of this year’s Miss China contestants, many of which “you would not recognize” from the first day under Kan’s tutelage. Victor Melling would be proud.
Kan, for reference, is a Chinese American television personality, author, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. Her series One World and Yue-Sai’s World, which aired on national Chinese TV, introduced Chinese viewers to Western cultures, various celebrities and other phenomena. Kan is also the official Miss Universe licensee for the People’s Republic of China.
Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, said of Kan earlier this year: “We could not be more excited to partner with the woman we believe to be China’s greatest beauty expert. With Yue-Sai’s efforts, we hope the world will see the first Miss China Universe of which all of China can be proud.”
Bringing Home the Crown
Roseline Luo Zilin was crowned Miss Universe China 2011 at the Mastercard Arena in Beijing on July 10.
China’s netizens seem to be in sync, as millions of netizens from Weibo (China’s Twitter) have already named Luo the “most popular Miss Universe,” according to news reports.
To cover all the bases, Luo Zilin has a world-class support team including Lu Sierra, the runway coach for Miss USA; 5-year Miss Universe trainer Akiko Shimizu, the author of Hello, Elegant; chief fashion stylist Lizzette Kattan, who was fashion director and editor-in-chief for Harper’s Bazaar France; make-up artist Yuko Takahashi, who has worked with pop divas Lady Gaga and Beyonce; and celebrity fashion photographer Fadil Berisha.
Luo, incidentally, recently met Miss USA, Alyssa Campanella, and they seem to have hit it off. If pageant officials approve, Miss China and Miss USA will be roommates for the three weeks they’ll be in Brazil leading up to the Miss Universe final competition. (Can you say ‘reality’ show?)
For the record, no entrant from China, including Hong Kong, has ever won the Miss Universe competition. The best ever contender was Zhuo Ling, Miss China 2002, who was second runner-up. For the best showing before that, you’d have to go back to Judy Dan, Miss Hong Kong 1952, who was third runner-up at the very first Miss Universe pageant.
Oh, yes, it would be thoughtless of me not to tell you that: Luo Zilin prefers sipping water over Coke or Pepsi and noshing on steamed cauliflower instead of KFC or McD’s. Her favorite movie is Sex in the City and her taste in music ranges from jazz to hip hop, depending on her mood. She also doesn’t have a boyfriend. (Good luck with that.)