Student Participates in Pageant

El Vaquero Editor in Chief

Behind all the sequins, glitter and eye shadow, these girls know how to walk the walk and talk the talk.

The annual Miss USA Asia pageant, hosted by ABC 7’s Rob Fukuzaki and produced by Virgelia Productions, was held at Glendale’s Alex Theater on April 23 for the second time in its 17-year history, crowning Jennifer Chu, Miss Korea, the 2005 Ms. USA Asia.

Unmarried women between the ages of 17 and 28 represented their respective countries in Asia. Each woman was required to have a minimum of 25 percent of ancestry from an Asian country; GCC student Silva Yesayan, 19, was Miss Armenia in the pageant.

Yesayan heard about the pageant and decided it was something she could have fun with. For her, the best part of her involvement in the pageant was easily “meeting all the people.”

Studying to become a fashion designer, Yesayan, who was born in Abovian, Armenia, came to the United States when she was 5 years old.
She’s been dancing for the last 12 years and does her own choreography as well; at GCC, she was once part of the Dance Club on campus. “I have like a passion for [dancing],” she said.

“There’re 27 candidates and I’m like friends with all of them,” said Yesayan.

In fact, the 27 women represented countries all over Asia including China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Taiwan and Vietnam. Some countries had two or three representatives.

Marcy Liu from Taiwan was the first runner up, Sharla Nguyen from Vietnam was the second runner up, Rekha Muddaraj from India was third runner up and Shana Dhillon, also from India, was fourth runner up. Muddaraj also took home an award for Most Photogenic.

“As Queen, [Miss USA Asia] will be the leading role model of all ladies with the same hope of becoming the ambassador of goodwill,” said Virgelia Villegas, founder of Virgelia Productions and chairwoman of Miss USA Asia.

Another local who participated in the pageant was Glendale’s Carol Safa Nasi, Miss Iraq.

“I’m waiting for the pageant to start before I get too excited,” said the former GCC student, while contenders showed off clothing from their native countries to judges, before the contest began.

Nasi plans to graduate from Cal State Northridge this year with a degree in English literature but wants to become a child psychologist.
Born in Burbank, both her parents are from Baghdad. “I still have a lot of family back home,” she said.

While working at Bank of America in Glendale, Nasi was approached by a member of the pageant; the next thing she knew, she was one of two women representing Iraq in Miss USA Asia. “It all happened so fast,” she said. “It’s been really fun.”

Prior to the start of the pageant, judges met with each woman for a one-question interview, which consisted of questions such as, “If you win the title of Miss USA Asia tonight, what will be the first thing you tell the media?”

Following questioning, the contestants paraded in their native costumes, which were judged for authenticity.

Then the lights turned up and cameras turned on; the pageant was divided into four different competitions: the swim-suit, the evening gown, a multiple choice question such as “Which item in your purse would you keep if you could only keep one?” and the final round, consisting of one question put to each of the final five contestants.
Judge Owen Gonzales understands the importance of the crowning title and took his role in the contest very seriously. “For 365 days, [Miss USA Asia is] going to represent our decision,” he said. “They’re going to be an ambassador…How would they represent Miss Asia?”

The last five contestants were each asked the same question: “If you could chose a career based on one type of criteria, which of the following would you chose: something you enjoy, something that makes a difference in other people’s lives or something that would make a lot of money?”

Chu, who would later be crowned the Queen, answered she would chose a career that would make a difference in other people’s lives because that would in turn be something she would enjoy.

“The qualities you look for [are] if this person were out and about talking about Miss Asia …what would those [people she is talking to] perception be?” said Gonzales.