Meet Miss Vietnam Southern Arizona Contestant No. 4: Tina Le


Rhea Rohr, Editor-in-Chief

On Saturday, April 7, the amazing senior Tina Le participated in the MVSA (Miss Vietnam Southern Arizona) beauty pageant.

She was the youngest of ten contestants competing for the prize of $1,000 and the title of Miss Vietnam Southern Arizona. Tina was first introduced to the contest in 2013, when a family friend participated and ended up winning. She was then reminded of it by a friend, and decided to give it a try.

Everyone who signed up was able to compete, and there were very few requirements:

  • Between ages 17 and 25
  • 1/4 Vietnamese
  • Never been married or had a child
  • The winner had to remain in Arizona for the following two years

Anyone is also free to participate as many times as they wish as long as they still fulfill the requirements.

The practices began in January, although they were initially focused on the New Year’s festival performance at the Vietnamese church which involved a fashion show to show off the contestants. Tina was picked as the People’s Favorite, chosen by the audience, and she won a sash and flowers. After that, the rehearsals focused more on walking, dancing, and speech, although, they spent one Saturday primarily on community service. The girls also took part in photo shoots that got posted on the MVSA Facebook and Instagram, which allowed the followers to get to know the contestants beforehand.

The event started with a traditional hat dance, with all of the girls in the same dress. The dance was incredibly well-coordinated and everyone seemed like they were enjoying themselves. There were also several singing and dance performances, including Brittney Le, a male acapella group called CatCall, the Brothers Lion Dance, and Golden Lotus which Tina is planning on joining next year.

Each girl had three different dresses: two traditional, and one evening gown. They had to walk across the stage several times in each dress. There was also a section where the ladies were asked questions regarding social issues in the US and in Vietnam, which they were able to prepare for before the event. They initially only had to answer two questions out of a list of 60. After the judges scored their performances, they were split into the top five. Unfortunately, it was at this point that Tina was cut out of the competition. Those five then answered another question. It was then split into the top three, where they all answered the same question. Ngoc Nguyen was picked as the winner.

Overall, Tina said that she really loved the experience. She may not have won the money, but she didn’t feel that that was the point of the competition. “The main focus that our coordinators wanted to do was to make this more of a sisterhood kind of thing and stay connected and just have a good time, rather than focusing on being the better one out of a group of girls,” Tina said.

She is planning on staying connected with all of the other participants, and wants to join VSA at the U of A next year.

While she enjoyed her experience, it also caused her quite a bit of stress. “There was this constant voice saying ‘you’re not going to win’ ‘you’re not good enough.'” Tina said that her parents were very against her participating in the competition; her dad was even willing to pay her 1000 dollars for her to not do it. Still, she persevered. She tried to give herself reasons for doing it, such as that she could look back fondly on the memory, rather than just competing for the money. She formed a close bond with all of the girls. On the night before the last rehearsal, everyone gathered to give one of the contestants money for her mom’s cancer treatment. They also created a group chat that they still use frequently.

She explained that “Every time I was doing stuff for the pageant, I felt like I was in a good place.”