Amanda Boll (保采芬) Interview – Miss Hong Kong 2002 Pageant

Amanda Edith Boll

Winner, Miss Chinatown Melbourne 2000
Contestant, Miss Chinese International 2001
Finalist, Miss Hong Kong 2002

Amanda, 20, was a finalist (top 12) at the 2002 Miss Hong Kong Pageant. No stranger to pageants or the “Fragrant Harbor,” Amanda represented the city of Melbourne, Australia, at the 2001 Miss Chinese International Pageant in Hong Kong. After that particular competition, TVB offered Amanda an acting contract, but at the time she turned it down to resume her studies at Monash University in Melbourne. She took some time out of her busy Miss Hong Kong schedule to answer some questions about her past pageants, her career plans and the pesky Hong Kong media.

Meniscus: Your bio says that you’re of Swiss origin, but you were born in Hong Kong and represented Melbourne at the 2001 Miss Chinese International Pageant. How much time did you spend in each location?

Amanda: Well, my dad is from Switzerland and my mum is from Hong Kong. I too was born in Hong Kong. I left Hong Kong when I was about three years old. We moved to Australia as my dad’s work had sent him to Australia. I usually come back to Hong Kong every holiday. As for Switzerland, we usually go there every year to visit family.

Tell me a bit more about Miss Chinatown Melbourne 2000. Was that your first pageant? Why did you enter?

Miss Chinatown Melbourne was my first pageant. I had just finished high school and saw an ad in the local Chinese paper. I sent in my application. I thought I would try something different and perhaps learn something new on the way. Before I knew it, one thing led to another and I was crowned Miss Chinatown Melbourne 2000. I was happy, of course, but also surprised. It was only after winning that I realized I now had to go to Hong Kong to represent Melbourne in the Miss Chinese International Pageant. [The] Miss Chinese International Pageant was great. I got to meet all these beautiful girls from around the world.

What did most of your duties as Miss Chinatown Melbourne entail in terms of appearances?

As title winner of Miss Chinatown Melbourne, I had to attend many functions. There are lots of different Chinese clubs in Melbourne, so I was invited to many of these functions. I also did a lot of fund-raising. One [event] that I remember most clearly: I was at a fundraiser for a Chinese temple where I was selling flowers. It was great because I got to talk to the public and just got to mingle, it was fun!

How would you compare your experiences at Miss Chinese International 2001 to Miss Hong Kong 2002?

I would have to say the Miss Hong Kong Pageant is a lot tougher, a lot more demanding. The preparation for the Miss Hong Kong Pageant is a lot longer (about two and a half months) but Miss Chinese International was less than a month.

I hate to bring up a sore point, but you’ve mentioned that you felt the 2001 Miss Chinese International Pageant was fixed for the Vancouver contestant, Bernice Liu, to win. What were the clear signs of this, and do you think that this turned the pageant into more of a “talent scout” competition? *

First, I must clear up a point…I never made such comments. I never said the pageant was fixed for Bernice to win. Bernice is beautiful and talented, and on the night I think she performed very well. She earned the title. I became very good friends with Bernice and got to know her very well.

How competitive are the pageants in Hong Kong compared to the others you’ve competed in? Does the media add much pressure?

I would have to say that the media do play a big role and at times can be stressful. The media in Hong Kong are a lot more critical. Sometimes reading the paper or the magazines can be hurtful, as sometimes they don’t write the nicest things or [write] things which aren’t exactly true. So I guess sometimes if we read something bad, we might want to try to prove them wrong, or if it’s something good – like being labeled a “favorite” – we must try to live up to people’s expectations. So yes, sometimes the press can be challenging and add to the pressure.

You also mentioned that two reporters stalked you at a shopping mall during Miss Chinese International. What happened?! *

Well, to be honest, I don’t know exactly how many reporters there were. We had the afternoon off, so a few girls and I decided to go down to the shopping mall and shop! As we walked out of a shop, one of the girls said they saw a reporter and they just took a photo of us. At first I didn’t believe her. But after a while, I noticed a guy who kept following us. When we turned around to look at him, he would stop walking and pretend to talk on the phone. This happened several times and we started to think it was a little odd. After a while, we felt rather uncomfortable, as our every move was being watched and photographed. So we decided to go back to the hotel where we could get some privacy.

* Both of these questions were based on Monash University message board posts that were credited with the name Amanda Boll. The URLs for these posts, which have since been taken off of Monash’s server, were reportedly published in an issue of Sudden Weekly (a Hong Kong-based magazine). The messages were first-person accounts of the 2001 Miss Chinese International Pageant.

At this year’s Miss Hong Kong and Miss Chinese International, a “Svelte Beauty Award” was awarded to the contestant who lost a considerable number of inches during the pageant festivities. I can’t think of a similar award in other pageants, but I am wondering – do you think that the Hong Kong society puts too much emphasis on losing weight?

Compared to other countries, yes, I think the Hong Kong society has a stronger emphasis on losing weight. But this does not make it right. I think Hong Kong people are naturally skinnier than some other places. I also think everyone sees things differently and maybe Hong Kong’s overall public believes that to be skinny is to be beautiful. Therefore children who grow up in a society that has these values automatically take them up too. But I believe in the end, we should not try to fit into what society believes to be beautiful, but to look at yourself, and ask yourself if you are happy with yourself. If you don’t see a problem and you are happy, then that is all that matters.

So after Miss Chinese International, you’re offered a contract with TVB, but you turn it down. After a change of heart, you’ve decided to pursue an entertainment career in Hong Kong. Why did you choose to enter Miss Hong Kong to do so?

I have always been interested in the entertainment industry. But when I entered the Miss Chinese International Pageant, I was only 19 and my Chinese was not very good. I was still unsure of what I wanted, so I went back to Melbourne and continued studying. After studying a further year, I had time to think and reflect. I decided that I wanted to be an artiste. I started doing some modeling in Melbourne but it didn’t come close to my experience at the Miss Chinese International Pageant. So then I decided I wanted to come back to Hong Kong.

Do you want to be an actor, a singer, or both? Did you have a performing arts background growing up?

My dream is to be a singer. I love music, dance and singing, so to get a record deal would really make my day! But I would also like to act. I think nowadays we cannot just focus on one part of the entertainment industry, we must learn and know lots of other things. The more we know, the more multi-skilled we are, and the more successful we will be! When I was little, I did a lot of dancing, and in the last year I had a lot of singing lessons, and [have] taken up dancing again. In high school, I was in a few dramas where I did a bit of acting, singing and dancing.

Would you consider returning to Australia or Monash University?

So far my plans are to stay in Hong Kong and see what happens. I will not rule anything out as I don’t know what the future holds for me.

In most pageants, contestants get to style their own hair, pick out their own wardrobe, and perform their own talents. In Miss Hong Kong, it seems that everything is provided or “manufactured” for the contestants. Do you prefer one style over the other?

I think sometimes some structure is good, as if everyone does the same thing it can be judged easier – for example, comparing apples to apples, and not apples with oranges. But if it is too structured, sometimes these individual talents might not show through or might be missed. Therefore, sometimes a little freedom can bring out each contestant’s individuality and best points. There are good and bad points for both styles and I think the best is a combination of both.