Victoria Jolly (左慧琪) Interview – Miss Hong Kong 2002 Pageant

Victoria Jane Jolly
1st runner-up & Miss Popularity, Miss Hong Kong 2002
Contestant, Miss World 2002

It’s been a whirlwind for Victoria, a 20-year-old student at the University of Birmingham in England. The daughter of an English father and Chinese mother, Victoria interrupted an internship at a top Hong Kong hotel to enter the pageant. Her career plans now on hold after winning the 1st runner-up and Miss Popularity titles, Victoria represented Hong Kong at the 2002 Miss World Pageant in London, where she narrowly missed a spot in the semifinals. For the big sister to three younger brothers, a contract with TVB has translated into public appearances, goodwill trips to destinations like Thailand and few hours of sleep.

Meniscus: First of all, congratulations on your 1st runner-up finish. How has life changed for you since then?

Victoria: Thank you for the congratulations. Since the night of Sunday, August 11th, my life has changed in many respects and I guess you could say that my life has become open to public scrutiny. In the run up to the finals, I had become accustomed to being photographed by the press and being recognized in the street but public interest since that night has risen dramatically. So much so, I now have to be a little more circumspect in taking public transport and even going out with family or friends has become difficult. Basically, I have no private life.

What do you plan to do for TVB? What have you done so far?

To paraphrase…ask not what I plan to do for TVB but what TVB plans to do with me. In the advent of becoming a TVB Pearl Ambassador alongside Amanda Boll, a great deal of time has been and will continue to be spent on promotional activities to raise the profile of alternative (not just English) language television. To date, this has been going well and most recently Amanda and I unveiled three double decker buses, which have been decked out with our larger-than-life pictures.

There have been many duties associated with being runner-up to Miss Hong Kong such as charity events and these can be immensely satisfying though sometimes tinted with a degree of sadness.

One of the highlights on the purely entertainment side of the business was recording a music video with Dave Wong Kit. I have never in my wildest dreams ever thought that I would appear in a music video.

One of the sticking points with the Hong Kong media was the fact that you weren’t fluent in Cantonese, although I doubt you were the only contestant who fell under this category. Did you feel you had been singled out more than the others had?

Facts are facts…my Cantonese is far from fluent and although I am told it’s getting better all the time, my diction will probably never be perfect. I never felt singled out by the criticism of my Cantonese as some of the other girls were being treated far more unfairly in other respects.

Any examples?

It would be unfair to single anybody out but there were numerous, almost daily, insulting captions or headlines unfairly criticizing either a girl’s figure or her personality.

You are, from what I understand, fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish. How did you get the opportunity to learn so many languages – through schooling, travel?

I would not say that I am fluent in all of the languages but I do hold pretty average qualifications through study. Undeniably, I am most fluent in English and I got to practice French outside the classroom as one of my closest school friends was from Monaco. I studied Italian and Spanish because I knew the languages would be useful in my career.

You’ve mentioned that the media in Hong Kong “enjoys a great deal of freedom, arguably, more so than in the western world.” How so?

The front pages of several of today’s (Oct. 14, 2002) newspapers show the carnage in the aftermath of the tragedy in Bali in graphic detail and glorious Technicolor. The victims of this monstrous crime – and their family and friends – have rights to dignity that are conveniently usurped in the name of the freedom of the press.

After Cerina Da Graca had nabbed so many of the early prizes, what was the consensus among the other girls? Was first place a foregone conclusion? [Note: Da Graca was an overseas contestant from Phoenix, Ariz. Prior to the finals, she won three out of five special awards, including Miss Photogenic, who traditionally goes on to win the entire pageant.]

I do not believe first, second or third places were ever a forgone conclusion. The early prizes were judged under different circumstances and all the other girls respected this fact.

Looking back to the two and a half months of preparation for Miss Hong Kong, which moment or moments stand out?

The trip to Saipan was memorable as it gave all us a chance to be together as a group and forge lasting friendships. I also enjoyed the pre-show on the day before the finals as some of my very best friends in Hong Kong managed to come along to show support. It was also something of a red letter day as I won the ‘Miss Popularity’ award.

Pageant spectators get to see what happens onstage and in the media glare. What happens behind the scenes that people don’t get to see, but should know?

Hard work.

Now that you’ve had a pretty in-depth glimpse into the Hong Kong entertainment industry, has anything about it surprised you?

The fact that most of the so-called stars are pretty regular people.

Tell me a bit more about the buffet dinner following the pageant. Whose idea was it to have the winner treat? How did that get started?

The Chinese dinner celebration after the pageant was attended by everybody involved in the production, including make-up artists, etc., and it was paid for by TVB. The buffet lunch that some of the girls and I attended some days after the event was a private affair arranged amongst ourselves. There was never any suggestion that Tiffany [Lam, Miss Hong Kong 2002] should treat but she took it upon herself to pay.

What decision have you made on your university studies? How did you become interested in the hotel industry as opposed to cruise ships or restaurants?

My studies have been put on hold until 2004 and all things being equal I will return to the Park Lane Hotel in Causeway Bay to complete my internship next autumn. I chose to study for a degree in hospitality business management so that I would have the broadest possible options of career path. Whilst my ultimate goal is to be the general manager of a world class hotel, I may take an alternate route.

You mentioned in your TVB Weekly profile that, given the chance, you would “like to help reduce student suicides.” I remember reading somewhere that in Hong Kong — particularly among females – suicides among young people are quite common. How do you plan to help reverse this?

The student suicide rate in Hong Kong is appalling in my estimation and the tragedy of events is by no means particular to females. I would hope that by becoming a good role model and by helping with awareness programs that I might contribute something. The fact that you have chosen to highlight this particular point may well help.

Now, on a more lighthearted note, I’m going to give you some pairs and you tell me which is your preference for each. Here goes…

Dim sum or pub grub?

No contest…dim sum every time…presentation and sheer variety must surely appeal to most gastronomic tastes.

English tea or bubble tea?

English tea in the mornings…otherwise I have to rate these equally.

Nicky or Paris Hilton?

I had to look this pair up on the Internet…does that answer the question?

Here’s a tough one…Britain or Hong Kong?

Not at all difficult…Hong Kong…there’s no place like home and home is where the heart is!