Interview with Ashley Zhu, Miss New York Chinese 2006 Contestant #12

Born: Guangzhou, China
Age: 21
Occupation: Student at New York University

Meniscus: What are you studying?

Ashley: Communications.

What is your ambition?

To be a businesswoman.

Is this the first pageant that you’ve entered or have you done others?

I’ve done others before (names a Chinese pageant in Mandarin). I joined a pageant in Beijing – I joined two pageants there.

I understand that you have modeling experience. Can you tell me a little bit about what you’ve done?

Yeah, just like the catwalk. I was a commercial model before editorial, and in high school, then I changed to [being a] runway model.

You were probably very comfortable with the photo shoots today. Is it a little bit different when people are giving you orders and telling you where to stand?

Yeah. I just show my poses myself.

Can you tell me a little bit about your talent portion that you’re doing?

For the finals, for the talent, I’ll play the accordion.

Really. How long have you played?

Oh, since I was 4 years old.

Wow. Did you take lessons too?

No, not really. I took lessons before in China from like kindergarten school to primary school.

That’s a very unusual talent for music. Most people do piano or violin.

Yeah, exactly. In the preliminary interview, I played piano. [But] Eric [Yuen, the pageant’s executive director] said that too many contestants were playing the piano, so he asked, ‘Can you change to another talent?’

And you happened to know the accordion.

Yeah. I was [also] a conductor in the orchestra.

In school?

In school. From primary school and high school.

Ashley later said that the contestants had their measurements taken for the custom-made clothes, which included the cheongsam she wore in the Miss Photogenic competition. She said that she wished she could keep it, but they had to return everything!