Interview with Sirena Wang – Miss New York Chinese 2006 Winner

Sirena Wang, a 20-year-old senior at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, won the annual pageant on Aug. 13 as well as the titles of Miss Talent, Miss Fitness and Miss Internet Popularity. In her second interview with Meniscus, she talked about her pageant experience.

You said [in the preliminaries] that you wanted to get back to Chinese culture and so on. Do you feel that you’ve done that?

Definitely. This month, by living in New York, this area, I feel like I’m back at home! You know, in Alabama it’s a totally different life. For me, New York is more like China, and in Alabama, it’s like America.

We have so many Chinese here. I love this area. I love the temperature. I love the convenience of food and groceries, everything.

Even with the heat wave [in July – temperatures in New York surpassed 100 degrees F] filming that music video?

Oh, trust me – Alabama is hotter than here! [laughs]

So, how do you feel? You’ve won, and you’re going to go on to Hong Kong.

I’m thankful for my parents – this is my cousin and aunt, by the way [motions to them behind her in the room]. They are the only relatives that I have here [attending the pageant]. So I thank my parents, I thank my family and everyone back in China, and all my friends back at BSC – my school – and all my teachers and friends…everyone who supported me.

So you ended up staying with your aunt and cousin while you were here once you found out that you were named as a finalist?

No, actually my aunt and my cousin, they live in Alabama…but I’m coming here without knowing anybody. I’m here all by myself.

So where did you end up staying then?

I stayed at Shirley [Hon’s] house – the MC.

Oh, wow.

Yeah, they have extra rooms and #11, Kelly [Sun], and I, we shared a room together for the past month and a half.

So, everything that you’ve done, what do you think stood out the most – other than winning?

Well, I think, everything. There is no certainty [in life]. You have to try and give your shot…and you can get it! For me, I just always do the best that I can and no matter what the result is, then I’ll be happy with it. And this time, I am really happy with my result.

How did this differ from the other pageant that you competed in, in terms of the format? I know you had some [acting] improv to do…

The only one that I entered – back in 2002, I think – that was pretty informal, and that was for Miss Southern Diversity at my school. That one, we never had training or anything, it was just…you’re in it! That’s it. And the talent part was pretty short, and the question part is different. Of course, this one is more formal and is like a real competition. That one was at my school.

Do you realize that in the Q&A, the swimsuit and the evening gown, you got the highest scores for all three segments?


They displayed all the scores on the screen, and I don’t know if you guys knew what they were.

No, no, I can’t see anything from onstage.

The reason the audience was going, ‘Oh, my God,’ was because of your scores.

Really? I guess one difference I know for sure is that I’m an athlete myself. In order to be on my team, we have to do our training [every] week. And I’m glad that I don’t have huge muscles, you know, from all the training and workouts three times a week. Definitely, from this past month – practice, rehearse and more learning – I lost some weight and lost some muscle! But it’s worth it.

Probably due to stress too.

Yeah. And also, when I first arrived here, I thought, ‘Wow, everybody is so skinny,’ like everybody is skinnier than me. But then, just believe in yourself. Don’t compare with anybody else.

That segues into something I meant to ask you last time about sports. You’re on the rifle team [at Birmingham-Southern College – the team has won the last two NCAA Big South Conference titles]. How did you get into that sport?

I guess it started when I was young, like since 4 years old, I started learning music, learning violin and piano. When I started learning piano, you know, it forces your fingers, it is really important for your nails [to be short].

So, I was very tall at school. Many coaches look for basketball players, volleyball players, and they chose me. They asked my parents and they said no because they wanted me to be more focused on my studies at school and everything that I’m doing right now. When I came here [to the U.S.], I always wanted to fulfill my dream – like, sport is the only thing I can’t do? I don’t want to take that, you know? So I just was doing what I can to take the opportunity at my school, and I got it.