Beauty and the Brains: TingLi Lorigiano

Concordia Biology Major wins Miss Chinese Montreal Pageant

  • TingLi Lorigiano, crowned Miss Chinese Montreal 2014

Most people recognize first year Biology major TingLi Lorigiano as VP of Academic and Loyola Affairs for Concordia’s Arts and Science Federation Association. Few know of her secret life as a beauty pageant queen and Miss Chinese Montreal 2014.

Organized annually by Ruth Koo Lam, president of the Montreal Chinese Community Radio and Television Association, Montreal is the only city that boasts running such a pageant for 30 consecutive years.

The winner represents Montreal at the Miss Chinese International Pageant in Hong Kong.

“I didn’t start as a ‘toddler and tiara,’” Lorigiano said. “I always felt like I was very Chinese and I never reached out to the Montreal Chinese community.”

20-year-old Lorigiano had no previous beauty pageant experience prior to this year’s competition, but she is a freelance model, and an official spokesmodel for Chinese companies who produce eco-friendly faucets and international porcelain.

She speaks four languages—English, French, Chinese and Italian, which is her minor at Concordia.

In Lorigiano’s spare time, she plays acoustic guitar, bass, writes music, tutors and does yoga. She also adores sushi. “I eat a lot of sushi. All-you-can-eat sushi competitions […] yes, that’s something I do,” she laughed.

In the time leading up to the Miss Chinese Montreal show, Lorigiano and 39 other contestants met three times a day for three months for training, which consisted of dance, catwalk and public speaking lessons.

Throughout the training period, contestants were eliminated if they “couldn’t keep up.” Lorigiano found there was no conflict between the girls, and described the training as a “bonding experience.”

“I never felt like I was really competing against them. It comes to the day of the show, and it’s bittersweet because you have been spending all this time with the girls,” she said.

The show was held in October, at the Holiday Inn in Montreal’s Chinatown. The judges narrowed the contestants down to seven.

Lorigiano said the judges were looking for an ambassador, someone who could represent Montreal as well as its Chinese community. It is expected that the participants are fluent in Chinese and French.

Lorigiano learned three traditional Chinese dances, modeled a swimsuit, (“It’s a beauty pageant, so figure is important,” she noted), and came up with a thoughtful answer for the question period in which the contestants picked a random question out of a hat.

They had to answer immediately without time for preparation. Contestants had the freedom to answer in any language; Lorigiano answered using four.

Lorigiano did not expect to win the competition. Now, she flies to Hong Kong to participate at the international level on Jan. 1, 2014, and will be training for four weeks at a hotel with 29 other contestants.

The participants will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with Hong Kong, sightsee and meet the judges. Lorigiano describes the grand prize as being “undefined,” consisting of many opportunities for fame within the Asian community.

The winner will receive prizes such as modeling, acting, TV soap opera and movie contracts. TVB, the largest television network in Asia, is hosting the pageant.

The event will reward the contestants with plenty of exposure.

“I’m not doing it for [the fame]. I want to put Montreal on the map. I’m very much a Montrealer. [The pageant] is something I wanted to try, a new experience. I wanted to touch base with my Chinese roots,” Lorigiano said.

The last Montrealer to win the Miss Chinese International was Christy Chung in 1993.

For pageant hopefuls, Lorigiano has a few words of advice. “Be confident. It’s so cliché. Know what you want going into [the competition] and focus all your energy on your end-goal.”

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