TOKYO, Oct. 30, 2015 – Representing the exotic cultural crossroads of East and West as Miss Macau International at this year’s global beauty summit, Ana Choi is a woman of overwhelming grace, humble confidence, deep intuition and staggering charm who believes in a special destiny for women she terms “the mightiness of femininity.” As a health advocate, particularly in the area of ovarian and breast cancer awareness, Choi overcame a life-threatening uterine illness half a decade ago and lived to rise not only as a survivor, but as a beautified champion for overcoming adversity.
Today, Choi uses her platform and life story to inspire young people the world over to get healthy, recognize their unique life value as individuals, and promote an end to discrimination. Speaking not less than four languages, educated in Europe and propelled by an almost supernatural force to prominence, Choi is one of the most dynamic personalities one can ever meet. Her compassionate, tenderhearted personality and heart-melting, trust-inspiring ivory smile have won her the adoration of countless hearts all across the Asia-Pacific region and made her a global ambassador for Macau culture.
I had the opportunity earlier this week to interview Choi on her special testimony of overcoming illness, participating in pageants and rising as a leader for women’s issues worldwide.
Dr. Danny de Gracia: Ana, congratulations on representing Macau at this year’s Miss International! I know our readers in Washington, D.C., and around the world are very excited to have the chance to learn about a person as unique and beautiful as you. Tell us a little bit about yourself, what it was like for you growing up, your personal interests, and what led you to get involved in beauty pageantry.
Ana Choi: I am 24 years old and I was born and raised in Macau. I speak four languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, English and Portuguese. Since Macau is a very small territory, I decided to study abroad in order to [get more exposure to] this world. I then spent four years in Switzerland for my event management and tourism degree. I started my job as an event coordinator after returning to Macau. In leisure time, I love to travel, cook, dance and do meditation.
When Macau hosted Miss International in 2008, I told myself that I have to be one of the contestants someday representing Macau in such a glamorous and meaningful pageant, as I believe pageants are still relevant in today’s society.
A pageant is a platform for women to voice themselves and to show the mightiness of femininity. As a woman, I really feel empowered when I am able to represent my territory in Miss International 2015.
DDG: When people talk about the word “beauty,” a lot of different things come to mind. Tell us what “beauty” means to you personally and what you believe beauty is. If someone wants to be “beautiful” what should they do to achieve that goal?
Ana Choi: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all of us have great strengths in different ways. I believe that I am a fighter. I fought and won over a uterus operation five years ago. Since then, I have grown to become a strong, positive, and perseverant person. And now I would like to empower women with ovary and breast cancer around the world and also raise awareness of important health issues. I feel beautiful and strong as a result of that.
DDG: One of the most stunning aspects I’ve noticed about your style is how it combines a very classic, elegant, sophisticated charm with modern 21st century fashion. When you select your outfits and clothing, what are some of the things that drive your fashion choice? Do you have any favorite brands? What’s your favorite color to wear?
Ana Choi: First of all, thanks for the compliment. For the wardrobe during the pageant, all the clothes are selected by my national director and myself. Since we need to stay in Tokyo for three weeks, we have to prepare lots of daywear, cocktail dresses and evening gowns. And we believe that the mixture of different colors and styles are essential.
For the style, I would say elegance, yet comfy is great. My favorite fashion brands include Dolce & Gabbana, Dior and Tory Burch.
DDG: Have you ever considered modeling for any American fashion labels? You definitely have a very compelling, attractive draw that I’m sure a lot of brands in the United States would love to have as their corporate face.
Ana Choi: If one day, I could be one of the model of the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, I could die with a big smile on my happy face.
“There are so many important things in life, such as family, friendship, personal growth, and I value all of them. But I do believe one element that we now should all strive for, and it is unity.”
DDG: Let’s talk a little bit about formal jewelry. When you dress for a big event, do you prefer diamonds or pearls – or both?
Ana Choi: I certainly love both. However when I am going to an event, I pick accessories that match my dress. That’s more important than which kind of jewelry I like more.
DDG: What’s your fitness secret to always staying in shape and always looking beautiful?
Ana Choi: I do go to gym regularly and I usually do cardio and some weight training for training different part of my body. In addition, I love modern dance and meditation as both exercises could help me to relieve stress and keeps my mind very peaceful.
DDG: Let’s talk a little bit about your view about the world and the direction the 21st century is going. What do you think is the most important thing for people in the world right now?
Ana Choi: There are so many important things in life, such as family, friendship and personal growth, and I value all of them. But I do believe one element that we now should all strive for, and it is unity. We have so many issues in the society today, such as all kinds of discrimination, arguments and wars. It is all because we humans cannot appreciate the differences between us. If we always work together and to understand each other more, families will be happier, workplace will be healthier and countries will be more peaceful. The world will definitely be better if we UNITE.
DDG: What would you say motivates and inspires you the most in your life?
Ana Choi: Angelina Jolie always inspires me the most. She is not only a renowned actress and humanitarian, but also one of the bravest woman on earth. Her bravest action is to have her cancer prevention treatment in which her breasts, ovaries and oviduct had been removed. The main reason of doing the operation is that she wants to spend much time to raise her adopted kids. She no doubt shows the whole world the mightiness of motherhood. In addition, I admire her to have spent so much time to fight for human rights and women’s rights, she is no doubt a true heroine.
DDG: If you could change anything in today’s world, what would you change?
Ana Choi: Discrimination! I cannot believe [so] many kinds of discrimination still exist nowadays. I wish to change the mindset of those arrogant people who have been hurting people.
DDG: If there was anything in the world that you could have, what would you choose?
Ana Choi: Health! I am a survivor of a uterus operation that almost cost my life five years ago, so I completely understand how tough the journey is. If I have chance, I definitely want to share my experiences with those women who are suffered from same kind of illness.
DDG: A lot of our newspaper’s readers here in Washington are members of Congress and other senior elected officials. If you could say anything to the people of the United States about Macau and Asia, what would you tell them?
Ana Choi: The United States to me is always a land of liberty and opportunity. And Macau, although it’s a tiny territory, it also offers people, especially youngsters, lots of opportunities. So we shall never stop dreaming and pursuing our goals just like Americans.
DDG: Macau is one of the most fascinating and culturally diverse cities in all of Asia, as it has both Chinese and Portuguese history and heritage. I had the chance to visit Macau in 1991 when I was only 10 years old, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, but many of our readers have never had the chance to visit. Tell us a little bit about what it’s like living in Macau, and some of the places that first-time American tourists should visit in your city.
Ana Choi: Living in Macau is very relaxing, and the local people are very friendly, hospitable and respectful to different cultures. Tourism has always been Macau’s major industry, so we have so much to offer to tourists, from traditional local restaurants to Michelin Star restaurants, from fascinating five-star hotels to world heritage sites.
And I would like to recommend the below places for the first-time American tourists, if they come to Macau:
Macau Tower is the tallest building in Macau. From the top deck, you can see the whole landscape of Macau. Besides, you can play the world’s highest commercial sky jump at Macau Tower too.
Ruins of St. Paul is one of the world’s heritage site and Macau’s best known landmarks. It was a church originally in 16th century; however, after suffering from two serious fires, only the front part of the church still remains.
Also being one of the world’s heritage sites, Largo do Lilau means “a square of fountain” in Portuguese. It’s worth visiting, because there is an urban legend saying that if anyone drinks the water from the fountain, the person will never forget Macau.
“The United States to me is always a land of liberty and opportunity. And Macau, although it’s a tiny territory, it also offers people, especially youngsters, lots of opportunities. So we shall never stop dreaming and pursuing our goals just like Americans.”
DDG: Do you have a favorite food in Macau that you think our readers should try?
Ana Choi: There are loads of great food in Macau, and almond cake would definitely be one of the must try items. Almond cake is a traditional Chinese handmade snack food; it’s sweet and crispy. It’s also one of the most popular souvenirs of Macau. According to the statistics, over 1.5 million almond cakes were sold last year in Macau.
DDG: Have you ever thought about visiting the United States? Are there some places here that you would like to see?
Ana Choi: I always want to visit the United States, and New York is definitely the most desirable destinations. Since my mom is a big fan of “Sex and the City,” I am very into this TV series too. I am always amazed by the ambiance and vibrance of the city. Of course I would love to see the historical side of New York too.
DDG: Last but not least, is there anything on your heart that you would like to say to the world and to our readers?
Ana Choi: I always remember one of my favorite quotes from Audrey Hepburn: “Success is like reaching an important birthday and finding you’re exactly the same.” As a girl from Macau, my core value of life is “Never Give Up,” and if I am crowned as Miss International 2015, I will still be the same person who believes in this value.
I will never give up on inspiring young people to become better persons by sharing my ups and downs.
I will never give up on helping people in need by encouraging them to stay strong and positive, as life is full of surprises.
I will never give up on emphasizing a “peaceful world” to the world, as our lives shall never be affected by arrogant people.
I will never give up on reminding people that we shall always believe in our true self, so that our dignity would be respected.
Last but not least, I will never give up on loving my friends, my family and my beloved one.
Ana Choi is currently a contestant for Miss International 2015. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to interview her and thank her national director for facilitating this interview.