Beauty pageants help women showcase their beauty, both inside and out.
The first NTD Global Chinese Beauty Pageant is no exception.
Its mission is to educate young Chinese women about their heritage, and instill in them traditional values from ancient Chinese culture.
Pageant organizers have reached out to what they call “honorable advisers” who have experience in the beauty industry.
We talked to them to find out more about their backgrounds and their thoughts about this pageant.
Jacqui Phillips’s Journey
Jacqui Phillips, a celebrity make-up artist, television personality, and author, said that she didn’t know where her professional journey would take her.
You are currently at the top of the beauty and makeup arts industry. Tell us about your professional journey and some of your achievements along the way.
I actually started very young. I was scouted to model at probably 14 or 15. I was a very involved athlete at the time, so my parents were like, “No, you’re not moving to Chicago and traveling the world”, which was definitely the best decision. And so when I went to the University of Tampa—I went there to play volleyball—I realized that wasn’t a really good fit for me. So I stayed in school there, but then I started modeling down there. That led me to New York after I graduated. Someone didn’t show up to do a photo shoot, so the photographer said, “Could you do it yourself?” And so I did. It just launched me into this really crazy direction I wasn’t planning.
I should tell you that I always kind of had a knack for it. I did my cousin’s wedding when I was like nine, which I think I put a picture in my book of that. So I was always able to do it. My grandfather was a painter, he was a big commercial painter. In those days, they didn’t have different colors, so he made the color. It must be in my DNA somewhere to just mix whatever color without any formal training.
A friend of mine worked at MTV. She booked me for something, and then I was doing a lot of different TV stations. It was a very fast kind of happy accident. Then I met this makeup artist and she asked, “Would you like to tour with someone?” It ended up being Judy Collins, the singer. I met her, went to her house, did her makeup, and I toured with her for eight years, almost eight years, and did a lot of other jobs because we weren’t on the road all year round. But it was this wonderful, magical experience. So I always say that Judy taught me everything I know.
But that led me to this path of just somewhere I wasn’t planning on going. I figured, well, I’ll just do this for a little while. I always wanted to travel. I think I was excited about modeling because I just wanted to travel. I’m from a really small town in Pennsylvania. My dad was in the Army, so he’s been all over the world and he would always tell me these stories. I would think, “Oh man, I want to go to Europe,” and so I was able to do that through my work, which was amazing.
I hosted on TBN for probably five years. And that was really—all the connections were always through makeup. So it’s just a really unusual set of circumstances. The makeup led me to writing, and then the book led me to realizing how much I enjoyed writing and helping people. I knew I wanted to go back to school. So it’s just been a very long trajectory of meeting amazing people and working with amazing people, having these great experiences. There’s always a few big ones. I remember one day, Judy was singing at the Kennedy Center for Hillary Clinton’s charity. And then that next day, I flew home early alone because I had to do First Lady Laura Bush’s makeup. So in not even 24 hours, I had these two really beautiful experiences with amazing people. So, I don’t know, it’s just like this little girl from the country who got to do a lot of travel and have a lot of blessings. The experiences are blessings.
What inspired you to begin writing children’s books in general? And then this series, “The Adventures of Stushy and Bello,” specifically?
I saw Bello in Stushy together, and I saw this picture in my head. Bello is my kitty. Actually he was given to me—I was out, I adopted him. He was nine weeks old, so he’s going to be 20, July 27. It’s hard to believe. But the first picture I ever saw in my mind, and I drew it, was them riding into the sun together. Stushy was a little puppy in Pennsylvania. He was actually my ex-boyfriend’s dog. I loved him for many years, you know, he was like my puppy for a long time. So this was the first thing I saw in my head. I saw it so vividly, and I always thought if they were like little boys, that’s what they would be doing, you know? I kept being encouraged to write a book, and I was like, “What does anyone want to hear that I have to say?” This man named Dr. Robert Watkins, I was helping him write a little bit for his show that he was producing. And he was like, “You really should write. I’m going to introduce you to this woman, Wendy Walters, and you should just talk to her. She can help you.”
And so this book that was totally unplanned came out before the book I was really there to work on. That is how this series happened. I always say it was like God was putting these stories in me, through me. The ideas just kept coming.
NTD Global Chinese Beauty Pageant
The pageant is geared toward young women of Chinese descent.
It will judge candidates on five “inner virtues” that are valued in traditional Chinese culture: morality, righteousness, propriety, benevolence, and faithfulness.
Unlike most beauty pageants, this one won’t have a swimsuit category.
With all this experience that you’ve had, especially as a beauty expert, what do you think sets Miss NTD apart from other international pageants?
Values—values and the focus on inner beauty, the focus on the five traditions of Chinese culture, which I love, and the focus on kindness. I feel like the values are the overall arch of it all, which is the most important thing. I love that it’s about traditions. We’re losing traditions in this world, and they’re so important. Having wisdom and the inner wisdom and trusting that, and kindness. All those things are what sets this pageant apart. I don’t think there’s anything like it in the world. I do agree that if your heart is beautiful, it comes out and you’re beautiful.
The event is part of NTD’s series of cultural and art events aimed at promoting authentic Chinese culture.
The grand prize winner, who will be crowned “Miss NTD,” will receive a $10,000 cash prize, a sapphire-and-diamond-encrusted tiara, and a selection of fine jewelry and designer dresses.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.