2021 is almost over, how did you do? In a recent interview, Shirley Yu shared some of her “pageant wisdom” with us. Shirley is the winner of Miss Vancouver World 2021; she also competed in Miss World Canada 2021 held in Toronto earlier this year, representing B.C. As an immigrant who came to Vancouver with her family when she was four, she understands the importance of diversity and embraces multiculturalism. Through pageantry, she wants to tell every young woman out there that believing in yourself is the key to make impossible possible. We hope the following conversation with Shirley will give you some inspiration before we wrap up this yet another unusual year. —Louisa Chan
First of all, please tell us a little about yourself.
Hi everyone, my name is Shirley. I was born in Shanghai, and at the age of four I immigrated to Vancouver, Canada, with my family. I’m currently working as a model, production coordinator, freelance graphic designer, nail technician and English teacher. Besides the busy work schedule, I’m also following my dreams and passion in pageantry by representing my city and country to compete on both national and international stages. I also love dancing, so during my free time, you might find me dancing in public areas such as in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Richmond Night Market, etc.
How did you find yourself interested in pageant and how did you get involved?
I was first involved in pageant while I was modelling and working in Japan. The very first pageant I joined was called Miss Great 2019 held in Osaka where I had the honour to represent my birth country, China. I’ve always been interested and curious about how pageants work since I was a child. Therefore, I took the opportunity when it came to me even though I wasn’t quite ready for it. After competing in the first pageant, I understood the meaning of wearing a sash, it’s a sash of a country that I was representing. I wasn’t very happy with my first performance, therefore, in early March of 2021, I started to train extra hard and put extra effort into my next pageant which is Miss World Canada.
During your journey of Miss World, what did you learn or gain from your experience? Any fun or heart-warming stories to share?
During my journey to Miss World Canada, I learned how to listen to myself, express myself to the public, and serving my community. One of the most heart-warming moment for me is knowing that there are many people out there who supported me. Throughout the journey, I’ve gained lots of support, made friendships with my pageant sisters across Canada, as well as a voice where I can speak for myself and for the people who I cared for. I sincerely thank those who have been with me since the very beginning. Shi Nail & Shi Nail Blue were my primary sponsor who made me felt beautiful and shine on the stage. And now of course, VITA Daily, thank you for the sharing my story to the community.
As an Asian-Canadian, what’s the message you wanted to share with your audience or fans through pageants?
I’m proud to be an Asian-Canadian. I grew up understanding the importance of diversity and multiculturalism, and it’s something that I treasure. As a child, I struggled until grade 6 when I didn’t feel culturally included. Therefore, I advocate for cultural inclusion, and through pageants I would like people to understand that we are all uniquely different. We each play a role in the community that makes Canada a stronger country. I’ve fundraised for Make A Wish Foundation and I’m currently volunteering at Vancouver Urban Ministries, which is a Canadian charity that helps the most vulnerable children in immigrant and indigenous families.
Anything you want to say to young Asian-Canadian women?
There’s only one thing I’d like to share to all young women, that is to believe that you can make the impossible possible. It’s never too late to have a dream, you must believe that you can become a better version of yourself. Don’t let the public negatively impact you in any ways, don’t fit yourself into a mold, and ignore how other people look at you. Instead, learn to listen to yourself, focus on what makes you happy, and most importantly, be confident. Confidence is the key that opens every door, and it conquers everything.
After Miss World Canada 2021, what’s your next step? How do people get updates from you (any blog or social media platforms to share?)?
After Miss World Canada 2021, I will continue my trainings and practices to be the better version of myself, as well as supporting and giving back to my community. I will be competing in another national pageant next spring of 2022, so please stay tune for that and follow my journey on my social media. I love speaking with people, therefore if you have any questions or needing some advice, please feel free to send me a message and I’m happy to chat!