Named one of the best known ethnic pageants in the world, the Miss Los Angeles Chinatown pageant judges its contestants on their beauty, character, ability to answer questions concerning society, and their portrayal of Chinese women living in America. Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown dives deeply into the personal lives of two young women competing in the Miss Los Angeles Chinatown pageant as well as a Miss Chinatown “imposter”. While the pageant insists that it celebrates old Chinese traditions and embraces the modern Chinese woman, this is not necessarily the case in the lives of Celeste, Priscilla, and Kristina.
Although the film documents the pageant experience, it takes a more intimate turn into the much more difficult obstacles of self-acceptance, family traditions, and a lost identity. The film follows Celeste as she battles with the troubles of being both Chinese and Caucasian while never being fully accepted by either culture. Priscilla struggles through her father’s very strict and traditional Chinese views while living in a very modern world. Kristina, believing that she will never be cut out to be the picture-perfect Miss Chinatown, lives a life of performance (even portraying the character of an over-the-top, awkward Miss Chinatown) in an effort to hide her self esteem issues.
What begins as a mere pageant documentary turns into a very intimate look into the lives of Chinese women dealing with the pressures of their society. The film takes us behind the scenes of not only the pageant, but also of a girl competing simply to feel more Chinese, a family refusing to accept a daughters marriage because of the husbands race, and the pressure thrust upon Chinese women to be beautiful. The film gives audiences a more honest look into the modern Chinese woman- more honest than any pageant alone could have achieved.
“Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown” by Daisy Lin premiered at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival and won the Fox Studio Diversity Award at the Downtown Film Fest LA. You can watch the entire documentary here.