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Two words of pure pressure: Miss Universe

By Tiffany Tan  (China Daily)

13:31, October 30, 2012

Xu Jidan, who was crowned Miss Universe China in Shanghai in September, prepares for the competition in Las Vegas that will name a new Miss Universe on Dec 19. (China Daily / Zou Hong)

Faced with the task of parading in a bikini and high heels before millions of TV viewers, and giving a smart answer within seconds in the Q&A, guess what worries Miss China the most about competing in the Miss Universe pageant? Being able to interact with the other contestants in English.

"We will stay three weeks with other girls and have a lot of events, a lot of charity. We need to talk, we need to socialize," the statuesque 22-year-old Xu Jidan says in halting English.

"Miss Universe is not just about good looks, being a Barbie. You should talk, you should show your heart," she says, adding in Chinese that she fears being misunderstood and mistaken as impolite.

Xu has been training hard for the competition in Las Vegas, which will crown a new Miss Universe on Dec 19. Since winning the China title in Shanghai last month, the model's days have been filled with lessons in stage presentation, public speaking, human psychology, etiquette, makeup and, of course, English.

She meets with an American tutor, reads English newspapers and watches Hollywood movies (her favorite exercise).

"From when I wake up, I will speak English," says Xu, who hails from Liaoyuan, Jilin province, and holds a bachelor's degree in fashion design and a master's in luxury product management.

Wu Lili, public relations manager of the Miss Universe China organization, says: "Even the work staff like us talk to her in English." They prefer to call her by her English name, Diana.

Then there are the travels abroad to expose her to the limelight and broaden her horizons. In September, Xu attended the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix, along with a dozen other Miss Universe contestants. Earlier this month, she walked the red carpet at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

"Seriously, getting the crown is not about how much she has been trained," Yue-sai Kan, national director of Miss Universe China, says in an exclusive China Daily interview she gave with Xu in Beijing. "A lot depends on how she performs that night onstage. There are things we cannot control."

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