By Ellen Lee (AAJA-San Francisco Bay Area), Freelance Writer
Hoang-Kim Cung moved to Grand Island, Nebraska last year to kickstart her broadcast journalism career. There, the NBC Nebraska reporter has anchored the morning, midday and 5 p.m. newscasts, as well as covered the Grand Island mayoral race and a local shooting. In late November, the 23-year-old AAJA member was also crowned Miss Nebraska USA and will compete in the Miss USA pageant next summer.
Cung, who graduated with a broadcast journalism degree from the University of Texas, Austin in 2013, started competing in pageants when she was 14 years old. The fashion lover also started the blog Color & Chic, where she regularly writes about beauty, fashion and pageant life. And Cung, whose parents are from Vietnam, founded the non-profit Legacy Organization of Vietnamese Enrichment (L.O.V.E.), which aids veterans in Vietnam.
What do you make of the stereotypes and criticism of pageants?
Every group has stereotypes and while some pageant contestants fit the stereotype, I believe the heavy majority don’t. Pageants have helped me grow into a bold and determined woman who isn’t afraid of having big aspirations and working hard to make them come to fruition. And pageants have allowed me to give so much of myself to other girls and my community through the numerous charitable organizations I’ve worked with. When I look around at my friends who compete in pageants and myself, I see a woman who is strong, courageous and someone who understands how much hard work can pay off.
Why do you think it’s important to have Asian American representation on air/in the media and in contests such as this one?
Simply reflecting on the overwhelming amount of love and support I’ve received from the Vietnamese and Asian community since winning Miss Nebraska USA, and still get on a daily basis, makes it clear how important it truly is. Growing up, I didn’t have very many role models who were Asian to look up to and it never stopped me, but I would love to change that for other young girls. When other Vietnamese girls message me saying how they are so proud another Vietnamese girl won and it inspires them to compete, it warms my heart and shows how crucial [it is that] we have more Asian American representation in media and in pageants.
What’s your favorite karaoke song?
I don’t go to karaoke actually! I’ve never really had time.
What do you hope to accomplish as a journalist?
My family came to America from Communist Vietnam seeking freedom, democracy, justice and human rights. In Vietnam there isn’t freedom of speech, religion or press. I want to be able to share the stories of those who hardly ever get coverage, give the ordinary people a voice and of course, spark change.
Any AAJA members you want to give a shoutout to?
Mega Sugianto because she told y’all about me winning. And she’s a pretty cool producer.
Hoang-Kim Cung can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Headshot photographed by Fadil Berisha. Featured image courtesy of Laurel Austin Studios.