"I’m a beauty and fashion geek who loves to tell stories. I’m passionate about original reporting and aspire to be a morning news anchor for a national news network. As the daughter of political refugees from Vietnam, I take pride in my charity that raises money for Vietnam War Veterans living in extremely impoverished areas of Vietnam. At the end of the day, I like to curl up with a hot cup of tea and discover new literary authors. " Hoang-Kim Cung
Tiffany: How did you get involved in National American Miss?
Kim: Nearly eight years ago, I received a flyer in the mail for National American Miss. At the time, I was a competitive figure skater skating nearly four to five hours a day with the addition of one-hour workouts. When I received the flyer, I was nursing a torn meniscus in my knee. I couldn’t skate… I wasn’t even allowed to work out or do any off-ice training. My Mom and I talked about doing the pageant for a different experience, gaining a new perspective and making new friends since I was home-schooled. Little did I know that flyer would take me on an incredible journey.
Tiffany: How did you prepare for the National Pageant?
Kim: I’ve been to Nationals three times before, twice as a city queen and once as a state queen, and each time gave me a different perspective. Between my last year as a teen contestant in 2010 and my trip back to Nationals this year 2012, I competed in other pageants and like every contestant, wanted to win the respective title. But along this journey that started when I was only 14 years old, and especially in this year, I have gained clarity. I went into Nationals with a greater sense of confidence in who I am and what I was capable of achieving. I knew whoever the judges awarded with the National crown would be an extremely outstanding young lady and whether that was me or not, I knew it was the right path.
Tiffany: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Kim:Growing up as a competitive figure skater, Sasha Cohen was a huge role model to me. I remember getting to meet her once and asked her if she had any advice for me, what it would be. She told me about her 1/3 principle. In a competition, you can only control 1/3 of what happens – you. The only thing you can control is how you skate. You can’t control the judges’ opinion of you and you can’t control how the other girls skate. There is no point in worrying or stressing over what you cannot control. I’ve applied this to not only figure skating, but every aspect of my life and it’s helped me be cognizant of what I am truly capable of achieving when I stop worrying about others.
Tiffany:What do you like to do for fun?
Kim: I believe fashion is the most powerful art there is. It’s movement, design, and architecture all in one and it can show the world who we are. For fun, I like to create different wardrobe pairings and post the lookbook photos on my blog: www.ColorandChic.com
Tiffany: What is one item you can’t live without?
Kim: My iPhone! Without my phone I can’t stay connected to all the girls and people who support me around the world on social media. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @HKCung, Instagram at @HKCung, and Facebook at www.facebook.com/HoangKimCung. In addition to using my phone to be in the loop, being able to take and record HD photo and video has been extremely helpful as a reporter. There have been times where my camera’s battery died and I’ve used my phone to record interviews. My phone is a lifesaver!
Tiffany: Who is your role model?
Kim: My Mom is an immaculate example of a strong and independent woman. She immigrated to America with my Dad and two older siblings. They only had a few sets of clothes and barely any money when they stepped foot in America. Through adversity, my Mom went to school and earned two Masters’ degrees in Counseling and Psychology while raising three children, sending money home to her family in Vietnam, and working as a tailor at high-end hotels. She’s in nearly every memory of mine from watching the news to taking me skating as I got older. When things get hard for me, I put myself in my Mom’s shoes and I know I can push through and be successful.
Tiffany: What is your favorite TV show?
Kim: My one guilty pleasure is Gossip Girl. I never read the books, but when the show launched in 2007, I fell in love with the incredible fashion on the show. While the plots and lives of Manhattan’s elite is interesting, I could watch the show on mute and still be entertained. While some believe Gossip Girl can be scandalous, I believe the show deals with a lot of issues prominent today’s society: the American dream and finding the perfect balance between love, business, money, and success.
Tiffany: What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you?
Kim: I’m very petite and it can be very difficult to find clothes that fit me properly with minimal alterations and more recently, I’ve discovered the kids’ section of J.Crew. One day my Mom and I were in CrewCuts buying some cropped pants and sweaters when a lady approached us at the checkout counter. She was marveling about my cat-eye winged eyeliner and asking my Mom why she decided to let me wear makeup at 12-years-old… little did she know I was 21! My Mom and I went along with it, not wanting to embarrass her, but when we left the store with our bags we couldn’t stop laughing.
Tiffany: If you had three wishes what would you wish for?
Kim: Being a very passionate human rights activist, I wish all oppression, corruption, sex trafficking, and forms of torture, including concentration camps, would cease to exist. It’s hard to believe in this day and age, torture chambers, concentration camps, and sex trafficking still exist, but they do because we let them. As human beings, we should not let others be treated any less than what we’d like to be treated.
My second wish is to become a billionaire, so I can help entrepreneurs with their new ventures. My brother is looking to start his own venture in the medical industry and I wish I had the money to back him. There are so many innovative and creative ideas out there to solve problems and disrupt earlier forms of industries. I wish I could lay a hand in helping them create the future. Not to mention if I was a billionaire, I wouldn’t have any college loans to pay off.
My final wish would be to have my own network. While being a morning news anchor is a big dream of mine, the power a network provides is immense and I plan to use that power to help change the world with original reporting, philanthropy, everyday tips, and more.
Tiffany If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
Kim: I’ve always had a big soft spot for Italy, particularly for its rich culture and heritage, but lately, I want to travel to some more “unknown” places in the world. I’ve seen so many beautiful places on tumblr and pinterest like the Moses Bridge in the Netherlands, Isle of Skye in Scotland, Santiago Island in the Galapagos, Waterfalls of Gods in Iceland and many, many more!
Tiffany: What is your definition of a NAM girl?
Kim: A NAM girl is a girl who perseveres. She sets her goals high and is willing to put in the hard work, and sometimes fail, to achieve it in the end. She doesn’t give up on the first, third, or tenth try. She perseveres for her dreams because she knows they are worth it.
Tiffany: If you could be on the cover of any Magazine what would it be?
Kim: Vanity Fair without a doubt! Vanity Fair covers everything from global affairs to entertainment, business to fashion, and society to crime. As a journalist who is always curious and a fashion addict, I couldn’t imagine a better magazine that covers nearly every aspect of who I am with quality reporting.
Tiffany: If you were stranded on a deserted island what three things could you not live without?
Kim:Food and water would be nice, but I wouldn’t mind learning how to use a crossbow to hunt for my own food. Secondly, a massive book collection consisting of Jane Austen, Tolstoy, and Paulo Coelho would help me pass the time. Lastly, I would need chopsticks to cook and eat my food with.
Tiffany: What is your most prized possession?
Kim: My music collection is very special to me. It has huge variety – from the Andrea Bocelli songs I love to listen to with my Dad to The Black Keys album I got from my internship with CBS News in New York.
Tiffany: How would your friends describe you?
Kim: I’m a very compassionate person, but a geek at heart. They would tell you how I always think about other people and how I can help them. In addition, they’ll probably tell you about how driven I am in my goals and how much of a hard worker I am.
Tiffany: How are you making a difference in your community?
Kim: In addition to working on my charity that raises money for Vietnam Veterans’ families overseas in Vietnam, I’m very involved in my local community, whether it’s Austin or Plano. In the Plano and Dallas area I work with a group I founded called Saturday Ocean to promote maintaining your heritage, culture, and roots as you grow up in America. In Austin, I work with The Project, UT’s largest day of service to assist a local Austin community in need.
Tiffany:What is your favorite childhood memory?
Kim: My most vivid memories come from figure skating. My Mom and Dad would always take me to the ice rink together and competitions were a family project. The first year I qualified to be in the Dallas Galleria’s Annual Ice Show, my whole family came and we must have taken more than a hundred photos. It was a wonderful Christmas.
Tiffany: If you could go back in time and be at any historical event what would it be?
Kim: It would be incredible to witness the war between England and Spain and the choices Queen Elizabeth made up to the victorious outcome. She had hard choices to make, but she made the ones she believed would be best for her country.
Tiffany: If you could be famous for something, what would you want to be famous for?Kim: I have always dreamed of being a famous news anchor who is known not only for her on-air presence and work, but her philanthropy as well. From a young age, I’ve been very passionate about human rights, especially in Vietnam, and with my charity I will be able to continue working and promoting human rights as my career progresses.
Tiffany: What is your favorite book?
Kim: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is definitely my all-time favorite. Coelho tells the story about how a young shepherd who travels from his home in Spain to Egypt to find treasure. I adore this book because like very few books in today’s era, it teaches us about how essential it is to listen to our hearts, be aware of the bad that will be tossed into our path, and to always, always follow our dreams because once we truly want something, the whole universe will conspire with us to make it happen.
Tiffany: Where is your favorite place to shop?
Kim: As a fashion blogger, I don’t have one “favorite” place to shop, but I use a variety of places to create a unique look. You might be surprised to learn some of my designer pieces were scored off eBay and consignment stores. I love to incorporate color into my wardrobe, so stores like J.Crew, Ann Taylor, and Kate Spade help me keep my colorful personality while still looking professional in the newsroom.
Tiffany: Who is the most influential person in the world now?
Kim: While I’m not majoring in business or looking to get a business degree in the near future, Sheryl Sandberg, to me, is one of the most influential people in the world. As the Chief Operating Officer of the multi-million dollar public company Facebook, she is helping people make the most of a now very transparent world through connections with different individuals, organizations, and causes. She’s proving women can hold important positions of power in the technology industry, while still being a mother of two – the most important connection of all.
Tiffany: Who or what inspires you most?
Kim: I’ve dreamed of being a news anchor for quite some time now and this past summer I had the privilege of interning at CBS News in New York City. I got the opportunity to sit in the evening news anchor’s chair – the same one Scott Pelley sits in every weekday night as he gives the top headlines. After getting to sit in that chair and see the cameras and lights around me, I’ve never been more inspired to make that moment a reality.
Tiffany: What have you learned about yourself since competing in pageants?
Kim: Being in pageants have showed me how much power someone can really have and how one person can make a difference. Through pageants, I have been able to change the lives of many Vietnam Veteran families living in extremely impoverished areas of Vietnam. I recently received a letter from a veteran who had to go door to door and beg for food for daily survival. Since receiving money from me, he’s been able to start a small side business of selling SIM cards in Vietnam and he’s made a profit of $20. He explained to me, this $20 of profit has changed his life because now he has the confidence to walk around with his head held high because he no longer has to beg for food. It’s wonderful to me to see how here, $20 for me is a day’s lunch money, but for him, it has truly changed his life.
Tiffany: What is your definition of success?
Kim: I was in a class this Fall called “Greed is Good” and we heavily discussed what success is and how it relates to the American Dream. We were presented with many different works of art portraying what success could be and we all came to the conclusion that money and fame without happiness or contentment is not success. Success is when you’ve set a goal, reached it, and have someone to share it with. Success is when you can enjoy the fruits of your labor with the ones you love – for example, success is not simply millions in the bank, success is sharing and enjoying the result of your success with others.
Tiffany: What advice do you have for future NAM girls?
Kim: Discover who you are and don’t be anyone else. NAM is about Today’s Girl and along my journey with National American Miss, there have been days where I’ve doubted if a girl like me, a Vietnamese American, could represent National American Miss. But as I grew older and more confident in who I am and what I am capable of achieving, I realized the value in who I am, my ability to connect to more individuals, my perspective, and what I’ve achieved, is what makes me great and would make a difference in the world.
Tiffany: What things do you hope to accomplish during your year of service?
Kim: One of my bigger goals is to host a charity concert to raise money for Vietnam Veterans’ forgotten children living in extremely impoverished areas of Vietnam. I already launched my first one last August and was met with wonderful success. I can’t wait to have another one and change more lives for the better. In addition to my philanthropy work, I will be continuing with my Video Blog series to update my supporters on what I’ve done and what I will be doing, working with nonprofits including Queen For A Day, Minnie’s Food Pantry and many more, in addition to traveling to as many state pageants as I can when summer arrives. I’ll be super busy, so please don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I hope to see you in your home state!
Tiffany: What would you like to be doing 10 years from now?
Kim: There is nothing more I would like than to be waking up at 2 a.m., then being in the morning news anchor chair for a national news network around seven or eight to give you the day’s top headlines. I hope millions of Americans will be waking up and having their coffee or tea with me as I tell them the morning’s important stories.
Tiffany: If someone could live your life for a week, what would they find most interesting?Kim: Definitely the Vietnamese language. I’m very fluent in Vietnamese, I can read, write, and speak in not only colloquial, but formal Vietnamese – something that’s rare for someone my age who was born in the states. I’m extremely passionate about keeping in touch with my roots, so I try to speak Vietnamese whenever I can. That means when I’m at home cooking traditional foods with my Mom, driving in the car with my Dad, shopping with my older sister, simply discussing life’s pertinent questions with my brother, or even when I’m eating out with my friends or boyfriend. Language is easily lost when its not used and I never want to lose my talent of speaking Vietnamese.
Tiffany: What is the best compliment you have ever received?
Kim : Ever since we started dating, my boyfriend has always told me one thing, “You are the most powerful woman I know.” After years of dating, I’ve learned he tells I’m powerful because of my philanthropy work for Vietnam Veterans and in my local community, my drive and hard work ethic to make my dreams of being a national morning news anchor come true, and how compassionate I am when it comes to family. Many people have told me I’m beautiful, but being told I’m powerful is inspiring
Tiffany: What are your plans for the future?
Kim: This upcoming spring will be my final semester as an undergraduate. I will be graduating from the University of Texas where I’m majoring in broadcast journalism. My passion for journalism started when I was a child and watched the morning and evening news with my parent. So after graduation, I plan on being a local reporter. My ultimate goal is to be a morning news anchor for a national news network.
Tiffany: What activities are you involved in?
Kim: Journalism is a big passion of mine. On campus, I’m involved in Texas Student Television, the nation’s only student-run FCC-Licensed channel. I work for Good Morning TX as an anchor, reporter, and social media producer. Outside the newsroom, I volunteer my time with my charity, planning the next fundraising concert to raise money for Vietnam Veterans’ families living in extremely impoverished areas of Communist Vietnam. I also volunteer with Queen For A Day, The Project– UT’s largest day of service, and more.
Tiffany: What is the biggest misconception about your generation?
Kim: It isn’t uncommon for adults to think we are wasting our lives away on the Internet using Facebook, twitter, etc., but these social media websites are helping my generation create important networks for our future, learn to present ourselves in a professional manner, and discover how to develop a loyal following or even get in contact with people outside of our usual social bubble. Facebook and twitter are extremely powerful tools and employers today are seeking young people who know how to harness the power these social networks have to drive their business. The Internet and the start-up world are creating millions of new jobs for my generation and my generation is creating our own jobs within these spheres. YouTube and blogs are a perfect example of this. Many young people have stepped into the entrepreneurial path by creating a career out of YouTube and the loyal following they’ve developed. The Internet is the future and I believe if my generation learns to use it properly, it will lead to a world of possibilities.
Hoang-Kim Cung The 2012-2013 National American Miss!