Catching Up with Miss Taiwan World 2008

What does a pageant winner do after the curtains close? I had the lucky opportunity to sit down with Christine Dai, the winner of the Miss Taiwan World Pageant 2008, and ask her about life after the crown. We covered everything from her parents to what motivates her at the gym everyday (steak!).

How did you hear about the Miss Taiwan World Pageant?

I first heard about it when I volunteered in a Los Angeles River clean up. Volunteering has always been a big part of my life. People there encouraged me to run for the title. My parents didn’t even know about it until after I won! You know those Chinese newspapers in L.A.? They all had my picture on it, and I remember running around trying to collect them all so my parents wouldn’t see them. But they found out eventually.

Was that your first pageant experience?

No, I also was a runner-up for the Miss Teenage California Scholarship Pageant before. My parents didn’t know about that one, either.

I know a lot of pageant participants model as well. Have you?

Yes, I’ve done jeans before, and I did a lot of cosmetics. At first my parents didn’t know about it. But then, because I was a minor, they had to know, and so my mom went in. My dad did not know. They were not okay with it, but I was very headstrong, and I just said, “I’m doing this. I just have to get this out of my system, so sign here.”

You’ve got guts to do all these things without asking your parents first. How do you do it?

Like I said, I was very headstrong as a kid!

According to the pageant website, they no longer have a talent portion, but when you participated in 2008, they still did, right?From what I hear the pageant has changed drastically. I played the piano and the harp for the talent portion. The harp is an instrument with an extremely high learning curve. I'm a bit of a masochist when it comes to perfection, and I'm not happy until something is absolutely perfect; it’s an awful trait my father has instilled in me. I practiced about four to five hours a day until my fingers were bloody and calloused. Then I bandaged them and continued.

Do you have any advice for other girls who might want to apply for similar pageants?

Doing pageants takes a lot of self-motivation and guts. Standing up there answering questions as to why the crown should be given to you over any other girl who is equally qualified is nerve-wracking. Think of it as a growing experience; there are ups and downs, but the best part of the entire process was meeting amazing girls. I still keep in touch with them today.

Not to be rude, but you’re super skinny! How often do you work out?

I go to the gym once a day. I work out to eat. Normally, I watch the Food channel. That’s what motivates me when on the elliptical and on the treadmill. I’m like, “Aw, steak—I’m gonna eat five of you later.”

So that’s your secret—working out once a day. I have to get into that habit. Do you watch TV?

I watch “Modern Family;” “How I Met Your Mother.” I’m also really embarrassed that I watch “Gossip Girl,” too. I don’t tell anyone at school that I watch “Gossip Girl.” A lot of guys watch it, but they just never admit it. I also love “Nikita.” Maggie Q is gorgeous, with a killer, killer body.

She only does yoga, apparently.

Does she really? We have to figure out what kind of yoga she does. Jump on that. I don’t think I could ever be as skinny as her. With the way I eat, there’s no way.

You have a lot of varied talents—from volunteer work to research at Harvard to fashion shows. Do you have any specific career goals?

I'd like to say I want to follow in my family's footsteps—go the Ph. D route, and that's what they probably wanted for me. Right now, I'm a teaching fellow, and teaching is fun, but it’s not challenging. What I'm really excited about is the mercurial nature of markets and what drives them. Over the summer I'll be working in institutional equities in Hong Kong before coming back to Boston in the fall.

Note: Responses were edited for clarity.