Thao Nhi – Vietnam’s Universe runner-up – said she was afraid of being misunderstood as a “rich kid” because she had a difficult childhood and worked as a waiter.
On the morning of June 30, the top 3 Miss Universe Vietnam 2022 had an exchange at VnExpress newspaper office. Le Thao Nhi – 1st runner-up (born in 1994) – talked about her feelings after winning the award and the support of the audience and boyfriend during the competition.
– How have you received the joy of being a runner-up these past few days?
– The morning after the finale, when I opened my eyes, I felt that my life had completely changed. Wearing a crown, leaving the hotel, I heard a large number of fans standing around, shouting my name, asking for autographs. Even though I come from an influencer (social media influencers), the feeling of being famous still overwhelms me. Never in my life have I thought of being a runner-up.
I read every message sent by fans on social media platforms, from Facebook to Instagram. Many videos record fans crying when my name is chanted, regretting the moment of announcing Miss. Some fans said that they will always love me whether I win or not. At that moment, I understood that love is bigger than any crown.
– What do you think you lack to be crowned?
– The jury has their own reasons to choose the most deserving person. For my part, I guess it could be because my Vietnamese is not good – because I grew up in a foreign country. In contrast, my English skills are more fluent than most candidates. Many comments on social networks say that my height of 1.68 m is a big obstacle, but I do not think that is the cause. Standing next to other beauties, I am still confident even though I am shorter than you or not too young.
To me, Ngoc Chau completely deserves to win the contest. What I admire most about Chau is always keeping a gentle, calm attitude, I am the opposite – it is very difficult to control emotions. The beauty I regret the most is Do Nhat Ha – a contestant who is very close to me. The moment I announced the top 16, I was quite sad when Do Nhat Ha was not named.
– How do you feel when many people call you “rich kid” runner-up?
– The nickname “rich kid” comes from my travels, taking Instagram check-in photos in some extravagant-looking locations around the world. I insist that I am not the son of a rich family. I hope to understand the word “rich” figuratively, meaning that I am rich in love, honesty, empathy. I am afraid of being misunderstood as “rich kid” in the sense of material passion.
I believe I have many other riches, not just property or money. Back to Vietnam, I like to ride motorbike taxis and wear slippers. I often eat at home with my grandmother, not at restaurant parties. That’s the real me, not the luxurious image on social networks. I also have to try to rise up with work like many other girls, going through many hard days to get where I am today.
– What do you remember about those difficult days?
– When I first moved to Germany, my family was often penniless. My parents struggled day by day to build a career, earn money to support my sisters. At that time, my mother worked at a sewing factory, taking advantage of the surplus fabric to come home to make clothes for us. Thanks to savings and free tuition in Germany, my family gradually got out of the difficult situation.
When I was 15 years old, I worked as a waiter to help my parents raise two young children and nurture my passion for fashion. I remember the first salary I received was 5 euros for an hour of work. A full day of 12-hour work is only about 60 euros, too meager compared to the standard of living in Europe. Accumulating gradually, I bought the first dresses, then took pictures, went to work as an influencer. During the day, I go to university, at night I go to work to earn money to start a business.
After 10 years, I also launched my own fashion brand. At first, I sold lingerie models, then gradually opened up other clothes. Currently, I have two stores in Ho Chi Minh City and do online business in the international market, mainly customers are the US, Australia and Vietnam. When I told that story in an interview with the Miss Universe jury, model Vo Hoang Yen cried, perhaps because she felt sympathy for me.
– Besides family, how does your boyfriend – businessman Bao Long – support you in the contest?
– In the final, he was also present. When I won, he just hugged me and said “Congratulations”. He is the type of person who talks less, does more. For three months, I put all my energy into the competition, he mainly supported me mentally, taking care of my loved ones on my behalf.
We’ve been together for almost three years. Both he and I are passionate about business, always enthusiastic in our work, so we inspire each other. He made me feel safe and secure when he was around. I am rich in energy, so life is always exciting and “fire”, he is gentle and calm. Thanks to that, he helps me to be more balanced. I haven’t dared to talk much about my love story, just “go with the flow”. I will not be married for at least two years of my term.
– What kind of man would make you want to stick around for a long time?
– I always set the criteria that the person must be talented and hardworking. They may not be too rich, but they must be good, confident and brave, making me feel respected and want to learn.
– After the contest, a set of photos she took nude was re-posted, creating controversy. What do you say?
– That set of photos I made on the occasion of March 8 – International Women’s Day, is not just a nude photo shoot, but also wants to honor feminine beauty. I asked some art directors (creative directors) to advise on how to shoot, shield, and choose angles to avoid creating objections. I simply want to inspire positivity.
When working on the project, I expected to cause controversy with a part of the audience. Currently being the runner-up, I keep a confident, modern image but will be more restrained in terms of sexiness. I will also gradually prepare for Miss Universe 2023, learn how to master the stage, catwalk, better grasp the rhythm of music. I found that, no matter what you do, whatever position you are in, you need to enjoy everything, create positive energy instead of putting pressure on yourself.