TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- This weekend in Las Vegas Julie Kuo (郭瑞筠) became the first woman of Taiwanese descent to compete in the Miss USA pageant, though she fell short of her goal of winning the crown.
Before the competition, Kuo had been predicted by Heavy and Pageant News as one of the likely winners of the 2017 Miss USA pageant, though in the end, she had to settle a top 20 finish out of 51 competitors. She was among five immigrant women vying for the Miss USA crown and seven out of the top ten finalists were also women of color.
Her ensemble for the evening gown competition was picked by The Pageant Planet as Top 10 Preliminary Evening Gowns At Miss USA 2017.
Kuo during evening gown phase of competition. (CNA photo)
Kuo was born in Tainan, but at the age of 10 emigrated to Hawaii with her family. She became valedictorian of her graduating class in high school.
She became eligible to compete in the Miss USA pageant by winning the Miss Hawaii competition in 2016, also a first for a woman of Taiwanese descent, an impressive feat for an event with a history of highly talented competitors, including previous winners such actress Kelly Hu and Miss USA and Miss Universe 1997 winner Brook Lee.
Kuo during swimsuit competition. (CNA photo)
During the talent phase of the Miss USA pageant, Kuo performed the violin, which she has played for over ten years. The ultimate winner of the pageant was also an immigrant, Kara McCullough, who was born in Naples, Italy.
Kuo hopes that her participation in pageants will bring more visibility to Taiwan. She aspires to be a small restaurant owner and serve her favorite Taiwanese foods.
The rival Miss America pageant will also see a first generation Taiwanese participant, Miss Louisiana 2016 Justine Ker (柯時晴).
Miss Louisiana 2016 Justine Ker. (Image from Justine Ker Facebook page)