23rd Annual Miss Asian America Pageant

Queen Louisa Liu


Louisa Liu, 2008-2009 Queen

Queen & Court

  • Louisa Liu, Miss Asian America & Miss Talent
  • Mary Saleh, 1st Princess & Miss Asian California
  • Nina Kasuga, 2nd Princess
  • Stephanie Karlik, 3rd Princess
  • Lisa Ma, Miss Asian San Francisco
  • Chelsea Kuo, Miss Congeniality
  • Shan Yu, Miss Scholastic Achievement
  • Stephanie Wong, Miss Community Service
  • Veronica Sartori, Miss Photogenic

About the Reign

Press Release For Immediate Release

Contact: Rose Chung (415) 308-6132

Cal Student Crowned Miss Asian America

SAN FRANCISCO — In the absence of celebrations such as a quincea-ñera or bat mitzvah, the Miss Asian America pageant marks the coming of age of Asian American women with a distinctly American tradition. For the 23 contestants of this year’s pageant, it was an exercise in confidence to hold up their accomplishments and poise to a critical gaze.

Louisa Liu, the 21-year-old UC Berkeley psychology student who won the crown, said the experience taught the contestants “how to handle things, socialize, network, the rules of etiquette, how to present yourself to others and help each other out even when you’re emotionally strained.”

Contestant Amanda Igaki of Loveland, Colo., said the high point was meeting other ambitious young Asian American women. “We’ve bonded very well,” Igaki said before the pageant. “We’re all Asian, and we have had a lack of role models in our lives. This title means that I could provide a role model for young Asians, something I never had.”

In its twenty-third year, the pageant pulled out all the stops to create a night of glamour and lively performances at the Palace of Fine Arts. Representing traditions from Hawai‘i to Afghanistan, the young women competed in the ethnic costume, swimsuit, talent, evening gown, platform and random-question categories.

First Runner-Up was Mary Saleh, a 20-year-old of Afghan, Turkish and Persian descent from Cupertino. Second Princess was Nina Kasuga, 20, of Gilbert, Ariz., and Stephanie Karlik, 24, of Las Vegas was named third princess.


A veteran of the Miss Chinatown USA, Miss Chinese Cosmo and Miss Teen Chinatown pageants, Liu was ready for anything — even when her knee popped during her performance to a song from the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

“I felt that just being able to persist through, I had won already,” said Liu, whose persistence paid off with the Miss Talent crown as well.

Liu, with a svelte figure, long, jet-black hair and a fine, wide smile, displayed a distinct calm beside more nervous competitors. “I am pretty confident in myself and my experiences,” she said.

But she admits that the contest is subjective, citing the one-on-one interviews with judges the previous night. “It’s like when you meet somebody, you know whether you like them or not,” Liu said.

That philosophy extends to the competition. “Most girls are easy to get along with if you don’t let the little things get to you,” said Liu, who is from Sunnyvale. “You try to cooperate, but there are some who will still kind of reject you.”

Armed with her new title, Liu plans to pursue acting in China, although she acknowledged it will be difficult. “It is highly populated, and they have very talented young women,” she said. “But I believe that I can gain recognition because I have this title.”

As the final contestant to face the judges, Liu’s winning moment may have been her answer to this question: “Who is the wisest person you know?” Liu replied that her mother’s sacrifices for her family exhibited wisdom as silence fell over the audience. “I wanted to express my love for her because usually at home I don’t say much,” she said, shifting from a theater voice to an inside voice. “We’re kind of on the down-low side.”


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Miss Asian America Pageant participates in community events

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Pageant Night

August 23, 2008
San Francisco, CA

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View poster and find out more about the contestants

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Program Book

Flip through this collector’s item with pageant history

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Legacy Page