By Brittany Maroney
Photos by Claudia Johnstone
Laetitia Hua has lived around the globe but her feet are firmly planted on the ground. At age 23, the Miss Scottsdale 2017 winner is fresh out of law school, with aspirations set to take on the world. But don’t let her beauty fool you; she has proven to be a fearless fighter for various human rights and a dedicated champion for a vast array of charities.
Laetitia grew up in the heart of Paris, the only daughter of simple restaurateurs. Despite only knowing her native Mandarin, she thrived in the artistic heart of Europe’s most romantic city. She learned the art of the perfect pastry, an appreciation for culture and found a passion for music.
“I started studying piano in Paris at the age of six, which has led to a 17-year love affair with classical music,” Hua says. “At certain points in life your soul connects to things, and when I hear Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3, the whole world seems to become simplistically perfect.”
Hua lived in Paris until she was eight years old, and then moved to Scottsdale, where she was again faced with an unknown language. Where previously she was celebrated for her bookworm ways, in America she was a rarity.
“I was an awkward teenager and was fascinated by rules, social norms and guidelines,” says Hua, who attended Chaparral High School. “I was that person who meticulously highlighted sections of my school’s code of conduct and read etiquette books. By the time I was in middle school, I had read every book on juvenile law I could find at public libraries.”
Hua didn’t know it at the time but she would soon be introduced to another world beyond the library, one that would take her into the unfamiliar scene of the pageant world.
“I honestly never thought about competing in pageants, but then a friend asked me to try it with her. We were both new to it and had no idea what we were doing. Yet, a few months later I beat out 80 other girls for the title.”
Starting at age 14, her rise through the pageant ranks was not easy or even natural for the braces-wearing adolescent, but with her talent, she shined on stage.
“I remember one phase of that first competition was casual wear, and we were encouraged to wear an outfit with accessories that represented us,” she says. “I modeled on stage with my violin that I had named Brownie. I was up there looking out into the audience, and I felt this connection. I’ve been hooked to pageantry ever since.”
Since then, Hua has gone on to win several pageants, including Miss Scottsdale, and with it, the opportunity to compete for Miss Arizona in June. Still, as a frequent fighter for women’s rights she’s often faced with criticism.
“People still sometimes call it a ‘beauty pageant’ but pageantry has evolved to be much more than physical beauty. The Miss America system, for example, is the largest scholarship provider for women, and they really focus on talent and academic achievement.”
In fact, Hua says her favorite parts of the pageant experience are just that: interview and talent, two areas in which she scores the highest.
“I always enjoy having conversations with the judges during interview, particularly on international trade law and foreign policy.”
Not to be held back, Hua recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Today, Hua is back in Arizona to study for the bar exam.
A Platform for Diversity
In her last year of law school, Hua became particularly fascinated with international law and gender law. Building on her interests in gender issues, she hopes to pursue international human rights law and address human rights violations on a global scale.
In fact, as Miss Scottsdale 2017, Hua’s platform is Celebrating Cultural Diversity through Community Engagement, which is rooted in coming together as a community to honor diversity.
“I’m currently working with the Human Relations Commission to promote diversity. I’ve personally experienced racism and particularly in this politically divisive time, I would like to do everything I can to be a voice of unity in my community.”
Hua also serves as an ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network, helping to raise money for children at local hospitals. And, because she grew up speaking three languages (Mandarin, French and English), Hua is naturally passionate about secondary language development.
“I will be helping to promote the Seal of Bi-literacy, which rewards high school students who attain proficiency in a language beyond English. I think proficiency in multiple languages is so important in today’s globalized world.”
As the first Asian Miss Scottsdale, Hua is also committed to bringing more diversity to the Miss America stage, while creating more overall cultural acceptance worldwide. Her platform rings true to who she is – someone who values the differences among us, yet also acknowledges the humanity that we all share.
Simply and eloquently put, Hua states: “The purpose of my platform is to foster international awareness and empathy, and support cultural and educational opportunities around the community.”
Reach Hua at MissScottsdale2017@gmail.com, and make donations for Children’s Miracle Network at www.missamericaforkids.org/donate/laetitiahua.