Arianna Quan was born in Beijing, China, and moved to Metro Detroit when she was 6 years old. She became a naturalized citizen at 14 and is currently studying Transportation Design at Detroit's College for Creative Studies and hopes to become a designer for the automotive industry in the future.
In June 2016, she got crowned, made history, and got a lot of media attention both at home and abroad—but not all of it was positive-especially the criticism pouring in from Chinese netizens.
Some even went as far as calling her ugly, old, masculine and un-Chinese.
But the 23-year-old trailblazer is not just taking it in her stride, but is very cool about it as well.
“A lot of people have reached out to me, both extremely negatively and positively,” says Quan. “It’s been a very polarizing response. It’s been really interesting to see the discussions that have been erupting from just me being crowned, and it’s been an extremely humbling experience to be a part of those conversations.”
“All this negativity came out, especially about my appearance and how I’m apparently unfit to represent the Chinese population because I’m ‘ugly,’ ” she adds.
This isn't the first time a contestant has faced such racist reactions.
In 2014, when Nina Davuluri was crowned as the first Indian American winner of the contest she also "failed" to please a lot of people who bombarded the social media with racist comments.
Quan sees all this criticism in a very positive light.
“I see it as a part of my job as a state title-holder and potential Miss America,” she believes. “My goal is to just drive the conversation in an important direction, because there are so many things we have to discuss about immigration and diversity in this country right now.”
“[Winning] would mean being able to represent a population of people in this country that are underrepresented right now: the immigrant population, the first-generation American population, Asian-Americans,” she says. “I think it would mean exponentially more to them than it would to me.”
She is not only a great believer in diversity; she also follows her words with actions.
In her first appearance as Miss Michigan, she helped Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder welcome a group of Chinese business officials to Detroit.
She also spends time interacting with the Asian-American community, encouraging people to vote.
She has a lot of support as well:
Hope Arianna Quan wins Miss America.— Hayden (@ProudMoolie) September 8, 2016
The preliminary competition is September 6, 7 and 8. The final night of competition will be a live televised event on ABC, September 11, 2016 at 9:00 pm ET.