Miss California Catherine Liang modeling handpainted gown by Mariya Milovidova can be found here:
Photography by Christopher Otrebla
MUA: Ethel MH Reddy
It was the proud moment watching San Francisco renown photographer Christopher Ortebla photographing newly crowned Miss California Catherine Liang by the Golden Gate Bridge modeling my designs with a long line of tourists standing within close proximity from us. As they were trying to take pictures with our beauty queen. It was an inspiring experience spending sunny afternoon with our amazing team which included, Catherine, her beautiful and supportive mother Lisa, our talented photographer Christopher Ortebla, and wonderful make up artist Ethel MH Reddy. During our photoshoot I got a chance to sit down with Catherine to talk about her amazing journey:
Could you tell us about yourself and how you started in a pageant world.
I grew up in Sonoma County, California as a very shy kid. I always knew that I loved performing but I just needed to find a way to channel and project my voice. I swam competitively, danced ballet and ballroom, and played classical piano…so pageants were a natural way to combine all of those passions into one performance. My parents were actually the ones who encouraged and took me to my very first orientation.
What really gave me the confidence to register was seeing a girl who I had done theater with compete. Seeing someone who I looked up to participate in the Miss Sonoma County’s Outstanding Teen program showed me that a girl like myself could do it!
Share a little bit about your experience as Miss California and how do you think this experience changed your life?
Miss California is an official state branch of the Miss America Organization, the largest scholarship provider for young women pursuing higher education. I always knew that Miss California would be my “last hurrah” in the pageant world. If there is one takeaway from this experience…it is the power of Being a Champion of Courage.
I’m a firm believer that courage behind with being your best self but to be a Champion of Courage is to help others to see what they are capable of! Being Miss California has granted me the opportunity to step out of my own comfort zone while simultaneously enabled me to share my story with people who might relate to my health and fitness journey, the path of finding my voice, or career advice!
What is the difference between modeling in fashion and pageant world?
Modeling is all about learning to morph into the designers vision and how to bring that alive. I’ve been lucky enough to have designers take a chance on someone like myself who hasn’t had too much experience with modeling. But through that I’ve learned the importance of adaptability. Additionally it has shown me that beauty takes shape and form in many different ways.
Pageantry is about almost a contrast to that. You are given a platform, a title, and a year to show your community who you are. People want to get to know the girl behind the crown. What is she passionate about, what does she stand for, what does she do for our community. So it is incredibly empowering!
I do wish more pageant girls had opportunities in the modeling world because it helped me to grow immensely in my confidence.
Share a little bit about your experience in fashion.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with designers that place a heavy emphasis on their cultural heritage. Mariya is an incredible Ukrainian designer and one of my favorite pieces is a powerful yellow suit with blue hand paint led strokes. It was a subtle yet beautiful symbol of Ukrainian culture. I’ve also had the chance to work with the amazing Colleen Quen who is a renowned couture designer. All her prices are inspired by her global cultural influences from her Eastern Spiritual heritage, her American upbringing and French couture education which lead to my International Museum commissions, Ballet costumes and Private Clientele which are exhibited and worn all around the world.
Finally I am honored to be an ambassador to Italian Couture brand like Evaro Italia, Elizeé Shoes, and Benjamin Babadi as well as other LA based designers like Mandalay!
What is next for Catherine Liang?
In December I will be heading to Connecticut to represent California at the Miss America competition. I want to take this next year to serve California as the best possible ambassador I can. More than ever we need someone who is a Champion of Courage and who is willing to have her heels on the ground to serve.
In the future I hope to pursue my masters in business leadership abroad!