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“From nanny to Miss Universe contestant: Miss Vietnam’s inspiring story”

Miss Vietnam: ‘I did not want to live a life where I had to marry early like many other kids had in my village.’

Newly crowned Miss Universe Catriona Gray was not the only scene-stealer during the coronation night of the pageant held in Thailand on Monday, December 17. Miss Vietnam H’Hen Niê’s also made a mark not only because of her beautiful performance but also because of her inspiring story. 

H’Hen is the first woman who came from a minority group in Vietnam who represented her country in the Miss Universe pageant. Her ethnic group only makes up 5% of her country’s total population.  

At 14 years old, she was asked by her parents to get married, a tradition that her group practices. But instead of marrying early, she decided to pursue her dreams and decided to live in the city of Saigon.  

“I stated I could not possibly get a husband at that point in time because I had to follow my dreams. I did not want to live a life where I had to marry early like many other kids had in my village,” she said in her VTR.  

During the pageant, it was revealed that Miss Vietnam worked as a nanny, serving food and cleaning houses, in order to finance her schooling. In 2014, she joined the world of modeling. She became a 9th placer in Vietnam’s Next Top Model in 2015. Afterwards, she worked on becoming a beauty queen, which lead her to become Miss Vietnam in 2018 and became part of the Miss Universe pageant in Thailand.  

H’Hen became part of the top 5 of the Miss Universe this year. In an Instagram post, she extended her congratulatory message for Catriona and thanked Thailand for her wonderful Miss Universe pageant experience. 

“Congratulations @catriona_gray and Philippines. Thank you so much Miss Universe Organization, Miss Universe Team @missuniverse @chihaircare and I am also thankful to Thailand @missuniverse.in.th , the country of love. Special thank my family, my team Unicorp and all my fans that always support me,” she posted.