Before Oprah Winfrey became a mega-star, she was Miss Fire Prevention 1971 and Miss Black Tennessee 1972. You knew that, right?
Of the top 10 pageant girls who’ve changed the world, the only memorable ones are Halle Berry, Diane Sawyer, Vanessa Williams, and Oprah.
Being a beauty queen is a substantial platform from which to say something, but most don’t have anything substantial to say.
The short documentary “The Crown,” directed by Kacey Cox, is about a pageant winner with the most substantial message in the history of beauty queens.
Anastasia Lin: Miss World Canada
As Anastasia Lin tells it, “At first, there was glowing news in China, that a Chinese-Canadian girl from Hunan Province was just crowned Miss World Canada.”
Lin’s dad was proud; he posted pics on WeChat (like a Chinese Facebook) and gushed about his daughter being on her way to achieving her dreams. TV stations and newspapers wanted to interview him.
Lin herself had thought it would be a long shot, going up against an array of beautiful, experienced contestants. Nevertheless, the glittering tiara descended upon her.
She hadn’t counted on the weight of it. It suddenly felt like a giant, proverbial millstone around her neck. Reality kicked in: She knew she had a message that would stun the world, and it was her duty to speak up.
Message Blocked in China
Then, all of a sudden, the media circus came to an abrupt halt. The news reports about her in China disappeared; her name was changed in Chinese media reports. Lin had delivered a much-needed gut-punch to the Chinese Communist Party—front snap-kicked them where the sun don’t shine.
And where doesn’t the sun shine in China? Lots of places—just check out Chris Chappell’s popular YouTube show “China Uncensored” for a comedic unveiling of China’s secrets, by an American with insider info from Chinese connections. It’s a hilarious public airing of Chinese regime’s very dirty laundry for all the world to see.
However, the most heinous of China’s kept-in-the-dark secrets is its illegal, black-market live organ harvesting from China’s millions of prisoners of conscience—and most extensively among those millions, the practitioners of the peaceful spiritual practice, Falun Gong.
As Lin says, “What a person believes is their most essential part, and if a government takes away your right to believe. … I feel like it’s an assault on humanity.” And so the petite Lin went on the warpath, returning the CCP’s assault with a verbal one of her own, talking a blue streak about the bloody red CCP and showing why the red symbolism of communism stands for the blood of millions executed worldwide—and in particular, the victims of China’s gruesome organ harvesting campaign.
How Her Mission Grew
Growing up in China, Lin started her mission young. She was a popular girl, a little force of nature, and a “model student” who enforced ideological conformity, insisting fellow classmates watch propaganda films about the so-called “enemies of the government.”
It was only after she moved to Canada that she was able to sense the scope of her Party indoctrination. She started to do her own research and discovered increasingly uglier truths. The stories of the victims of the CCP’s persecution shocked her profoundly.
Blocked From Competing in China
The 2015 Miss World Competition was slated to be held in China. Lin thought they’d have to let her into the country, regardless of her having spoken up; otherwise, it would be a giant admission of guilt. Take a wild guess what happened.
Her father sent her a letter telling her to stop talking to the press, or else they’d have to go their separate ways. That didn’t sound like him. Sure enough, a Chinese security agent had threatened her father. It was frightening to know that the man who had always made her feel safe was no longer safe himself.
Lin felt profoundly isolated and depressed during this time, but knew that if she stayed silent, ultimately it wouldn’t help him, her, or anybody. She vowed never to stop.
She went to the media, told her story to The Washington Post, and testified in Congress about the Chinese regime’s torture and killing of religious minorities.
“If you don’t get your visa by the date of the start of the competition,” Lin said, “you’re automatically disqualified.” She needed an invitation letter from the Chinese regime. Fat chance.
So she went on talk shows and talked up a storm, giving a running commentary of her oppression by Chinese authorities.
At one point, the documentary shows her visiting the massive Buddha statue on Lantau Island in Hong Kong, doing the classic Chinese “heshi” greeting (also the “namaste” greeting of Indian yogis).
Lin’s voiceover says, “My goal is not to promote a certain belief, or certain ideology, but encourage people to have compassion and kindness for each other, regardless of what religion, what view, or what conduct you choose to have.
It also shows her seated in the classic full-lotus position, doing the graceful mudras (hand gestures) in preparation to the Falun Gong meditation.
Falun Gong is a potent, spiritual form of qigong, in which practitioners attempt to live their lives by the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It was so popular in China in the early ’90s that 100 million people began to practice, including government officials and military personnel.
It was only after the CCP discovered that there were more people practicing Falun Gong than there were members of the Party that the practice was banned, and a most brutal persecution began.
Living Her True Mission
“The persecution has not died down. The pressure is the same, if not higher. It’s a difficult thing to put your family in danger. How do I keep my dad safe without compromising my conscience? The answer is clear to me. But emotionally it’s very tough.”
Back to the Miss World contest—Lin decided to just up and go to Sanya, where the competition was to be held. There was a connecting flight she needed to get into Hong Kong. Before she could get on the plane, someone handed her a cell phone, and a government official told her over the phone that she wasn’t eligible for a visa. She had been declared a “persona non grata,” with no reason given.
“They were afraid I’d come back with a message of hope, and the Chinese people would hear it, and perhaps have the courage to speak up for themselves,” she said.
So Lin contacted local media in Hong Kong and had a big press conference—and talked some more. “I owe it to everyone who has supported me to at least try. I ask the members of the press to ask the government why it’s so afraid to let in a beauty queen.”
After being stranded in Hong Kong for eight days, she flew back to Canada, where fans greeting her with signs that said, “#beauty with a purpose.”
Spain took the 2015 Miss World title. As Lin says, “I felt like this huge door behind me closed, and there was this door in front of me that opened.”
She now speaks powerfully to people in power who can affect change. And she knows that her father, despite all that has happened, is proud of her.
She may never attain the status of an Oprah or a Diane Sawyer, but the personal, spiritual status she will attain from serving her conscience, fighting her fear, and championing a cause involving the worst crimes against humanity, will no doubt be profound.
Anastasia Lin: The Crown” will be screening at the Manhattan Film Festival on April 25.
Director: Kacey Cox
Cast: Anastasia Lin
Running Time: circa 20 minutes
Rating: No rating
Rated 4 stars out of 5