Teenager Meeghan Henry seems like a young woman in a hurry. A university student and accomplished singer, the Indonesian-born 17-year-old is also the current Miss Teen Asia USA. California-based Meeghan balances the work that comes with the title, an ambitious music career and her work load at the University of La Verne in California, where she is studying broadcast TV.
As an aspiring pop star, Meeghan has also released a full-length album titled “When I’m 18,” which includes 12 original tracks, mostly written by Meeghan.
As Miss Teen Asia USA, Meeghan said she is using the platform to push positive messages to young people about ending bullying, and staying away from alcohol and drugs. She is also promoting Indonesia to the world.
The Jakarta Globe interviewed Meeghan by email to find out more about her experience as Miss Teen Asia USA 2011, her Indonesian roots and her quest for stardom.
Tell us about your duties as Miss Teen Asia USA?
Once the crown was put on my head, the rest was up to me. Nothing is going to happen if I don’t take action. I can’t just wait for an opportunity to come along. I have to go find the opportunities myself. This reign only lasts for one year and it’s a once in a lifetime experience, so I’m willing to do whatever I need to do.
I travel a lot and I also get to visit different organizations and charities and spread my platform message. It’s such a fulfilling thing.
My platform focuses on the younger generation, and it’s all about living above the influence [of drugs]. I want to spread the message that you don’t have to succumb to society’s pressures to live a successful life.
As Miss Teen Asia USA, what can you contribute to Indonesia?
I think my job as Miss Teen Asia USA and as a native-born Indonesian is to promote my home country along with other Asian countries. Not a lot of people know about Indonesia, although we are the fourth most populous country in the entire world, the third largest democracy and we have more than 17,000 islands.
People usually know Indonesia, maybe, for the tsunami we had a few years back and possibly Bali, but those aren’t the only things the country offers. There are so many islands, there are so many different traditions and cultures and they’re all beautiful. I think if people find that, they would embrace the Indonesian culture. My job is to bring Indonesia to people’s attention.
How have you promoted Indonesia as Miss Teen Asia USA?
I actually just did the 123rd Annual Rose Parade! It was so much fun! I got to ride on the ‘Wonderful Indonesia’ float, which won the President’s Trophy, and I got to ride on it with Raul Rodriguez, who designed the float. The float was actually his 500th float, too, so it was a big deal.
Why did you decide to enter Miss Teen Asia USA?
I’ve always thought that it would be a good thing to dip my fingers into as many different things as possible while I’m still young to get some experiences under my belt, and pageants were always something I loved to watch. The girls were huge role models to me, so I thought to myself, ‘I want to be like them one day.’ Why not start now?
So I entered the pageant, and it was an amazing experience. I learned so many things, from etiquette skills to keeping my poise to self confidence. I also learned about other Asian cultures along with my own, and I gained lots of friends, two of which I consider among my best friends now.
What do you enjoy about being Miss Teen Asia USA?
I love everything about being Miss Teen Asia USA. Of course, I love going to red carpet events and all the perks that come with the title, but I also love meeting kids and hearing them tell me that they want to be like me when they grow up. It’s the best feeling in the world because I always thought the same thing about people like Miss America and Miss Universe. Now, I’m one of them, and I’m glad I can help make an impact with my title as well.
What were some of the biggest challenge of the competition?
For me, the biggest challenge was accepting myself. I was always comparing myself to other girls to see how I compared to them in the competition when I should’ve been focusing on myself. It was really hard not to let myself think about that kind of stuff because it was a competition, but towards the end, I realized that I was beautiful no matter what.
You are also an aspiring singer. What do you like about singing?
Singing is my form of expression. It’s even better when I sing songs that I wrote myself because I completely relate to the song. When I sing, I’m completely vulnerable, and it’s hard to feel that way. But when you have people who tell you that you’re a great singer or have people who just like the music you make, it makes it all worthwhile.
What was your inspiration for the song ‘When I’m 18’?
When I wrote ‘When I’m 18,’ I was in a dream state. I was just super happy that day and I was thinking about the future, and that’s how I came up with the song.
Where have you performed?
I’ve performed my songs at so many places. I was on a school tour last year so I performed at a ton of schools in Southern California, but I’ve also been called on to perform at places such as the Asian American Expo. I sang at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills for my CD release and Colby O’Donis also sang with me. I’ve sung at the House of Blues and Whisky A Go Go, among many other places.
You live in California, what do you miss most about Indonesia?
I miss the food. I love ayam goreng kalasan , mie goreng and sate ayam. However, I visit Indonesia a lot. Probably every other year, if not every year.
What are some of your hobbies?
I love movie editing. I also like photography. In fact, I’m taking a photography class at school right now, and it’s really fun.
What are your plans for the future? Any upcoming projects?
I’m just focusing on my school, singing and being Miss Teen Asia USA. Between all of that, I have to find time for myself and hanging out with friends and being a regular teenager, but I do have a lot of goals for myself in the future. I’m hoping my music career will progress and I want to be a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador.
But I’m living life one day at a time.
Source: The Jakarta Globe