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The People’s Queen is being called a cross between Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and America’s Next Top Model. The show follows Cecilio Asuncion and Voltaire Tayag as they challenge five of the top Filipino pageant hopefuls in their quests for international titles. Cecilio and Voltaire are not simply shaping the perfect beauty queen, they’re creating The People’s Queen.

“In today’s pageants, the real competition is an internal one,”  says Cecilio Asuncion.  His history with the pageant system extends to before he was even born. His grandmother was Miss Manila.  “It used to be that women reshaped themselves to fit the crown, striving to match the idealized version of a Barbie doll beauty queen. Today’s judges want to see the real, unfiltered woman beneath the lashes and beautiful gowns.”

The five pageant hopefuls in The People’s Queen are Nikita, a biracial beauty confronting her bullied past; 25 year-old Katrina, who spent years focusing on the needs of her immigrant family and may have missed her chance for an international crown; 15 year-old Jenny, a pageant newbie who may be too rough around the edges; overly shy Michelle who must break out of her shell if she hopes to compete at the Miss Philippines pageant; and Katarina, a runner-up on Asia’s Next Top Model and former Miss Intercontinental Philippines who is now vying for the Miss World Philippines crown.

“American audiences are craving multiculturalism in their televised programming and are especially interested in seeing more Asian representation,” says ABS-CBN Global COO and executive producer Olivia De Jesus. She points to the successes of ABC-TV’s Fresh Off the Boat and the Warner Brothers Pictures’ film, Crazy Rich Asians.

Asuncion adds that the trend toward diversity isn’t exclusive to Hollywood. He sees it taking over pageants too as they are actively promoting varied shapes, heights and backgrounds in competition. “The upcoming Miss Universe 2018 pageant will even feature its first Transgender contestant, Miss Spain, competing for the crown,” he says.

“Pageant queens were never born, they’ve always been made,” Asuncion contends. “Where we used to build a queen with external make-overs, it’s internal transformations that win titles today. It’s simply not enough to be a beauty queen anymore. Pageant hopefuls must strive to be The People’s Queen.”

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