Beauty queens turned celebrities are a dime a dozen. Singer Wincci Soo, who holds the title of Miss Malaysia World 2008, is taking it one step further.
She is working on her PhD in business administration at Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur to better manage her career.
"People don't understand why I'm doing so many things. I'm just waiting for the chance to string everything together. My thesis is on social media strategies in showbiz," says the 29-year-old Soo, who is active on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, Weibo and Twitter.
The Kuala Lumpur-born, Taipei-based singer was in town earlier this month to promote her latest self-titled Mandopop album. She also performed at the Singapore Hit Awards, organised by local radio station Yes 93.3.
She is putting her business administration studies to good use in her career, especially after she took over her Malaysia-based management company Beyond Artistes last year.
"My company's boss died last year and I couldn't bear to let it shut down. After all, my management team groomed me. So I challenged myself to take over the business," say Soo, who made her singing debut in 2009 with a self-titled multilingual album with songs in English, Malay and Mandarin.
She adds: "My working formula is that I don't sign on artists. We give them the platform, do the promotion for them and charge them a fee. We push them for shows and we train them to handle the business side too."
Soo, who has released six albums in Mandarin, English and Malay, rattles off sales figures and business strategies. It could well be because running a business runs in her family.
Her parents manage their own businesses in Kuala Lumpur. Her 50-year-old mother owns a restaurant and her 66-year-old dad has a kids' apparel store. Her two younger brothers help out in their parents' businesses.
Soo may be busy at work but she says her romantic life is quiet.
"I haven't been dating for three years. I'm a workaholic, I've abandoned my private life. My parents used to hurry me to settle down and start a family. But I'd tell them not to expect me to get married so soon," she adds.
1) Why did you make the switch from beauty pageants to singing in 2009?
My dream has always been to become a singer. I wanted to find the fastest route that would get me into show business. I have tried out all kinds of modelling contests and beauty pageants.
I actually took part in 10 contests in a year. I was such a familiar face that the judges would remark, "You again?"
2) Most beauty pageant contestants are well prepared to beat their rivals. What did you do to stand out from the competition?
I needed to learn a talent for the Miss World Pageant finals in South Africa in 2008.
I wanted to do something different so I came up with the idea of playing the piano while doing bian-lian (face-changing), an ancient Chinese dramatic art.
In future, I can perform bian-lian on Taiwanese variety shows.