Francesca’s new universe on the red carpet
There’s beauty and talent and then there’s the North Shore’s very own Miss Universe Australia turned entertainment reporter Francesca Hung.
By Joe McDonough
Francesca Hung has recently started her new career as E! Australia host, having replaced long-time presenter Ksenija Lukich on the crimson carpet.
It caps off a remarkable rise to fame for the 2018 Miss Universe Australia winner, considering the 25-year-old North Shore local was snubbed by every Sydney modelling agency she approached soon after graduating from Loreto Kirribilli.
“I think timing is everything and looking back now, I’m glad it happened the way it did. Not being able to land a modelling contract straight out of school meant that I had to learn some hard truths about the industry and work doubly as hard to gain work,” Francesca tells North Shore Living.
“It made me set out on my own to create original content and make connections with photographers, makeup artists, hair artists, designers and the likes. Giving up was never an option for me, I knew what I wanted, and I felt that I had what it took. I just needed someone else to see it too, and eventually [Scoop Management] did.”
Francesca, who grew up around Cremorne and Mosman, credits her Chinese heritage (her father’s parents migrated to Australia) for her thick skin, having been subjected to no shortage of racism as a kid.
She’s spoken openly about being labelled the ‘token Asian’ among her friends and being told by a stranger in a car to, “Go back to where you come from,” as a 10-year-old visiting Patonga on a family excursion.
“I definitely believe in the notion that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” she offers, thoughtfully.
“I think experiencing discrimination growing up gave me a thicker skin, which has probably helped me in the industry. Although, I’m really glad times are changing, and attitudes are growing with the times.”
Francesca is hugely thankful that her Australian-Irish mother made sure that she embraced being Chinese rather than shied away from it. And having her “gong-gong and paw-paw” (Chinese grandparents) living in Canrobert Street in Mosman made it easy to form a close bond with them.
The hardship she faced all through her childhood being mixed-race, no doubt added to the indignity she felt when she hit headlines for the wrong reasons during the Miss Universe pageant in Thailand in 2018.
Representing Australia, she was one of three women accused of joking about the language barrier at the expense of non-English speaking beauty queens Miss Cambodia and Miss Vietnam.
She later opened up about the furore, saying her comments, that it would be isolating for the contestants, came from a place of empathy.
While it may have taken some of the gloss off the experience, Francesca says she will always treasure the “three intense weeks” spent in Bangkok with “some exceptionally impressive women from around the globe”.
She adds that the journey as a whole helped her gain confidence being on stage and public speaking, and being crowned Miss Universe Australia was just the “cherry on top”.
It has certainly opened doors in the past, think Jennifer Hawkins, Rachael Finch and Jesinta Franklin, and it’s no different for Francesca, who has used her burgeoning profile to springboard into a media career.
“Modelling was something I felt passionate about in my late teens but working in the media as a journalist and host has been a desire that has really grown for me in the past say five or more years,” she reveals to North Shore Living.
“The process to become the new E! host was certainly a nerve-wracking process for my family, closest friends and myself as they all knew how much I wanted it.
“I’m not trying to be corny or clichéd, but this is absolutely a dream come true for me. There aren’t too many other jobs out there where you get paid to talk about the things you love, and in my case, I have a strong love for pop culture, entertainment and fashion. What more could a girl want?
“What’s surprised me the most is how fast paced the industry is and how much prep and research needs to go into every single piece of work, in order to deliver the best. I’m certainly being put through my paces and learning as I go along, but I like to think I’m a quick learner and love nothing more than rising to the challenge.”