Brian Liu is not the kind of guy you would expect to join, much less win a male pageant. He’s not a pretty boy, but cuts a trim and toned silhouette, with a face that is more actorly than model-esque. Yet, he beat a handful of contestants to snag the Nuyou Men We Love title last November. Having grown up in Hong Kong and studied in New York, the single 28-year-old management consultant with Ernst & Young has an intellectual confidence, and is, as we discover, a true gentleman.
How did you get on the cover of Prestige?
Someone in the fashion industry knew about me in Nuyou, and thought I was suitable for a fashion shoot. I reckon they picked me because of my background, occupation and my Asian eyes for the Asian motif of the shoot.
Nuyou’s Men We Love was your first pageant. What made you enter? Actually I wasn’t even intending to join the pageant. I thought I was going down to be part of a quick photo shoot. They asked me a few questions which I thought were just some quotes to go with the photos—turned out, that was my pageant “application”.
Did you have to buff up and all that?
I really should have, but my work schedule didn’t afford me that luxury of time. I just did my best to watch my diet and to run whenever I could.
What was the main thing you took away from the experience?
That not all pageants are simply about chiseled abs and good looks. Sincerity and personality do count, which is the only possible explanation for me winning the event.
What followed after you won the contest?
The pageant led to a great opportunity to be a contestant on a Channel U Chinese reality-variety show called U’re The Man. Being on that show was an amazing experience in terms of understanding all the magic that goes behind producing a TV program, as well as all the unbelievable people I met along the way.
How has all this changed your life? Any plans to quit your day job?
I’m still the same guy at the same day job, but I feel really grateful for the new opportunities. People have this misconception that being on TV changes you. It’s not the show that changed me, it was the people I met that did. I do hope that one day, they pick me for an article on being hugely successful, with a maverick idea that impacts the world!
How do your friends describe you?
Easy -going, laid-back and completely spontaneous. They know that I’m up for anything.
What is your life mantra?
Work hard, play hard, love hard. Life is too short to be bogged down by regrets and petty hiccups.
What is your idea of a true romantic?
A man who is still openly affectionate with his wife even after the kids have grown up. Seeing such couples, holding hands and being loving to each other in public always gets to me—that is the kind of married life I aspire to have.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Never settle for second best.” It reminds me to be patient for the good things in life, to work hard and set my sights high.
What makes you happiest?
The simple joys in life … an afternoon by the beach with a loved one, perhaps, topped off with a hearty dinner with close friends—I couldn’t be happier.
What were some of the significant milestones in your life that shaped you into who you are today?
My mother passed away when I was 12. My world crumbled, but I learned what was important in life—your loved ones. Love them fiercely and make sure they know it.
Who/what are your biggest influences?
My father—his is an amazing story of rags to great success in the investment banking field. My work ethics, tenacity and determination in life spring from the example that he has set. Then there’s my Christian faith, which picked me up from the shambles that I was in after my mother’s passing. I would not have known how to live the rest of my life without my faith.
What do you think are some of the long lost values that make a gentleman?
Integrity—faithfulness to one’s word, and that includes wedding vows. I am disappointed by the decline of chivalry and romance in the relationships I see around me, but my biggest gripe is what I like to call “emotional responsibility.” I truly believe that gentlemen should be responsible in managing the expectations and feelings of the ladies in their lives. To put it simply, if you are into the lady, be upfront and clear with your feelings and intentions. Likewise if you have no interest or you see no future with her. The truth might hurt, but they will appreciate the honesty. No one’s time should be wasted. Ambiguity and indecision make up the devil’s playground.