Long legs short on honesty

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Le Ngoc Phuong Trinh, who adopts the show biz name Angela Phuong Trinh, has lied about preparing for the high school graduation exam early this month while it turned out she did not finish secondary school

Justin Bieber never went to high school.

Brilliant Hogwarts student on screen, Emma Watson, also scored A pluses and As in her GCSE tests and entered university after a gap year (but has had to defer academic pursuits because of acting commitments).

School and college grades do not decide how much a star shines on the ramp, the stage, or the silver screen, so there is no need for controversy about a celebrity's academic qualifications or the lack thereof.

But the beauty without brains debate returned to the public arena in Vietnam early this month after a popular model and actress lied about sitting for the national high school graduation exam.

Le Ngoc Phuong Trinh, known on stage as Angela Phuong Trinh, appeared on many news websites and her Facebook page saying how busy she has been with the preparations for the high school graduation exam, how she was praying, going to the pagoda and also staying vegan to acquire merit that will help with her results.

But when she failed to show up for the exam, which took place June 2-4, eyebrows rose and later turned to angry frowns when it was found that she had not even completed secondary school.

The media expose earned Trinh who had already turned from a cute, skillful little girl actress to a controversial one blamed for indecent exposure including nude videos a lot of flak.

People said they were not angry that she dropped out of school, but that she lied to the public. Trinh issued an apology on her Facebook page later.

Trinh's deceit turned the media spotlight on to other young and famous beauties in Ho Chi Minh City, and the picture that emerged was not pretty.


Beauty vs. brains

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Many teen stars in the city proved to be average C students, scoring just 32 or 33 out of 60 for six subjects at the high school exam.

Pham Ngoc Quy, winner of Teen Model 2010 and first runner-up at the 2012 edition of Vietnam's Next Top Model, a local adaptation of the US version, scored 42, a B minus.

Some of the older, beautiful faces are not doing any better at college.

Hoang Thuy Linh entered the Hanoi Academy of Theater and Cinema as a promising candidate with high scores in the entrance exams, but too many no-shows at classes have kept her in college instead of graduating at least two years ago.

Her fifth semester results were an average score of 3.4, or an E.

Linh's schoolmates said she only shows up once in a while. "Sometimes she disappeared for a whole week without notice," one told VnMedia, the news website of Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group.

Her teachers said Linh is smart, but she has skipped many classes and has to sit the classes or the exams again.

"Hot girl" Dang Thi My Dung, MC, model and actress, entered Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture several years ago with the second highest entrance exam score for the graphic design faculty, and top score at Ho Chi Minh City College of Arts and Culture.

But being a popular show biz girl has meant that she is no longer a good student.

Her academic record for the school year 2008-2009, released recently, showed she scored roughly over 5 out of 10 on average. She made below average scores for some subjects and had to sit the exams again, and scored just enough (5) to pass.

Many local media reports harked back to similar beauty queen scandals. In 2008, winner of the Miss Vietnam contest, Tran Thi Thuy Dung, was exposed for not having finished high school, which is a mandatory requirement for participating in national beauty pageants.

Pressure from the public after her victory forced Thuy Dung to resume her studies and take the high school graduation exams. She got 33 out of 60 in her six core subjects, including 3 out of 10 for Literature.

The negative attention on Thuy Dung was redirected to Luu Thi Diem Huong, Miss Vietnam World 2010, after her academic record from the private Hoa Sen University in Ho Chi Minh City showed she failed seven subjects in one semester and scored a C or D in 11 other subjects.

Some people supported Huong, saying intelligence is not all about school records, but poor grades were not the only problem for this beauty. 

At the Q&A session in the contest, she stated that Vietnam's first university, Quoc Tu Giam in Hanoi, was built 700 years ago while it was built in 1076.

There were other bloomers as well but she apparently made up for her lack of general knowledge in the bikini and dress categories to win the contest.

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