FEATURE: Tammy Tran’s campaign for Miss California 2011


For nearly two year’s, San Jose Model Tammy Tran has been Helium Magazine’s original balloon girl. Floating at the top of this website and all of our marketing material, her glistening stare of hope has been seen by hundreds of thousands of fashionistas throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. But destined to prove that there’s more confidence behind those eyes, Tran ran for the Miss California USA 2011 contest last year in hopes of expanding her iconic image and influence on her community.

Helium Magazine: What inspired you to run for Miss California USA, and how did being Helium Magazine’s balloon girl influence your campaign?

Tammy Tran: I was driven to enter the pageant with a strong desire to make a difference and a major statement. Many people would look at me and not once would I ever be assumed to be a potential representative of California. I wanted to prove not only to myself but to those in doubt that everyone has the ability to make their mark in the world. Having such an amazing background and large image to support me, I felt more confident than ever that I could be an icon for not only my local community but to the greater society. It is such an honor to hold such an image as the Helium Balloon Girl. I was constantly recognized as a central image to a magazine and it only further encouraged me to reach above and beyond that. 

HM: What were some of the toughest things you encountered in your campaign?

TT: As much as I believed in myself, the most difficult task was to convince others to believe in me too. I was competing against approximately 200 other beautiful young women and the support of the community was crucial to our campaign. Putting together fundraisers and asking for sponsors was a challenge task that put through sleepless nights and constant planning.

HM: Let’s be real here girl; how many cat fights were there?

TT: No cat fights… The atmosphere was surprisingly very genuinely sweet and welcoming. I had a wonderful time making friends and receiving tips from my roommates without a problem. The most beautiful moment I recall was when an evening gown was misplaced through the hotel staff and could not be located for the preliminaries. The distressed contestant cried for hours as the entire floor tried to locate the dress and when we had no such luck, another contestant received word of the unfortunate situation and lent her the back up dress she had brought with her. Luck was on her side and it fit her perfectly! What should have been a competition was very much about cooperation and to see a stranger help another with such kindness made me stop and re evaluate the world of pageantry.

HM: How do you think the pageant helps local communities?
TT: I truly believe that the pageant is beneficial to the community because service to the community could not be emphasized more strongly. While I was attempting to raise funds to compete, I also donated 60% of my total profits to multiple non profit organizations. It teaches young women to be active members of the society, therefore benefiting hundreds of local communities by inspiring each individual.

HM: Are you going to be next year’s winner?

TT: I would honestly consider running again once I feel more prepared. I learned so much about dedication and developed an amazing sense of responsibility. Becoming an active member of the society has become something I have dedicated myself to and its been such an amazing journey to do service for the community. There are true values that lie beneath the glamour of pageantry and it is certainly up to the individual to hold into that. Though I was not a winner, I walked away with much more than a crown.


Photography by Matthew Mountford
Interview by Tyler Do
Styling by Renata Gar
Hair Styling by Nathan and Jade from Umbrella Salon
Makeup by Marina Petrenko
Shoot Direction by Khiem Hoang
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