American Beauty

How one unlikely lady, conquered the hearts of a nation…

Posted: 14.11.13

Since becoming the first woman of Asian origin to be crowned winner of one of the most prestigious pageants in the world, Nina Davuluri who won Miss America in September has jet-setted around the world and last week came to London, where the Asiana team styled for her an exclusive photoshoot. Anisha Vasani caught up with her in between makeovers to find out what it’s like to be the most famous Asian in the US.

You must be exhausted - you’ve been on the go since been crowed Miss America

As soon as I won I was whisked off to a press conference. I had 20 minutes with family and friends and then I was asked to pack all my belongings into suitcases and I hit the road. I currently travel 20,000 miles a month and I’m usually no longer at one place for more than 48 hours.

Amazing, so you’re literally living out of a suitcase?

First came the title of Miss New York then you were crowed Miss America how does it feel, you looked stunned when it was announced? 

It may have looked like an over-dramatic reaction but it was so real. It has been a dream of mine to have this job so for it to finally come true was amazing and an honour.

Outfit: Variety Silk House Jewellery: Kyles Collection

You’re the first South Asian to win, why was it so important to show Indian dancing as part of your entry?

The ‘talent’ was something I struggled with but I grew up dancing. My mother’s family live in south India and we would visit once a year in the summer. I would be like ‘no mum I don’t wanna go dance classes’ and she would be like 'ell we have paid the dance master so you have to go'. But eventually I fell in love with it so when I started competing there was no question; dancing was going to be my talent!

Sadly you did have some cultural black clash, did you find it upsetting?

I received hundreds of negative comments especially on Twitter but now I’ve had thousands of positive words and encouragement not only from Americans but people from across the world.

This year there were five girls competing that were from an Asian background do you think that more Asian girls are coming forward and taking part? Absolutely I think that shows there’s been a shift in attitude which is very positive.

You’re very open about embracing your lovely skin and said you don’t like the skin lightening creams used in India, what do you hope to do about that?

I grew up experiencing both sides of it. I was told don’t go out in the sun, your going to get too dark and then when I would go to school my peers would say you’re so tanned you have such beautiful skin. I hope to serve as an inspiration and symbol that it doesn’t matter about your skin colour.

You don’t like the term ‘Beauty Queen’ why is that? 

Because I am so much more than that. My job is not just walking around in a swimsuit. It’s about being well spoken and communicating on a day-to-day base and working with different service organisations.

Nina's make-up was done by Ambreen while Amna from The Ambreen Make-Up Team styled her hair

What do you think of our Asiana makeover?
Oh my gosh I love it. I’m the youngest of 17 cousins – there are tonnes of Indian weddings in my family - I love dressing up!

How do you like to dress?

Sexy but classy you can be sexy without revealing skin definitely polished classy and elegant.

Outfit: Variety Silk House Shoes: Dune Jewellery: Kyles Collection

What are your fashion essentials?

A little black dress, nude pumps, black pumps cause they go with anything and I love romper jumpsuits - they are cute, and definitely comfy sweatpants.

So you’re currently on tour, what’s next?

I’m here behalf of fashion label Joseph Ribkoff and right now I’m in the process of applying to medical school. I wont be able to start for another two years when I finish my years of service. I’ll still have a gap year after Miss America so I’ll explore other opportunities too.

Outfits by Joseph Ribcoff

What do you like about Joseph Ribkoff so much? 

The travel aspect is great you don’t need to iron their pieces so that’s great for me. Also they have great seasonal trends and floral pieces.

What are your tips for girls who want to enter beauty pageants? 

Be yourself, know who you are, love who you are and stay who you are.

Photography: Alexandre Pichon

Are you inspired by Nina’s story? Make sure you enter the UK's most prestigious beauty pageant - Miss Asiana contest. 

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