“I am Not Afraid To Be My Actuality”: Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu

It is 8.30 a.m., and a crew of 15 have gathered to shoot Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu in an expensive duplex home on the forty second ground of 4 Seasons Personal Residence, which is able to carry you a panoramic view of Mumbai’s well-known Haji Ali Dargah and the formidable Eighth Offers View- Lane Coastal Street Challenge. If it weren’t for the massive contingent accompanying her, I would not imagine I might be within the firm of somebody who was topped Miss Universe 4 months in the past in Israel. Do not get me improper: Even freed from make-up and her signature banged-up hair, Hernaz, sporting a metallic silver shirt artfully tucked into French navy blue ‘mom-fit’ denim, is the textbook definition of gorgeous. ; It’s her simplicity and full indifference in treating her as a very powerful individual within the room that stuns everybody.


gown, Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, jewelry, Outhouse Jewellery, footwear, Jimmy Choo

Harnaaz can be whip-smart, a proven fact that has been masterfully transmitted a number of occasions by way of screens to audiences in 172 nations, most notably when host Steve Harvey asks her to carry out impressions of animals on a world stage in a single place. stored on It’s no marvel why she was chosen as the very best amongst 80 contestants to reflect a girl on the earth. However she’s additionally discovered one other high quality that could be uncommon in ladies who develop into the usual for others to measure themselves towards – they’ve the facility to stroll right into a room and put others comfortable. And, as she tells me concerning the busy day she’s about to have between sips of water—hydration is essential in her pores and skin routine, she admits—I notice that kindness is the one type of magnificence that actually issues. in transfixing.

When Lara Dutta was topped Miss Universe in 2000, Harnaaz was only some months previous. Within the years that adopted, the closest we have been to successful was when Adeline Castellino, who represented the nation in 2020, was positioned because the third runner-up. My thoughts instantly jumps to the considered what sort of stress it places on any contestant, not to mention somebody who is simply 21, and Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Lara Dutta and others topped. I’ve grown up listening to winners casually. The identify received misplaced in on a regular basis dialog. “After I received Miss Diva, I knew I did not have time to rejoice; I felt the urgency to return to work and put together for Miss Universe,” says Hernaz, who has a career-changing expertise with the life-changing pageant. She had solely 45 days to coach for, days that have been additionally filled with Miss Diva duties. ‘Grounded’, ‘decided’ and ‘optimistic’ are only a few of the various different adjectives her coach associates with Harnaaz ; She was a sponge that absorbed every thing.

At this level of the dialog, Harnaaz sat comfortably in her plush wingback chair, able to get able to shoot. Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna’s assortment for this cowl is enriched with wealthy materials in a harmonious palette of wine, grey and sapphire, and embroidery that makes Harnaaz world but conventional. He has that type of calm self-assurance that comes when issues go downhill. Her innate optimism comes when she says, “All the pieces occurs for a purpose,” and “if you’re able to make a distinction in your life, nothing can cease it.” She is certainly referring to the time when she represented Punjab at Femina Miss India and solely made it to the highest 12. “I bear in mind crying so much throughout that point; It took me a month to come back again from this,” says Harnaaz. “Nonetheless, I am glad I did not win. After I got here again for LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2021, I used to be extra assured, higher ready; I knew what I wished to do. And, right here we’re, We received.” The room we’re in is full of people that can affirm that Hernaz’s religion was clear. “I dreamed of that precise second,” she says. Imagined I used to be standing on the stage precisely the place I used to be. So, when Steve mentioned, ‘India!’ It felt surreal. I used to be in tears.” To say that she revealed her victory is a testomony to the writer of Thriller.

Harnaaz tells me that persons are “completely improper” in the event that they suppose pageants are solely about strolling the ramp sporting high fashion and searching stunning. “We’ve a accountability to the Taj,” she says. “A Miss Universe is a girl who just isn’t afraid to talk her thoughts, who is gorgeous in and out, and who has the braveness to make a distinction in society.” Certain, there’s forex to carry dwelling a crown – Bollywood is filled with actors from competitors winners – and, with just a few Punjabi movies releasing this 12 months, she’s already acquainted with that exact type of superstar. However Harnaaz can be a resident member of the waking technology who’re always attempting to remodel their privilege to be a car of social change. “I need to be the youth icon of India as a result of I additionally symbolize the long run.


gown, Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, jewelry, Vienz

,I do know that individuals, particularly younger women, are wanting as much as me. I am within the highlight proper now, and I do know that no matter I do, folks take it ahead. And what she needs to do is carry extra consciousness to ladies empowerment points and menstrual equality – a trigger that’s near her coronary heart after repeatedly seeing her shortcomings in well being campaigns and medical camps together with her mom. She is a Gynecologist. “It’s time to discuss critical points. It’s troublesome to vary folks’s mindset in the direction of what is sweet for them, however I believe I’m prepared to take action. Via my journey and my efforts, I need to be certain that each lady around the globe feels empowered and comfy speaking about their menstrual well being,” she says.

If you have a look at Harnaaz in the present day, it is onerous to think about she was a reticent and fewer assured 17-year-old whose life modified when she competed within the Occasions Recent Face contest. It’s equally troublesome to keep in mind that she remains to be solely 22 years previous, although she is on her approach to full world domination. On the one hand, she’s a spokesperson for the Miss Universe Group, the place her duties embody working with initiatives like World Citizen, God’s Love We Ship, and Smile Practice—actually, she’s spent the final two months in New York. Miss Universe Headquarters; Then again, she is pursuing her Masters remotely. However what makes her reign more difficult than the Indian Miss Universe of at the least 20 years in the past is coping with the stress of regularly being within the public eye due to social media. Harnaaz admitted, “This focus comes with a whole lot of execs and cons, making the face of his recreation a bit crease at occasions.” Folks need to know so much about you, however on the identical time, They arrive with a whole lot of expectations. I respect it, but it surely’s My Life Miss Universe can be an individual – actually, she’s solely 22 years previous! I’m no skilled in something. I’m solely human. And I am simply studying.”

The final 4 years of Harnaaz have handed a lot that she now needs to mildew for some time. “COVID has taught us to be sensible, dwell within the current and profit from it,” she says. “You actually do not know what’s going to occur tomorrow. Why do you need to plan your life?” This doesn’t imply that we are going to see much less Harnaaz within the occasions to come back. Harnaaz, who has talked about turning into an actor on a number of events, says, “I can not predict the long run, however my imaginative and prescient is one thing I’ll work for.” “Presently I’m targeted on being the spokesperson of the Miss Universe group and benefiting from this chance. However, whether it is about leisure, I’d undoubtedly prefer to be part of it globally,” she says Does this imply that a world challenge is on the playing cards? In such conditions her coaching is useful as she manages to offer nothing however look completely lovable.


gown, Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, rings, Outhouse Jewellery, Earrings, Vienz

It is easy to lose monitor of time if you’re somebody’s magical journey as inspiring as Harnaaz. The truth that we’re having this dialog within the backdrop of town of desires, Mumbai, makes it all of the extra partaking. That is why when somebody involves take her to the “glam room” we each get into actuality so she will gown up. As she rises from her chair by the window, I ask if she will inform me that the journey to Miss Universe has made a major distinction in her life. “You understand, the most important change is that I’ve develop into extra assured in myself now. I am oblivious to being my genuine self.”

An hour later, once I have a look at the mirroring photographs of Harnaaz stretched out on a chair in a white pantsuit on the small display screen, I see what she means. Here is a 22-year-old lady whose upward transfer has barely begun, and we’re already in awe of her.


{Photograph}: Tracy Nguyen

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