Arts

Sydneysider to represent Fiji at Miss World 2016 pageant

Featured: A newly crowned Miss World Fiji 2016, Pooja Priyanka. Source: Supplied

Australian-based model and dancer, Pooja Priyanka, will represent the island nation of Fiji in this year's Miss World pageant.

Pooja Priyanka is set to represent the pacific nation of Fiji in the Miss World 2016 pageant later this year.

Priyanka, 24, who is of Fiji-Indian descent, was born in Lautoka and moved to Sydney at the age of 10. Both her parents are of Fiji-Indian descent.

"I am Fijian at heart, but I call Australia home," she told SBS. "Sydney is where I was raised and where home is. But I feel Fijian at the core of me. Fiji is where I belong."

Priyanka cites her Australian upbringing as the reason she decided to "follow her dreams" and enter the pageant in the first place.

"I know that if I was to stay in Fiji, I wouldn’t have gone for the title. But because I was raised in Australia, in a first world country, I was taught to take a chance and take opportunities," she said.

"I really wanted to do it. I'd always been scared, but this time I ruled out the fear just went for it."

Priyanka started training in Indian classical dance at the age of seven, but her entrance into modelling came through a photography project at university.

"My friend was doing photography back in first year and asked, 'Do you want to do a portfolio shoot for me?'. I was 17 at the time," she said. "And from there, one thing led to another - from photo shoots to music videos to runways to beauty pageants." 

While she's taken part in several local and a few international modeling contests before, Miss World will be her biggest contest yet, as well as her most philanthropic with the pageant's affiliated charity, Beauty with a Purpose.

"It’s the official charity of Miss World. To be eligible for the competition, you’re expected to take part in community service in the country you represent. That's probably my favourite part of this pageant," Priyanka said.

Priyanka is focused on the plight of Fiji's elderly population. The nation currently has only two publicly-funded nursing homes.

"They don't always have enough basic essentials to go around. So I like to bring them extra towels, bedsheets, or even just spend time with the folks there," she said.

The pageant can act as a launchpad for international careers - Miss World 2000, Priyanka Chopra, is a Bollywood actress and the star of hit US drama 'Quantico'.

"I remember watching her crowning when I was 10 years old and thinking, 'she has the same name as me!' and 'maybe that could be me one day!' But as a 10-year-old, I didn't really think much of it," Priyanka said. "But it's just funny how the world works, and now here we are."

But while Priyanka hopes to "bring the crown home for Fiji", she's careful not to think too far ahead.

"Yes, I'd love to pursue a film career in Bollywood, Hollywood, or Australia. But right now we're focusing on the pageant," she said. "And after that, I'll just follow my nose where it goes."

 

Source SBS

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