Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu on her Indian homecoming, acting aspirations and ‘dream’ UAE visit | Job Binary

For pageant hopefuls around the world, dreams don’t get much bigger than one day at the Miss Universe crown. But for Harnaaz Sandhu, that was not always the case.

“Honestly I had no idea about Miss Universe when I was young,” Sandhu said Country from New York, a month after receiving the coveted crown in Israel. “I didn’t plan my life to compete in beauty contests.”

In fact, Sandhu’s pageant journey didn’t start until she was 17, when she won the first title of Miss Chandigarh 2017 in her home town.

He said: “I went from representing my city, to represent the state of Punjab, then to represent India, my country, and now to represent the whole world.”

“I realized that I want to serve the community. My mother as a doctor does that, and my grandfather is a lawyer, so he also works for the city and the state, so I want to do the same. I don’t know where to start.”

And as Sandhu’s pageantry triumphed, so did her passionate advocacy for women’s empowerment, a reason she was able to advance to the world stage at December’s Miss Universe pageant.

“It’s really close to my heart, so I’m happy to take that advocacy forward and to every possible country wherever I go, so I talk about women’s empowerment and continue to learn from everyone I meet, learn from their experiences and to bring them back to the world,” he said.

While being crowned Miss Universe may not have always been your dream, the moment turned out to be bigger than you could have ever imagined.

“When host Steve Harvey said ‘India’, I let my emotions go. I was confused like, ‘What just happened?’ But at the same time, I know that I am very happy to stand in front of the audience and to speak. That is my ultimate goal, to say something I believe in,” said Sandhu. “It was very reassuring, but when Steve said, ‘Take the first ride’, something none of us had ever tried, that’s when I knew ‘this is it’ and that I just trying to control my emotions. I’m crying with joy.”

But as amazing as that moment was for Sandhu, it was not the most stable. It’s the moments you experience in the build-up to the great end of the page that will really stay with you.

“I think the best thing about the Miss Universe pageant is that you are empowered by each of the individuals around you and to represent your country is great. It is an honor to represent 1.4 billion people,” he said.

“I could see a big change in me from the first day and how beautiful I got to have new friends from different countries and learn from their culture, their strengths and their talents. That’s the beauty of Miss Universe, that we celebrate sisterhood, and every single day we help each other.”

Remember everything happens for a reason. I take that belief with me everywhere I’ve been so far and I think that’s what makes me recommend

Harnaaz Sandhu, Miss Universe 2021

At the crown of Miss Universe 2021, Sandhu is the third woman to win the title for India, and she is the first to bring it home in 21 years, making it all the more important to her. Naturally, the support from his country has been strong, and with a homecoming celebration on the cards in the near future, Sandhu can’t wait to celebrate his success where it all began.

“India haven’t won for 21 years, so it will be really great,” he said. “I am happy to go to Punjab, my home town, and to eat local food, go to the Golden Temple, one of the holy places of India, and to meet my team and as many people as possible.

“I haven’t been able to see my father and brother yet or be able to visit my hometown, so I’m very happy to be there and celebrate this big, I can’t wait for this to happen.”

Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu on the observation stage of the Empire State Building in New York City.  Reuters

Before succeeding in beauty pageants, Sandhu starred in a number of television and small film productions in India. With his background in acting and his new global status, the word has naturally turned to the future in cinema, and in particular, Bollywood.

“I’m an actor for sure, I’ve done TV for the last five years, and I’m going to pursue acting – it could be the world. My vision for a very different actor. I want to be an actor who breaks stereotypes of women and what they can be if given the chance, by choosing strong characters. That’s what I want to do, so fingers crossed,” he said.

“Life is unpredictable so you should plan less and just go with the flow. Dig deep, breathe, and remember everything happens for a reason. I’ve taken that belief with me wherever I’ve been so far and I think that’s what’s kept me going.”

Right now, Sandhu is getting used to her new title as she works with the Miss Universe Organization in New York, where she also enjoys her free time by giving tours of some of the city’s most famous landmarks.

“I’m in New York for the first time, so I’m still exploring the city and exploring the organization. I got to go out and visit Central Park,” he said. “It was a very beautiful moment for me.”

And with the World now, literally, your oyster, where’s the next stop for Sandhu?

“You will be surprised to know that the UAE is one of my dream destinations and I have been waiting to go there,” he said. “Let’s hope I get to visit this year. It’s a beautiful, beautiful place, you have no idea – it’s like my dream place. “

Updated: February 01, 2022, 8:46 AM

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