Beauty in diversity | Daily News

Beauty in diversity

Insightful and experienced, Sumaiya Sinhawansa has been tested by competition and has turned into a young woman who prizes hard work and determination. Resiliency being her hall mark, Daily News speaks to Sumaiya Sinhawansa, a girl who welcomes diversity and has no illusions about the profession.

Q: Tell me the exact nature of the competition you took part in and became runners up in?

A. I took part in Miss Sri Lanka in Europe 2016. It is a beauty pageant for (half) Sri Lankan girls living in Europe. All revenue went to a foundation for cancer and kidney patients in Sri Lanka.

Q: How did this competition transform your career?

A. After the pageant I realized I could do modeling. This is something I have never considered before. The pageant gave me a head start and having a title definitely makes it a little easier. At the moment I am still getting things started, so I am open for new projects.

Q: You are 27 years old and you live in Germany and you do modeling? What is the modeling industry like in Germany and why did you take up modeling?

A. I do live in Germany and at the moment I am still in the process of understanding the modeling industry and how it works. I am just getting my foot into the business.

I came up with the idea of modeling after I won 1st runner-up in the pageant. I never thought I would do so well in the pageant. Also, I really liked walking on stage and getting my hair and make-up done and trying on different outfits.

Q: As a beauty queen what have been the challenges you have encountered in this profession?

A. So far, I don’t have much experience in this profession, but it is definitely tougher than I thought. It all looks nice and easy but it actually involves a lot of hard work. Competition is high. It is very difficult to land jobs, so it is important to have a good network of people and if you can, sign up with a modeling agency.

Q: How many pageants have you taken part in and can you name them? How did you fare in those competitions?

A. This was my first and only pageant so far. I won first runner-up and Miss Talent.

Q: What are you doing these days?

A. I travel a lot and work as a freelance translator. I’m trying to enjoy my time as much as I can.

Q: What is your message to the youth?

A. In respect to beauty: As long as you are healthy and not overweight there is absolutely no need to strive to be skinny like most models on the cover of the magazines.

You need to realize, as well, that most photos are retouched (watch out on Instagram!) and that it is normal to have cellulite, blemishes and dark circles under the eyes. Don’t let social media fool you. Use it as a source of inspiration, but don’t let it make you feel bad about yourself and want to compete with others. There is only one you, focus on making yourself better, everyday. The only person you need to be better than is who you are now.

Also, in the light of current events in the world, I urge the youth to educate themselves and be open-minded. I am the product of an interracial relationship and I wouldn’t want it any other way. People of all races, religions and ethnicities are welcome in our house. Be very careful what the media serves you. It is important that you filter from the flood of information that is at our fingertips nowadays and go out and make your own experiences. Diversity and integrity are topics that are near to my heart.

Q: What are your goals, dreams and ambitions?

A. Personally, I always wanted to be a surgeon and that topic is not closed for me, yet. I will keep on trying, because no profession holds my interest as surgery and medicine do.

Q: Who have been your greatest influences in life?

A. My greatest influence are my parents, of course. I can remember my dad instilling important values in me from a very young age. I would say he is the person that made me so ambitious. My mom is the calmer person who always cheered me on and always found a way when things got tough for us. Without the motivational talks and support of my parents, I would not have my Master’s Degree or would have traveled the world the way I did. You cannot ask for better influencers and supporters in your life.

The person I look up to is not even a real person, but I always looked up to Dr. Christina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy! I love her drive, ambition and spirit. She is just a genius!

The people I admire in “my” profession are all those models that don’t cater to the regular model requirements. Also, I am a huge advocate for diversity, so I love it when I see people of color in magazines.

Q: What do you cherish the most in life?

A. Health, because we do not appreciate it when we have it. I once battled a Myocarditis. I had to bed rest, because my case was very severe. Until that point in my life I never appreciated the fact that I and my family were healthy. I took my health for granted. After the heart muscle infection I learned to cherish my health. Also, working at the hospital at around that same time and seeing one of my patients die from a mere nose bleed made me realize how lucky we were and that illness or death could hit any of us, any time.

That’s why I take care of my health, and make sure my family does the same. Money, love, education, success-none of those can be enjoyed fully if you are not in good health.

Q: What kind of advice would you give to a girl who wants to enter the industry you are into?

A. Think about it carefully. I was considering pageantry for about a year until I decided to go ahead with it. Once you step on that stage, people will film you and take photos of you. These days a lot of manipulation is happening once your photos are online, so you need to be sure you really want this, with the possible scenario of someone stealing your photos and making fake profiles of you (yes, this has happened to me before). Also, don’t expect a stellar career once you start in this industry. It takes a lot of hard work and competition is high. You will experience setbacks, too, so it is important that you are resilient. It is very important that you are confident, too. Sometimes you may be at a pageant or a casting and suddenly think that the other girls are much prettier than you – which is not true, because beauty is very subjective. That’s why I like the Miss Universe slogan so much. Just be confidently beautiful!

Q: What is the beauty pageant industry like in Germany? What kind of a potential does it have?

A. In Germany, pageants don’t get much of attention. I told my friends I became first runner-up in a pageant and they weren’t really excited about it, but congratulated me. When my family in Sri Lanka heard about my pageant title, they all contacted me and were over the moon! There is a big difference in popularity of pageants in Germany and Sri Lanka. If you win a pageant in Germany it probably doesn’t open as many doors as a pageant win in Sri Lanka would.

Pictures by Johanna. G. Vogt, Sagara Lakmal De Mel and Purnima Photography

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