“Pageantry is not as big in Sri Lanka, as in Latin America
By Menaka Indrakumar
Jayathi De Silva, Miss Sri Lanka for Miss Universe 2016, is just not one those title winners, but a scientist in the very unconventional field of cancer biology. She is very vocal about what is close to her heart and besides modelling, she is focusing on her research work. Here, Jayathi talks about her experience at the pageant and works as a researcher.
What have you learnt from the pageant?
The experience was truly a once- in-a lifetime opportunity. It was an extremely liberating journey. You learn how to be independent and thrive in an extremely stressful environment. You become an ambassador for your country and learn how to successfully represent yourself by effectively showcasing your talent and voicing your opinions.
Who was the toughest competitor from Sri Lanka?
This is very hard to single out, as all the competitors were extremely on point and brought their best to the table. It was a very fierce competition.
Which contestant did you worry about the most at the Miss Universe pageant?
All 86 contestants were extremely well prepared. Each contestant had something unique to offer and were all driven to bring the title home. It was one of the most challenging experiences I have had to face.
Sri Lanka hasn't won a pageant for decades, what's the reason?
Pageantry is not as big in Sri Lanka as it is in Latin American countries, India, Philippines and Thailand etc. These countries have invested so much in it and as a result, the national winners have a large fan base and support network around the world, as well as in their home countries. These countries are heavily interested in pageantry, it is a huge business for them so there is a lot of interest from sponsors, designers, make-up artists and coaches and so on, which means that there are lots of resources available for their contestants, which makes the preparation process much more comprehensive. This provides a huge competitive advantage in the competition.
The pageant fan base is well informed and influenced by powerhouse countries so in an international competition, it is naturally beneficial to select winners or semi-finalists from among these countries in order to generate profit and ensure their fan base is secure .
From the start, you were a favourite among the judges, comment.
I think that is because I stood out from the rest of the contestants because of my unconventional background of being a cancer biologist, which is so not typical in the pageantry world. Even the president of the Miss Universe Organization, Paula Shugart was quite fascinated by my career choice. After my personal interview, the judges said that I had quite an impressive bio. I was extremely happy and honoured by these comments and the feedback I received from everyone I met during the competition.
Will you be pursuing science?
Yes of course. Straight after the pageant, I resumed my work as a cancer biologist.
As former Miss Universe, you look up to?
Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach is my favourite Miss Universe of all time. Her life story, her determination and willingness to beat all odds is quite admirable and I find her very inspiring. Apart from all that, she is truly a very humble and a genuine person.
What is your fashion statement?
It constantly changes from time to time and with trends. Right now, it's an overall outfit preference which includes ruffles (the bigger the better), statement earrings and a pair of very high heels.
Favourite supermodel and actress?
Joan Smalls and Taraji P. Henson
Your best feature?
One piece of advice to the next Miss Universe Sri Lanka?
Be yourself, work hard and do your best. People will have different opinions and may judge you, but as long as you are willing to put in the hard work and look beyond the obstacles presented, you can succeed.
One thing you learnt about the pageant you didn't know?
How unimaginably stressful they can be.
Your thoughts on the current political situation?
The current political situation is quite messy. I wish all the leaders would get together and put their differences aside and focus on what really is important for the country to succeed rather than passing the blame back and forth.
Three hidden talents of yours
Paper quilling, mason jar crafts and baking vegan chocolate cakes.
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