Despite the fear of the pandemic, LIVA Miss Diva 2021, went ahead with the motto that the show must go on giving aspiring divas an opportunity to achieve their dreams. Sonal Kukreja was crowned Miss Diva 2021 1st Runner-up. We chatted to the pageant winner to find out a little bit more about her aspirations.
Along with the title comes legacy and responsibility, how do your plan on fulfilling your role?
Sonal Kukreja: I define beauty as the courage in your heart, the truth in your words and the relentless drive to make a difference. Being crowned as a beauty queen, I want to honour the meaning of beauty and all its forms. Through this platform, I want to fulfil my mission of transforming the financial landscape of India by enabling awareness and opportunities for women to be financially independent. With financial independence, comes the ability to make choices and take charge of your life.
Further, I want to inspire people to dream big, believe in themselves so they can break free from all the barriers and create the life of their dreams. "Whether you believe you can or you believe you can't, either way, you're right."
Did u expect it and how did u feel when u won ?
Sonal Kukreja: The journey for me was never about winning the crown. Perhaps it was about challenging myself to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations, accepting myself the way I am and the way I am not, and most importantly, amplifying my message that beauty is more than what catches the eye so let's stop letting our inhibitions thwart our idea of reality and let's all go on being the best versions of ourselves.
I knew my goals and I just surrendered myself to the process to let live the way. I felt absolutely ecstatic when I got into Top 3 but more than anything, I felt a sense of accomplishment to have been able to complete this journey with honor and truth. It is a surreal feeling and I can't wait to unleash all that this journey has in store for me.
What is the hardest part of the pageant?
Sonal Kukreja: I was in a vulnerable state throughout the journey. I was modelling for the first time. It was very hard for me to put all my inhibitions aside. "But I'm not a model", "I don't know how to walk a ramp", "everyone else has so much experience" kept playing on my mind on repeat. It was midway through the journey when I realized it was never about anyone else but about making myself better and all I had to learn was to make uncomfortable situations my comfort zone. A small change in your mindset can change your life.
Off late, pageants don't enjoy the same popularity they used to, do u agree and why?
Sonal Kukreja: Pageants are infamous for carrying forward unrealistic and outdated beauty standards. With the way we're evolving, pageants don't enjoy the same following and popularity as they used to. However, pageants are about becoming the best version of yourself in every way and going on to make a difference in the world.
The few things the pandemic has taught you ?
Sonal Kukreja: One of the things I learnt is that you can't pour from an empty cup. I need to be there for myself before I can be there for anyone else so I started reading more, meditating, taking care of my physical, mental and spiritual health. The other thing I learnt was that the only limitations I have are the ones in my mind. I took the risk to leave my job in the US and move to India to launch my startup, Unicas to enable opportunities for the common person in India to be financially independent.
What is the next step and do u plan to debut in Bollywood?
Sonal Kukreja: Pageants give you a platform but I don't necessarily see that as a gateway into Bollywood. Acting requires a whole different skill set than what you need in pageantry. I'm someone who never wants to leave any rocks unturned so if an opportunity comes my way, I would love to explore it but for now, I want to continue to work on my mission of providing financial independence and empowering women to create the life of their dreams.