MEET Sanjna Suri Kishore Kumar Suri, 26. This former pharmacist is in Hurghada, Egypt, flying the flag for Malaysia in the Miss International pageant. Hurghada is the leading coastal resort town on the Red Sea.
“I am excited to be here in Egypt and represent Malaysia in an international competition. It’s a good platform for me to show the world who I am, where I come from and to be recognised.
“I would like to win at least one international title,” says a cheerful Sanjna.
The Miss Intercontinental competition began in 1971 as a concurrent tourism event on the island of Aruba for teenagers. Gradually, over the years, it grew into an internationally-recognised pageant, which attracted delegates from more than 70 countries.
To Sanjna, pageants are platforms that can empower young women and allow them to advocate for their pet cause.
“It gives young women an opportunity to build a future for themselves and, at the same time, use their beauty and intelligence to be the voice of the voiceless.
“If you are a confident woman who just sits at home, how are you going to make a change?”
Sanjna got her start in pageants with the Miss Malaysia Indian Global (2012) competition, which she says was character-building and allowed her to discover herself.
A cause she strongly supports is a healthy and active lifestyle.
She had been modelling since she was a Pharmacy student, but later gained a lot of weight and had to stop.
“Being healthy is not rocket science. A simple 30-minute routine can make a big change to your life.
“When I finished studying and started working as a pharmacist, I lost weight and received a lot of job offers.
“At the time, I was also singing and had returned to modelling.
“Then, I received an invitation to represent Malaysia in the Miss Scuba International Competition (2015) in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
“It was an international competition, where the main cause was marine life protection. It sought to promote diving so that people will appreciate the beauty of marine life and the delicate underwater ecosystem and be compelled to conserve and preserve it.
“The pageant was a good platform for me because I gained recognition and it opened a lot of doors for me.
“I got a lot of opportunities to be in movies and short films. This included a cameo in a Tamil movie, Ennavel, which will premiere this year.
“I had always wanted to be in the entertainment industry, ever since I was young.
“I wanted to sing, act or model. But, growing up in an Indian family, I was made to believe that these were not potential careers, but hobbies.
“When I grew up, I realised that my interests were valid career paths and I have not looked back since. I enjoyed being a pharmacist, it’s just that it took up a lot of my time.
“I have signed up to do a Bollywood movie for director Raju Subramaniam called Menka, which will be shot in Romania and South Africa in late March or early April.
“The market in Malaysia for Indian talent is mainly for Tamil movies. I speak Hindi, not Tamil. So, although I have received many offers to be in Tamil films, I couldn’t accept them.”
Sanjna says she hopes that the Miss Intercontinental pageant will be a stepping stone to bigger and better opportunities in the entertainment industry. So far, her star is shining bright in the field.