Sushmita Sen created history at the age of mere 18 when she became the first Indian to win Miss Universe in 1994. The victory brought her to limelight and she went on to establish a successful career as an actor too. As Sushmita Sen celebrates her birthday today, it is as opportune that the new Miss Universe 2023 was crowned this day as well. To mark the diva’s special day, here’s recalling the time she spoke about her win.
Sushmita Sen on entering Miss India and winning Miss Universe 1994
Miss India 1994 was one of the most competitive editions with both Sushmita and Aishwarya Rai fighting to take the win. The former edged out the latter in the national pageant, but internationally, both brought glory to the nation. While Sushmita won Miss Universe, Aishwarya won Miss World the same year.
Talking about entering Miss India, Sushmita had revealed to us in an earlier interview that it happened by chance. She shared, “Someone just sees you one day and says you should enter Miss India. I joked it off and came and laughed with my mother. She was like ‘have you lost it, go apply’. And then the famous story happened. I won Miss India which I wasn’t expecting. Now, came the big onus of representing your country at Miss Universe, where India has never won before.”
She opened up on the pressure she was facing before going to Miss Universe. Sushmita said, “You already have people saying, ‘the best of the best have gone there and not got it, where would this lanky, tall girl go’. And I am thinking, once in a lifetime opportunity. Do I want to be Miss Universe? No. But I want to go there wearing India and come back with something that no one has ever done before. I want to be India’s first. That was driving enough force where mummy, daddy and me were the people supporting me. And eventually, that support grew.”
She also thanked the country of Philippenes, where she won the crown. “I have to thank all my life, the country of Philippenes, for the amount of love and generosity they have showered upon me. I felt half Filipino while I was there. And when I won in the convention centre, 40000 people live, mostly Filipinos, all gave me a standing ovation. Now, you have Filipino girls named Sushmita,” she added.
On redefining a beauty queen image…
Sushmita changed how the beauty queens were looked at, making it more than just the outer beauty. She remembers it as the quality that actually made her win. The queen insisted, “I had my jaw hitting the floor looking at the 89 women there. They were stunning. So, the definition of beauty, if it was limited to that, I didn’t have a chance. But that happened because the only identity I had was my core belief about who I am, not about grand things like what beauty is. Nothing, just who I was and I took it to that stage.”
The actress revealed that defying her judges at the competition, played a huge role in her win. She informed, “I remember the judges telling me later that they kept telling the management at the back to tell me to stop putting my hand on my face all the time. It was a live telecast going on. But I would just keep doing namaste and keep doing everything that I was told not to do because that is just how I felt. And that honesty, though was disturbing for the telecast, my judges saw it, and they finally said, ‘I think that’s the girl’.”
Sushmita went on to make a legacy that many have followed, and still continue to do so. The actress has ruled not only the pageantry world, but the acting world as well. Here’s wishing the queen a very happy birthday.