Nina Davuluri was recently crowned the first-ever Indian-origin winner of the Miss America pageant. But only minutes after her win, she faced a barrage of racial remarks on social media. “I have to rise above it. I always viewed myself as — first and foremost — an American. I’m so happy this organisation has embraced diversity. I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America,” said the 24-year-old at her first press conference after winning the title.
We spoke to Lauren Gottlieb and Puja Gupta about the incident. The former is an American dancer-actor who has moved to India, while the latter is an Indian actor who has lived in America for seven years.
“While I was in the US, 95 per cent of my friends were Americans, and I never felt uncomfortable during my stay there. I believe that it all depends on an individual’s approach, and it can happen anywhere in the world. I was welcomed with open arms in America. They are nice people and the USA is a welcoming nation. Otherwise, why would they have crowned Nina? There is energy within all of us, and we should focus it on the positive side. If they (the pageant’s organisers) have invited girls from different backgrounds to participate, then the entire issue of so-called racism becomes redundant for me.”
“Of late, I have been living in a Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa (recently concluded TV show) bubble, so I don’t know much about the issue. But what people have been telling me is that they wish America had accepted Nina the way Indians have accepted me. I know I wouldn’t have survived here had the people not made me feel comfortable. I have been accepted here very well. I feel for the girl and I hope the situation changes for good. I’m extremely touched by my journey in India so far. I know everyone wanted me to win Jhalak, but the way I was appreciated and praised, I felt like a winner every week. I appreciate Indian people a lot, and I don’t feel like a foreigner here. I’ve fallen in love with India and the people. I honestly believe that I came here as a foreigner, but I’m staying here as an Indian.”