Lawyers, budding forensic scientists, university students and models, the top ten of this year’s LITE FM Miss Universe Sri Lanka is an interesting spectrum of young women and an image of fiercely contemporary femininity. With the aim of spreading the message- that you don’t necessarily need a modelling background to become a Miss Universe competitor, [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Lawyers, scientists, models: Who will wear the crown?

LITE FM’s Miss Universe Sri Lanka is all set to make a splash with its top ten candidates for the finals on August 17. Here Purnima Pilapitiya catches up with some of them

The finer points: Corporate trainer Dila Hettiaratchchy (centre) imparts some lessons in etiquette

Lawyers, budding forensic scientists, university students and models, the top ten of this year’s LITE FM Miss Universe Sri Lanka is an interesting spectrum of young women and an image of fiercely contemporary femininity. With the aim of spreading the message- that you don’t necessarily need a modelling background to become a Miss Universe competitor, LITE FM’s Miss Universe Sri Lanka is back to discover and groom its potential candidate for the 63rd Miss Universe Pageant, to be held later this year.

Following in the footsteps of last year’s winner, Amanda Rathnayake, the winner will not only be an ambassador for the country in the international arena but will also be the ambassador for TNL networks, representing them at all events, etc throughout her reign.

The lucky 10 finalists have been on a schedule of fitness, beauty and corporate training literally and metaphorically grooming them for the big day on August 17. Under the guidance and training of experts in their fields, the girls have been on a learning curve, under fitness trainers such as Hilton’s Manish Fernando, Johann Peries, a stalwart in the beauty culture industry and corporate and PR trainers Loretta Gunewardene and Dila Hettiaratchchy.

Interview time: Voicing their views at TNL On stage

Becoming a part of this industry had always been one of Deshini Fernando’s dreams. But her interest doesn’t lie solely in designer brands and the latest styles; she is enjoying her time studying for a degree in Forensic Science and Criminology. Laughing she re-enacts her mother’s initial horror at her spending her time wanting to ‘open up dead people’ but Deshini was always passionate about her choice of study and her parents have always supported her ventures. “Whenever I tell people what I’m studying they automatically think of me as a C.S.I agent,” she adds.

Blessed with a vivacious personality, Deshini is an art enthusiast who sketches and paints and loves Greek and Roman mythology. Little wonder then that her style icon is Audrey Hepburn. For Uddima De Silva the arts played an important role in her upbringing as well but for different reasons. Born in Galle, the 26- year-old spent most of her childhood and teenage years in Italy, returning to the island at about 15 years of age. “My brother and I were very much Italian,” speaking Italian as their first language. Wanting to connect their children to their Sri Lankan heritage, aged eight, Uddima’s parents enrolled her for bharatha natyam and Kandyan dancing, which she continued throughout her growing up years even after settling back in Sri Lanka. Having studied modelling back in Italy she says the experience redefined her not only physically, but in all aspects of life. “Back there modelling isn’t just about walking properly on the ramp,” she explains, as they had to learn everything from learning to speak in public, to etiquette, attire and makeup.

Reaching a wider audience: The girls ‘live’ on TNL . Pix courtesy Jonathan’s Studio

Not every contestant has a modelling resume but that doesn’t deter Dinesha Perera who simply says they haven’t had the time to be nervous these past few days. Having graduated from the University of Sri Jayawardenapura with a degree in Accountancy and Business Management she wants to follow her lifelong dream of working in the design industry.

A self-admitted compulsive planner, 24-year-old Avanti has clearly mastered balancing her education and modelling career. Having majored in Commercial Law she hopes to complete her Masters soon. As a child Avanti would find herself glued to the TV when a fashion show came on “But my parents wanted me to finish studying first.” Currently in Australia she would be a part of Colombo Fashion Week whenever she was down on holiday, which gave her a lot of exposure to being a part of the fashion industry.

Citing Rozanne Diaz as her mentor, the one who encouraged her to take part in the competition, college student Indina Lenora is busy with a degree in business management but calls modelling her life’s calling. She started at the age of 17. Another aspiring lawyer – contestant is Fiona De Silva. Hailing from Holy Family Convent, the 24-year-old, is a second year law student. Fitness and health plays an important part of Fiona’s life, and her stoic discipline keeps her from consuming any cocoa, caffeine and carbonated drinks. Athletic since she was a child, Fiona loves to cycle and swim in her free time.

TNL’s Top Ten
1. Avanti Marianne
2. Dulanjali Mihindukulasuriya
3. Indina Lenora
4. Uddima De Silva
5. Chamodi Perera
6. Deshini Fernando
7. Dinesha Perera
8. Kalpani Karawitaarachchi
9. Tamara Makalanda
10. Fiona De Silva

Being the youngest in the competition doesn’t seem to bother 18-year-old Chamodi Perera. Having completed her A/Ls she from a very young age knew she wanted to be a part of the industry, and has modelled for two years now. She admits to having been a bundle of nerves the first day but has taken to the competition like a fish to water and feels confident and comfortable now.

Already following her passion is Tamara Makalanda. It took a single commercial on television to change her course of profession completely. “I started working at 21,” she says, having dipped her toes in several corporate fields including marketing. But a mere 30 second commercial on ‘ Save the Children ‘ grabbed her attention, and it was constantly on her mind for the next few months.

Armed with a Diploma in Childcare Tamara is now the Student Welfare Administrator at the Council for the Deaf, which has been her workplace for the past five years. Her first modelling gig came at the tender age of four in a TV commercial. Having done a few photo shoots for magazines and a couple of designers she decided to apply to the contest last year. A fitness buff, Tamara draws her athletic roots to the swimming pool where she began training competitively since the age of 6. What’s most important to her? “Preparation” she tells us.

Quite at home in the limelight Dulanjali Mihindukulasuriya’s career as a journalist, TV presenter and compere combine her twin passions; people and media. This psychology student loves travelling and spends her spare time watching TLC’s cooking shows. With a bubbly sense of humour, she is confident she can make anyone laugh in under 90 seconds.

The final of LITE FM Miss Universe Sri Lanka will be held on August 17 at the Hilton Colombo.

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