A day out with the beauties

Dhananjani Silva catches up with the 12 finalists of the Avirate Miss Universe Sri Lanka 2011 pageant as they spread a little sunshine at a children’s orphanage between photo shoots and rehearsals

Running around for make-up and grooming sessions, catwalk training, social etiquette sessions, communication training and frequent visits to the gym are all part of the hectic schedule for the top 12 finalists of the Avirate Miss Universe Sri Lanka 2011 pageant.… for whom the moment of reckoning is close at hand with the grand finale just a day away.

The contestants who have made it to the finals are: Noshin De Silva, Lakshika Thilakarathne, Hiranthi Warusevitane, Gayesha Perera, Deena Tissera, Anupama Wanaguru, Marliese Liyanage, Dilrufa Shanaz, Hirunika Eranjali, Angela Jayatissa, Wasana Senadhipathira and Stephanie Siriwardhana.

The mini pageants such as Miss Body Beautiful, Miss Personality and Miss Photogenic have been already conducted and winners will be announced at the grand finale at Hilton Colombo tomorrow, July 11.

As part of their activities connected to the beauty pageant, the girls visited an orphanage in Mount Lavinia on July 2. The beauties together with JAT Holdings, an importer of environmentally friendly furniture lacquers to Sri Lanka, initiated a CSR project to add a little colour to the lives of these children. They brightened up the home with several activities including music, dancing and painting together with the children and subsequent to this JAT Holdings undertook to paint and refurbish an identified orphanage for an entire year.

Contestant Stephanie Siriwardhana said the orphanage tour was a great experience for her. Stephanie who is passionate about children said she would like to set up a foundation that works with children. The pageant, she says, turned out to be a great learning experience. “If I do win, I will be playing the role of an ambassador. So I am brushing up my knowledge of the country. Apart from that I’ve been going to the gym like crazy; I am a person who loves to eat chocolates but I have been cutting down on all that,” Stepahanie adds with a laugh.

Gayesha Perera says with the previous experience she has had in taking part in beauty pageants- Miss Sri Lanka for Miss International and Miss Tourism Queen International, she is confident about her chances.

Hirunika Eranjali says winning the crown is her ambition but at the same time she is happy to have made it to the top 12 beating about 40 contestants from preliminary rounds. Her next target is getting into the top five. “Let’s see how it goes from there,” she says with a smile.

An excited Noshin De Silva says she can’t wait for the pageant’s finale. “I am more excited than nervous about the final show. I learnt so many things; I know my best angle for a photoshoot, and my stage fright has disappeared. With all the training we have got I think we are prepared enough to go to the international level to represent our country,” she said.

According to Marliese Liyanage, the tension of the final has not set in yet because she is having such a great time with her fellow participants. “The best will win, but I am confident -it is all about doing your best,” she says adding that she sees winning the title as an opportunity to serve the country and empower women.

Wasana Senadhipathira who is a model by profession says if she wins the title she hopes to give something back to the industry as well as do charity work.

Dilrufa Shanaz who has also taken part in beauty pageants previously says the nervousness she felt initially has disappeared, thanks to the wonderful training she has received from Brian (Kerkoven). “It is so easy to work with him, and I feel very confident this time,” she says. One of the highlights for her was the opportunity that she got to put a smile on the faces of the children of the orphanage, she added.
Lakshika Thilakarathne expressing her views said all 12 contestants are in a good position in terms of beauty, intelligence, confidence etc. “We are all talented and beautiful in different ways which is why we made it to the finals; I believe I too have the ability to do something unique,” she said.

Hiranthi Warusevitane, having taken part in beauty pageants before, is confident about facing the judges and interviews. “Nothing is new to me but any training and practice add up to making you perfect,” she says.

Angela Jayatissa says the pageant is an excellent stepping stone. “Last time I joined the pageant just for the fun of it but this time I realised you can do so many things by winning the pageant,” she said adding that former beauty queens like Rozanne Dias, Jacqueline Fernandez and Rosy Senanayake have been an inspiration.

Deena Tissera considers the pageant as a once in a life time opportunity and a great experience. “I will take all the little things that I learnt here – the little mistakes I was unaware of.Life is all about adjusting and adapting,” she says adding that the grand finale she would consider as a big day – as important as a wedding day.

Anupama Wanaguru says the past few days have been strenuous with constant rehearsals but it has also been an enjoyable learning experience. “It feels so good to be with the girls and to have faced the mini pageants. And Brian keeps us all happy,” she added.

Pix by J. Weerasekera and Mangala Weerasekera

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