BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA:Atlanta’s recent crowing glory, Pranathy Ganagaraju is currently in preparation for the big show. She was crowned Miss India USA 2014 in a glittering function organized on December 14 at the Royal Albert’s Palace, Fords, New Jersey. The 33rd annual Miss India USA pageant, also the oldest running Indian pageant outside of India, was organized by the New York-based IFC.
Pranathy, 19, will represent USA in the 24th annual Miss India Worldwide Pageant, also organized by IFC, to be held in Goa,India in September 2015.
Pranthy talks to NRI Pulse about her experience at the pageants and her preparations for the big one in September.
You are currently studying at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Los Angeles, whose notable alumni includes the likes of Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, India’s heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor, to name a few. Tell us about the experience at the institute.
It is a great learning experience. Studying acting at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute is not an easy task for me, but has been invaluable in improving my acting skills.
Did you always know that you wanted to be an actor? Who in the industry is your inspiration?
Acting has always been a passion for me. But the question was- should it be a professional career. Seeing Meryl Streep, Sri Devi and Madhuri Dixit on screen inspired me to become an actress because each of them had their own individuality and unique way of portraying characters. I see this career as being unique and different and I am not afraid of trying.
Tell us about your family.
My family is my number one support system. My father is a software engineer/businessman, my mother is a housewife, and my brother is finishing his education. My family is very supportive, but at the same time they are very protective towards each other and of me. Being part of a family that cares for and encourages each other is what makes us inseparable.
Tell us about your interests, hobbies.
My interests are dancing, acting, singing and my hobbies are reading, writing, swimming, and learning different languages.
Tell us about your about your experience of beauty contests in general. How does it make you feel to be part of them and how does it feel to be a winner?
My experiences in beauty contests were filled with ups and downs. While participating in contests I have gained a great amount of self- confidence and learned a lot about my inner strengths. I would say participating in beauty contests really brings out the competitive spirit. From my first pageant in 2013 to Miss India USA 2014 I have noticed that I have become aware of staying true to myself and showcasing the most unique side of me. Now that I have won Miss India USA 2014 the feeling of winning is extremely exciting, but there is much more to prove and it’s not only about enjoying the victory, it’s also about having the responsibility of maintaining the title.
What has been the most gratifying and the most horrifying experience at the pageants so far?
The most gratifying experience is meeting new people and managing to stay motivated by having a wonderful support system. The most horrifying experience for me would have to be maintaining the confidence because there will be girls who will try to make you feel insecure and break your self esteem, and once that happens there is a huge impact during the actual day of the pageant. It has happened to me before, but it made me realize that it’s important to focus on my work and stay humble throughout the competition because the most important quality of a women is being humble at the right time and being fearless/diplomatic at the scariest of situations.
You will be representing USA in the Miss India Worldwide Pageant, to be held in Goa. Tell us about the preparations.
Right now there is nothing much to say about the preparations. I don’t want to give out too much information, but I would say the preparations are going to be intense.
What life lessons did you take away from the numerous contests you have participated?
As clichéd as it might sound, the biggest life lesson I have learned is to really believe in myself. I know every girl has struggled in this area because society in general loves to ridicule outer appearances and I used to take criticism to heart. At the end of the day, however, your confidence and self esteem all begins within yourself. Like Marilyn Monroe once said, “Always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, Sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”
What is your message to youth who aspire to be in the glamour industry, South Asians in particular?
I believe talent is the strongest asset for any contender who wants to enter the industry. Be original and focus on your individuality.