We’re excited it’s that time of the year again when we get to introduce you to the contestants of Miss Universe Australia. We’re kicking off our eighth year of finalist interviews with Priya Serrao from Victoria, one of the twenty-eight talented, and inspiring contestants from all walks of life who are vying for the title of Miss Universe Australia 2019.
So Priya, why don’t you tell us about yourself?
I work full-time as a Policy Adviser with the Victorian government. I have an Arts and a Law degree under my belt, and will be admitted to the Supreme Court as a lawyer later this year. I love hiking and playing team sports like Basketball in my spare time or getting stuck into a good mystery novel.
What would you say was your motivation for entering Miss Universe Australia?
One of the main reasons I entered Miss Universe Australia was because the titleholder has an opportunity to advocate on issues to a large, global audience. As my family migrated to Australia, I am an avid supporter of diversity in our society whether it be in media, politics or business. I sincerely believe a diverse cohort of decision-makers creates a more equitable society, and I would love to use the platform to work more tangibly with local organizations that raise awareness about inclusion, identity and privilege.
The program is certainly full of amazing experiences in the lead-up to finals, You’ve just returned from the National Finalist Trip to Bali staying at the sensational Alila Hotels. How was this experience?
The Bali trip was amazing! We stayed at Alila Uluwatu, Alila Manggis and Alila Seminyak and each of these locations were uniquely beautiful. I felt absolutely spoilt with our gorgeous rooms, spectacular ocean views, early morning yoga and Nutella croissants for breakfast! The generosity and kindness of everyone I met made the trip particularly special, and I will definitely be going back for a visit.
The Bali Trip is a combination of finals boot camp, personal development and team bonding exercise with a tropical escape thrown in for good measure, what would you say are some of the best things you’ll take away from the trip?
There are two main things I’ve taken away from the trip: The first was the level of camaraderie amongst the girls involved, which was so encouraging and created a great atmosphere for some new friendships ?
The second was the swimwear shoot – I remember being so nervous because I hadn’t done anything like it before and didn’t know what to expect but I had absolutely nothing to be worried about. The Pinktank team developed a theme and mood board for each of us (including the jewellery/swimsuit and the location we would shoot in) which ensured each of the photos were unique and complemented our look and personalities. Jarrad Seng is such a legend and we all of us felt so comfortable with him behind the camera. The hair team were incredible (Caterina, Michael and Renee) – I had two sets of extensions on my head to create a ‘jungle’ vibe to match my theme and it took them close to an hour to crimp and style all of that hair. Our makeup ‘team’ was made up of one person – Alarna – who created absolute magic on my face in no time at all. I loved the experience and was buzzing
So now you’re home and, winter has set in and the finals are only just around the corner, how are you feeling in the leadup to Melbourne and what sort of preparation are you doing before finals week?
I am excited to see everyone again! But I’m also a little sad that all of this will be over so soon. As preparation in the lead up to finals week I have been spending time at F45 and doing Lagree at K-kore in Melbourne (i.e. Pilates on steroids), which has been keeping me feeling fit but also helping me relax! I also have the biggest sweet tooth, so I have been trying to make healthier choices…. some might say I’m trying and failing, but I like to stay optimistic.
With so many of you all bringing an individual flair to the competition, what do you think sets you apart from the other contestants?
One of the greatest experiences for me in participating in the competition has been the opportunity to explore and share my identity and my values. As an Indian-Australia who has also lived in the Middle East, I am proud to live in such an incredible melting pot of diverse cultures, and my experiences allow me to bring a different perspective and speak to many Australians who share multicultural identities. Another aspect is that, unlike the majority of the other participants, I don’t have previous modelling experience and am new to having a presence on social media! So it has been an exciting journey for me and I honestly believe it’s been a benefit, as I can’t help but approach all the opportunities with a new and different perspective.
Your next question comes from Simon Ross of Minespec Parts How much of a deciding factor for entering this year, was the Minespec Parts Grant of $20,000 to put towards your education or business startup?
I did a lot of research before deciding to participate in this program and this grant was definitely a big deciding factor for me. Both my work and my studies have shown me how much impact small businesses can have on a community, and also how knowledge from education can be the difference between having an idea and being able to bring that idea to life! So knowing that there is a chance I could pursue an idea that would help others, and having an impact that could grow into something bigger than myself, was definitely one of the reasons I wanted to participate in the competition.
And if you were lucky enough to receive the grant, what would you spend it on and why?
Initially, my plan was to use the grant to create a social enterprise startup that would employ people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and directly provide employment and economic opportunities for people in our community. After doing my research, I realised that I might be biting off more than I could chew at this point in time, although it is definitely something I would love to do in the future! If I was lucky enough to receive the grant, I would put the grant towards my education – because my education has provided with incredible opportunities and skills and is currently (and will continue to) helping me contribute back to society in meaningful ways.
What is something people might find interesting about yourself?
I was born in India and lived in the Middle East (Oman and the United Arab Emirates) with my family, before moving to Australia at the age of 11.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you or someone you know recently?
On my suggestion, my boyfriend and I drove close to 4 hours to hike up the second-highest mountain in Victoria over the Queen’s birthday long weekend. Unfortunately, I hadn’t realised that the entire area would be covered in snow in winter and overrun with skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts! We were definitely not prepared to hike 7 hours in snow, so we ended up having a snowball fight and driving straight back to our AirBnB. It’s funnier in hindsight!
As a child, what did you think would be awesome about being an adult, but isn’t as awesome as you thought it would be?
I remember being in school and really wanting to go to university, because it meant I didn’t have to wear a uniform every day and could creatively come up with cool outfits. Now that I’ve started working, I can wear whatever I want but usually cannot be bothered thinking creatively at 6am every morning – so I pretty much wear the same thing every day!
Minespec Parts are proud to be the presenting sponsor for Miss Universe Australia, Working to empower and support women not just through the Miss Universe Australia pageant and their $20k education and business grant, but through many platforms with various activities across Australia all furthering and supporting women in the workplace.