Liva Miss Diva 2021 first runner-up Sonal Kukreja wants to use the Indian pageant as a platform to enable financial independence in women and not as a springboard to launch a Bollywood career.
"I define beauty as the courage in your heart, the truth in your words and the relentless drive to make a difference," said the 23-year-old.
"Through this platform, I want to fulfil my mission of transforming the financial landscape of India by enabling awareness and opportunities for women to be financially independent.
"With financial independence, comes the ability to make choices and take charge of your life."
The Jaipur girl, who made it to the final round of the pageant earlier this month, pointed out that "the journey for me was never about winning the crown".
"Perhaps it was about challenging myself to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations, accepting myself the way I am and the way I am not and, most importantly, amplifying my message that beauty is more than what catches the eye," she said.
"So, let's stop letting our inhibitions thwart our idea of reality and let's all go on being the best versions of ourselves.
"I knew my goals and I just surrendered myself to the process."
Sonal said she would give acting a shot if an opportunity comes her way, but it is not going to be her priority.
"Pageants give you a platform but I don't necessarily see that as a gateway into Bollywood," she said. "Acting requires a whole different skillset than what you need in pageantry.
"I'm someone who never wants to leave any rocks unturned. So, if an opportunity comes my way, I would love to explore it. But, for now, I want to continue my mission of empowering women to create the life of their dreams."
Sonal was born in Delhi and moved to Jaipur at the age of 10. She moved to the United States at 17, where she completed her bachelor's degree in marketing and digital media trends and analytics and worked in marketing communications.
She is also the co-founder of crypto financial institution Unicas and is currently working as the vice-president of marketing and partnerships at the start-up.
To participate in the pageant, she had to balance her work and immerse herself in multitasking.
She recalled finishing e-mails and assigning tasks while getting her hair and makeup done early in the morning for the contest.
"Being an entrepreneur in the fintech industry, I never thought pageantry was for me," said Sonal.
"I wasn't the perfect-looking girl. Neither did I have a background in modelling nor did I want to be an actor.
"Little did I know that pageantry is not just about beauty that catches the eye but it's about empowering women to become the best version of themselves and inspire other women to embrace femininity, sisterhood and individuality."
Indo-Asian News Service