Tue, 07 Jul 2020
A NEWBURY teenager has made it through to the semi-finals of Miss England 2020.
Rysa Saujani, a pupil at St Gabriel’s School, said she was “shocked” after organisers contacted her out of the blue and asked if she wanted to enter the beauty pageant as a wildcard.
At just 16 years of age, the actor and model – who has appeared in a number of films, television shows and commercials – is one of the youngest entrants in the competition.
As the wildcard, Rysa skipped the qualifying stage and went straight through to the semi-finals, where she will go head-to-head with 34 other women from around the UK hoping to be crowned Miss England.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, she said: “It’s just crazy and I’m still trying to get my head around it.
“My mum emailed them ages ago and we had completely forgotten about it until they got in touch out of the blue last week asking if I would like to be the wildcard entry.
“It is so unreal. It is an amazing experience to be able to do something like this and I am very grateful.
“The main reason I said yes is because the pageant industry has changed a lot for the better over the years.
“It used to just be whoever is prettiest and looks the best wins, but there is so much more to it now.
“I see it as a platform to create change and speak out about the issues I feel strongly about.
“There’s so much going on in the world at the moment, it has never been more important to speak about these issues.
“One issue I feel really strongly about is mental health and how social media can have a huge impact on it.
“Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with people, but it can also be incredibly toxic and damaging to people’s mental health.
“What you see on social media is just a snapshot of people’s lives – it is not reality.
“It is just the stuff they want you to see to make it look like their life is perfect.
“It gives people unrealistic expectations about what their life should be.”
In 2018, Rysa played a starring role in a series about controversial Bollywood star Sunny Leone.
She hit the headlines and gained plaudits around the world for her portrayal of the younger version of Leone, who is the ‘most Googled’ woman in India.
Leone’s former career as an adult film industry actress and her reluctance to conform to cultural norms has gained her millions of fans and followers, but has also sparked protests and created controversy.
Rysa also starred in the 2017 Bollywood film Dobaara: See Your Evil, an official adaptation of the 2013 American horror film Oculus.
Like many other events, the Miss England contest was forced to cancel a series of events scheduled to be held between March and June due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The semi-final was due to take place at Kelham Hall & Country Park on June 8, but due to social distancing and lockdown restrictions, this was not possible.
The contest will now be held virtually for the first time in the competition’s history.
The semi-finals of Miss England will be live streamed via video link at www.missengland.info/qualifiers/semi-final/#tab-livestream on Friday, July 31, at 7pm and will cost £7.99 to watch.
You can vote for Rysa by taking the following steps:
The contestant with the most views will be the winner of the public vote and be fast-tracked through to the Miss England National Final.