Big Dreams for Student, Beauty Queen Grace Walia
Jakarta. The last year of school is always notorious for its terrifying final examinations and big decisions that await seniors who are about to make the jump to their next phase in life. It’s a year filled with nerve-racking yet exciting moments, choices to be considered and events that could just change one’s life forever.
Such was the case for 17-year-old Grace Walia, who a few months before graduating, decided to take up the challenge of joining in the Miss India Indonesia beauty pageant, juggling her participation in the contest with her already busy academic life.
But it all paid off in February when she was named winner of the contest after completing a set of workshops, question and answer sessions, a talent performance and other evaluation phases.
These days, Grace busies herself with a range of activities, promoting both Indonesian and Indian culture in her role as Miss India Indonesia as she waits for her upcoming graduation.
The Jakarta Globe caught up with her on Wednesday to talk about her passion, future plans and how the pageant has changed her.
Q: How has life changed after winning the Miss India Indonesia beauty pageant?
A: The experiences I gained from Miss India Indonesia made a big difference on my confidence. I was able to answer questions in front of 200 people, which is a very big deal for me. I was nervous just auditioning in front of three judges before the competition, so this contest did a lot to my personality because now I know myself more, I know what I’m capable of, and I know I have a lot of potential in me.
The competition made me recognize all that, and that’s what I’m thankful for.
What was it like juggling the competition with school?
It wasn’t that difficult because it’s two different things. It’s representing the pageant and it’s, well, school. It got busy, [such as] when you had to do an event and you had to study that night. I just went through my examination to graduate high school.
What motivated you to join the pageant?
Participating in a beauty pageant like Miss India Indonesia calls for a lot of confidence, and I wanted to have that confidence. I wanted to be a woman who believes in herself and can perform on stage… so I saw this as a good opportunity for me.
What role do you think beauty pageants play in society today?
I think that they give opportunities to young women to increase their potential and show their talent.
They also give an opportunity to more women to participate in charities, to not be only beautiful on the outside but also in the inside, because beauty is what beauty does.
Some say that beauty pageants are no longer relevant and objectify women. Why do you think critics say that and what is your response to them?
I think that different people have different opinions about the pageant and why it exists, but, you know, if people do not want to participate then they don’t have to.
But there are other people out there who want to do this, there are people who want to showcase their talent and also their beauty at the same time and I think that just because there are certain groups of people who do not agree, that shouldn’t stop other women from achieving their dreams.
Both Indonesia and India are very rich in culture. What aspects of Indian and Indonesian cultures do you wish more people knew about? How would you represent these two countries?
I would represent them both by promoting the similarities that they have, like how rich they are in their culture, and the fact that both countries have different religions living within them and they have different languages as well.
Indonesia is [often] seen as an Islamic country, but it’s actually not. It’s like that in India as well. If people ask me what my religion is, I would say Hindu, but I’m actually a Sikh, which is another religion in India and I would just like to promote the fact that both countries are built from such a variety in their population.
What are your plans for after the Miss India Indonesia Worldwide competition?
I want to continue my education and be a student — if not here then maybe in Malaysia or Australia. I would like to go abroad, but I wouldn’t mind studying here either. What’s important is to be a student and go to university.
What major are you planning to take?
I’m considering psychology, because I’m very interested in learning about the human brain. I’m the kind of person who thinks a lot about certain things and I’m very observant, so when psychology as a subject was introduced to me, it seemed really interesting.
I would also like to take acting classes, so maybe I’ll try taking a double degree; in psychology because I like the subject, but because I’m into acting and modeling, I’d like to learn about that too.
What do you love the most about acting?
I think when you love something it just comes very naturally. When you find something that’s fun to you and doesn’t feel like a job, [but] feels more like a good time, I think that’s when you know where you’re supposed to be headed.
Acting isn’t as easy as it looks but once I do it properly and once I find my way, it just exhilarates me; it’s incredible for me.
What’s one cause you’re most passionate about?
Since I started school I’ve been very passionate about animal abuse and also violence against women. I’m very passionate about a lot of things but I think those two really have a big effect on me. Because I’ve seen abuse toward animal and I think that needs to stop.
Violence against women is one of the most terrible things going on in this world and if I could make a difference, I would.
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Source: The Jakarta Globe