Meet Manya Singh: The beauty queen who struggled with her English and then went on to be Femina Miss India runner up!
“People like us don’t even dream, and you’re thinking of Miss India crown?!”
That was the reaction Manya’s parents had when Manya wanted to apply for the beauty pageant.
Speaking about her father in a magazine interview, Manya says…
“My father would always tell me there are more heels in my bag than books!”
But that never stopped Manya from dreaming big.
As a daughter of an auto driver, Manya had to struggle to be where she is today. Working in a pizza outlet, washing the dishes there, cleaning the floor…. Manya has done it all!
Staying in a small village in Uttar Pradesh, Manya had to struggle even to get her basic education.
At one time, her mother even had to sell her silver anklet to be able to afford the fees.
“At 14, I saw girls around me enjoying their life, wearing good clothes, attending school. But my life was not like that.”
Despite this, Manya still had big dreams. And she felt that she may not be able to achieve them by staying back in the village.
So Manya ran away from her home. She took the train from Gorakhpur and came to Mumbai – the place where she believed she could achieve her dreams.
Naturally, her parents were worried. But decided to follow their daughter to Mumbai, when she called them. This was the start of her struggle….
In Mumbai, Manya’s father started driving an auto to support the family.
As she didn’t have enough money, Manya got a job at a Pizza outlet, which helped her complete her junior college. While working there, she observed how the customers carried themselves…The way they spoke, the way they wore clothes, and the way they behaved. This experience was a big learning for her.
Simultaneously, she was also smart enough to then join a call center and study for her graduation in banking and insurance.
During her graduation, Manya auditioned for more than 10 pageants but there too it was another struggle. She had to hear discouraging comments like, “You don’t even know English!”
There are a lot of girls like Manya…who have the potential to make it big but struggle only because they are not fluent in English. Not being comfortable in English impacts their confidence. Today there are many free courses available that help women improve their English. All one needs to do is have confidence in oneself and not give up.
And this is exactly what Manya did. She did not let the negative comments of people affect her.
Remembering her struggle Manya says,
“Whenever I lost hope, I used to tell myself - Doh kadam aur Manya, Doh kadam aur. Life was harder on me, but I was harder on my life.”
She worked on her English. Observed how her friends in college spoke. She worked hard. And then she tried again. She applied for the Miss India beauty pageant in December 2020.
Due to the Covid pandemic, Manya gave all her interviews online. From her 10 feet by 10 feet room in a Mumbai slum. And 2 months later she was declared Femina Miss India 2020 Runner Up!”
It is girls like Manya who not only make their parents proud but also set examples for generations of women – showing them that nothing is impossible with hard work and determination.