Sri Lanka emerged victorious at the recently held Miss Asia 2018 beauty pageant which took place at the Gokulam Convention Centre in Kaloor, Kochi. Twenty five beauties from across the Asian and Eurasian regions participated, including Sri Lanka. Luckily, Sri Lanka was represented this year by Chalani Rathnayaka, who was crowned 2nd runner-up. This is no doubt a great achievement for her and for our country.
The Miss Asia pageant works to encourage young women from these regions to come forward and compete for the coveted crown whilst showcasing to the entire world their many abilities and talents whilst also letting their beauty and confidence shine in the process. Chalani sure did shine on all these levels and we, at Elegant wanted to find out more about her experience, the effort it took to reach that level and of course, her future plans now that she’s part of the Top 3 from Miss Asia 2018.
- Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is S. D. Chalani Rathnayaka and I am a past pupil of Ibbagamuwa Central College, Kurunegala. I am an AAT passed finalist – Chartered Accountancy Level 2. I also have a Diploma in Fashion Design from Raffles Colombo.
- Did you dream of becoming a beauty queen from a younger age or was this something that evolved recently?
I wouldn’t exactly say that it was a childhood dream. But, after I found myself being absorbed to the industry and got introduced to the world of pageantry, it really got my attention and so, I decided to go for it. I began taking part in pageants in Sri Lanka where I won three mini titles. It eventually turned into a goal and I felt even more competitive and wanted to take part in more pageants. To me, pageants make me happy as I love the experience and exposure it brings. So, here I am!
- What attributes do you think got you to stand out from the other ladies at the pageant?
I believe it was my personality and for simply, being myself. Those days were among the best days of my life and I enjoyed every moment of it. I danced during their many festivals and events and I’m also a huge fan of Indian music, so I was definitely able to relate with them on those levels and I simply, had a lot of fun. That gave me the energy to show off my true personality instead of pretending to be someone I’m not. So, I think that characteristic shone bright and emphasized me as a person from the others. Stay true to yourself. I believe in that a lot.
- What does it mean, for you, to have been crowned 2nd runner-up?
It means the world to me. Words alone cannot explain it. Having found myself on such a global platform surrounded by other beautiful ladies meant that competition was tough but the moment my name was called, that alone was overwhelming and I am grateful for this opportunity.
- Does this status come with any roles for you to fulfil? In what way would you need to stand in support with Miss Asia 2018?
Miss Asia is not focused on the aspect of beauty alone though it no doubt is a strong factor. The pageant strongly believes in the context of action rather than words. So, the pageant included a charity campaign before the finale took place where we engaged in activities such as selling watches to the public to help raise funds. These funds went to destitute people with heart conditions who were in need of surgery. So, having got the opportunity to give back in the process was truly, very fulfilling.
Following my placement as 2nd runner-up, I pledged a share of my pageant gift to the same charity foundation that was involved in the campaign. So, this pageant shows one thing for sure; that they walk their talk! So, I would be continuing my charity work together with support from the Miss Asia team as well as everyone who is around me and who is willing to lend a hand.
- What challenges did you face at your latest pageant and how did you overcome them, if any?
Well, apart from the 24 beautiful challenges that I had in the form of the contestants, of course, it was the biggest challenge yet, highlighting yourself from the others. But, as I had mentioned earlier, staying true to myself definitely helped me a lot. Apart from that, we did have communication issues amongst each other and language barriers and we had to end up using Google Translate to communicate with each other!
- As someone who is constantly in the public eye, what type of beauty routine do you adhere to?
One can engage in activities such as working out, drinking lots of water, doing yoga and maintaining a healthy diet. I do these things in moderation. But, I believe that beauty is skin deep and being beautiful inside counts a lot. It reflects through your face, your smile. And if that doesn’t happen, then no matter what you do to look better would only be a waste. So, for example, when you smile, do it from the bottom of your heart. It’s that simple.
- Other than having competed for a beauty pageant, what other ambitions do you have?
I hope to launch my own designer brand one day. That has always been a big dream of mine and it is one that I am currently working on.
- What types of attributes or qualities did this pageant in particular have? What is different about the Miss Asia when compared with other international pageants?
What I loved the most about this pageant in particular was the way they treated us, the contestants. They wanted us to have the best stay ever, which of course, we had. The organizers were very professional and transparent. There was even an instance where they got one family member of each contestant to sit with them and witness how they tally the marks we secure.
The event’s Director, Mr. Ajit Ravi was also very influential and active in the proceedings with us. And he used to tell us, “I don’t want you all to say that I would do this and that. I want to see you doing it. So do it.” This was one way in which they focused on their aim of ‘walking the talk’ as I mentioned earlier. So, the whole experience was once again, so worth it and I am glad I got to be a part of this.
- When you were selected to represent Sri Lanka at the pageant, how did you begin preparing for it?
I engaged in all the usual things a contestant would get into, such as working out at the gym, taking in healthy meals and grooming. But, one main thing I focused a little extra on was when it came to answering their questions. I began watching every episode of previous Miss Asia pageants. I also sought advice from individuals who had experienced the pageant beforehand and updated myself. I then worked on planning my attire, learnt to do different hairstyles, applying my own make-up and such similar things.
- Who would you say is behind your success thus far?
My parents, especially my father. He always believed in me and has supported me in my decisions. He is no doubt the one and only silent support behind me and if it wasn’t for him, then I wouldn’t be giving you this interview today. I also am very grateful for Brian Kerkoven, who is my National Director and was instrumental in nominating me for the pageant. He was also behind my improvement and career choice. I am so blessed to know him and have him in my life.
I also need to extend my heartfelt gratitude and thank many people who supported me, whether it was through action or word. I would like to thank Kamil Hewavitharana, Serieen Slemmarman, Michael Wijesooriya, Hiran Wijesekara, Lucky Susil, Chathuranga Hulangamuwa, Diligenz and Hi Life Clothing Outlets as well as my teachers who helped build my vision and confidence. I credit my achievements to all of them.
- What advice would you give for other aspiring young ladies such as yourself, who would be interested in taking part in a pageant one day?
My advice would be to get into the world of pageantry with the right attitude and thorough preparation. Being pretty or beautiful enough will not suffice. You should take on board the grace, elegance and aptitude of a Queen. A Queen is there to make a change, help people and motivate others. A Queen understands friendship and being kind to others around you as well as facing rejection and failure elegantly.
So, just like that, you should be able to handle criticism and come with an understanding that you may not be able to win everything, so handle it with grace. Work on embracing an experience and a lifetime of friendships that you will forge along the way. Never give up. Be open and grab every opportunity that comes your way. I have gone through many rejections and failures, but I keep on going.
- Hobbies – Watching movies, travelling and designing.
- Favourite cuisine/food – Any type of food. I am a big foodie.
- Most favoured type of clothing to wear – Anything that is comfortable and suits my body.
- Favourite designer, local or foreign – Me! Chalani Rathnayaka. I always know what to choose and know what I love, for myself.
- Favourite country for a holiday – Anywhere as long as there is greenery and natural beauty around to feast the eyes.
- Height, eye and hair colours –
Height – 5’6”
Eyes – Black
Hair – Black & Brown
- Zodiac sign – Capricorn
- Your talents – Poetry writing. Oh, and I can eat…a lot, though I purposely try to control it!
- Likes – That would be a really long list!
- Dislikes – Being cheated on.
Text compiled and edited by Sara Pathirana
Designs By: Kamil Hewavitharana and Ridma
MUA: Meraki by Sumi and Serieen Slemmarman