She’s being called an “arab”, “Al-Qeada”, “Miss 7-11” and a host of other inappropriate or incorrect remarks, but that’s not stopping the new Miss America 2014 from embarking on her reign with vigor. In fact, Nina Davuluri, the first Miss America of Indian-descent, is embracing her new found role commenting, “I have to rise above that. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”
Davuluri, 24, is from Syracuse New York and is born to Telegu parents. She is 5 foot 7 inches and is studying to be a cardiologist. (Her father is a gynecologist.) She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Brain Behavior and Cognitive Science. As a child, she studied Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dance, which she went on to perform as her talent for the pageant.
“It’s the first time Bollywood has ever been performed on the Miss America stage and it’s such an honor for myself, my family and the Indian community, as well,” the pageant winner added.
Interestingly enough, with regard to reaction in India, Mallika Rao of the Huffington Post notes that, “there was an unfortunate irony to the win, noted mostly by Indian and Indian-American writers. Davuluri is dark-skinned. In India, where skin color is a national obsession, you likely wouldn’t see someone of her complexion in a pageant, much less winning one.”
She is taking her first few days as Miss America (and the ensuing backlash) with the same grace she has shown of stage…a perfect 10.