Surreal would be an understatement to describe Manya Singh’s journey to fame, but the praise is certainly not undeserved. She has been hitting the news headlines after being crowned with the prestigious VLCC Femina Miss India 2020 runner-up title. All her auditions were online, from the comfort of her modest Mumbai home. Her father is an auto-rickshaw driver and her mother a working hairstylist. Their struggles inspired her journey in the runway world and now she looks to stir young girls like her to follow suit.
“Modelling was never an option for me. I entered the fashion world because I wanted to groom myself. At the same time, I was well aware that I would not be able to afford the grooming classes. Learning happened by observing people and going for auditions. I knew that if I could work on my body language and personality and carry myself like models do, the Miss India pageant could be cracked," says Manya, 19, summing up her short yet significant journey of struggle.
Self admittedly, Manya had no plan B going into the modelling world and that pushed her during the Miss India campaign. “I always had confidence and belief in my hard work. At the time of the finale, I said to myself ‘you have to perform whole-heartedly and leave the rest to the judges’. When I went on the ramp, I knew it was going to be the last runway, the last show of my life. And I performed keeping that in mind."
So what inspires UP girl Manya to continue shining bright in the modelling world? She says, “My life and my family have been my biggest motivators. My mother works really hard for me. She travels long distances in the local train. The job takes up nine hours of her day and when she comes back home, the chores keep her busy. Still, she is like a friend to me. She has been giving me all sorts of advice at different turns in my career. I learn how to remain grounded from her. I have learnt honesty and passion from my father. So whenever I am stuck in life, I go back and recollect whatever life has taught me, and I move ahead."
Manya ditched her simple life and roots and decided on modelling as her career. Not many in her place dare to dream big. She says her journey will inspire others now.
“I hope to be able to make worth of the Miss India crown. It is a huge responsibility. I want to use my voice to raise the awareness that each and every girl deserves the best. I want to make them realise that they can achieve anything. All they need to do is believe in themselves and then no one can stop them. I know that people will look up to me in the future. I want to leave a legacy behind so that they all say ‘if Manya can do, so can I’."
She is also enamoured by Bollywood. “Going forward, I am trying to enjoy each and every moment. Bollywood is a dream. I love watching movies and TV series. Whatever opportunity comes my way, I will take it up."
Being a model, does Manya have body image fears? She talks about accepting oneself, saying, “Modelling requires fitness. Every profession has a different requirement and everyone, man or a woman, has to work accordingly. If you have bigger dreams then excuses don’t work. People have their own perceptions when it comes to appearance but you should know what you deserve. Then complaining is never an option."