Suman Ratansingh Rao of India is a definite frontrunner at the 2019 Miss World pageant. She has finished in the Top 10 in three preliminary competitions — the Top Model preliminary, the Beauty With a Purpose philanthropic preliminary, and the head-to-head interview preliminary, where she defeated Miss Bangladesh Rafah Nanjeba Torsa in the final round.
Here’s what you need to know about Suman, who will vie for the Miss World title on Saturday, Dec. 14, in London.
1. Suman is An Accounting Student
This 20-year-old Miss World contestant has been studying chartered accountancy at Mumbai University. A Chartered Accountant is basically the international version of a Certified Public Accountant in the United States.
Rao was born in Rajsamand, a town of about a million people located in the Rajasthan state in northern India, but her family moved to Mumbai when she was little. She has two brothers, Jitendra and Chirag, and she says in her Miss World profile that her greatest achievement was being able to pay for their college tuition.
She told the Times of India in a recent interview that her mother was not allowed to further her education past middle school, so furthering her own education is very important to her.
“[My mother] knew the impact education could have in the life of a girl child. She knew what it meant to empower women — my mother is the reason I have achieved what I have today,” says Suman. “That is why issues like gender equality and women empowerment are so close to me and will remain the focus of my life.”
2. She’s an Accomplished Fashion Model
Standing 5’10”, Rao is a successful model in India, having walked in Lakme fashion week and worked with designer Manish Malhotra. During the Miss India World competition in June, she not only won the crown but also the “Miss Rampwalk” award.
At the 2019 Miss World, Rao made the Top 10 for the modeling preliminary, which had the contestants walking in a runway show sporting the dresses of renowned British designer Zandra Rhodes to commemorate 50 years of her designs at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London.
Rao can often be seen modeling fashions by Indian designer Amit Aggarwal on her Instagram. Aggarwal’s brand is about “the transformation of architecture, structure and fantasy into fashion.”
3. Suman Speaks Three Languages
This accomplished young woman is fluent in Hindi, English and Mewari, one of the major Indo-Aryan dialects that is spoken largely in the Rajasthan state of India, which is where her family is from.
“I belong to Rajasthan, so whenever I come here, I feel connected to my roots,” she tells the Times of India. “We talk in Mewari and celebrate Rajasthani festivals. Everything in our home reminds us of our roots — be it the dialect, the food or our lifestyle.”
She also tells the Times that her biggest inspiration is Hima Das, a sprinter from northern India who “came from nowhere” to win “so many gold medals.”
“The stories of her struggles and achievements really inspire me.”
4. She Loves to Dance
For her Miss World 2019 talent, Suman performed a dance that she dedicated to Priyanka Chopra, Miss World India who won the Miss World crown in 2000.
“This dance sequence is a tribute to Priyanka Chopra, Miss World 2000. I chose this medley because it truly represents why Priyanka continues to inspire women across the world today with her voice and continuing campaigning for social issues. An example of how the work of a Miss World is never done,” says Suman.
The dance was a combination of Kathak, a classical Indian dance of storytelling that uses rhythmic foot movements, small bells called ghungroo, and a story told through arm gestures and upper body movements, bends and turns, and contemporary Bollywood, making for a “mixture of old and new.”
5. Suman is Passionate About Project Pragati
One of the highest honors a Miss World contestant can receive is being recognized for her Beauty With a Purpose initiative. This non-profit organization works with the Miss World organization to support charities and humanitarian projects worldwide.
During the Miss World competition, some of the quarterfinalists are selected based on working with the most relevant and important charity projects in their home country.
In 2019, Suman finished in the Top 10 for Beauty With a Purpose because of her work with “Project Pragati,” which helps underprivileged women in her community achieve financial independence. The project helped started several businesses like making soaps and creams or assembling decorative handicrafts and jewelry, in villages where women don’t otherwise have such opportunities. The wares are sold in a nearby market and online.