Nina Davuluri

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Nina Davuluri
Nina Davuluri: Miss America Nina Davuluri celebrates win with barefoot frolic in Atlantic City surf

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Nina Davuluri

Nina Davuluri
Nina Davuluri was advised not to perform an Indian dance for the crown; she ignored it
Nina Davuluri

By Carol Ann Benanti/Staten Island Advance Silive

By Chidanand Rajghatta The Times of India Sep 17, 2013

By Josh Duboff VanityFair

By M N Samdani The Times of India Sep 17, 2013

Laura Argintar EliteDaily


The Sydney Morning Herald






The Sept 2013 pageant and triumph

Contestants were judged on the basis of evening gowns, lifestyle/ fitness, talent, a personal interview and a live on-stage question. Davuluri was asked about the wisdom of a TV anchor getting plastic surgery on her eyes. She said she's against plastic surgery, but people should make their own choice and be confident in their appearances.

Judge Carla Hall, one of the hosts of The Chew, asked Davuluri about Julie Chen’s recent admission that she had plastic surgery to make her eyes look “less Asian.” “What message does this send to young women?” Hall asked.

Davuluri was predictably diplomatic in her answer: “I don’t agree with plastic surgery, however I can understand that from a standpoint. More importantly I’ve always viewed Miss America as the girl next door. , and the girl next door is evolving as diversity in America evolves. Miss America is always evolving. She’s not who she was ten years ago, and she’s not going to be the same person come ten years down the road . . I wouldn’t want to change someone’s looks. Be confident in who you are.”

For the talent part, she chose a classical Bollywood fusion dance piece, capitalizing on her formal training in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. Our new Miss America Worked With Famous “So You Think You Can Dance” Choreographer.

Her outstanding, high-energy Bollywood talent performance last night really bolstered Nina’s overall score. She proved she has genuine rhythm and moves. In addition to her formal training in Indian dance for fifteen years, Davuluri also flew to Los Angeles to work with Nakul Dev Mahajan, a choreographer on the “So You Think You Can Dance” television show. The result was her jaw-dropping Bollywood routine.

She had reportedly been “discouraged” from performing such a dance, as the [New York?] Post says she was told “she’d never win,” as it was “too foreign.”

But the Indian film dance did not happen at once.

Miss New York Nina Davuluri apparently got a bit confused on Sunday night, but that didn't keep her from winning the Miss America contest in Atlantic City.

The 24-year-old New Yorker won the title despite awkwardly missing her cue earlier in the evening.

When host Lara Spencer called her name for the talent section of the competition, Davuluri distractedly applauded for herself.

"Next up for talent is Miss New York," Spencer prompted. Davuluri continued applauding, so another contestant hopped up and ran forward instead.

Spencer again declared, "Miss New York, you are up... Miss New York, you are up!"

She managed to compose herself and went on to perform a Bollywood fusion dance.

For the talent portion of the competition, she performed classic Indian dances fused with Bollywood moves.

She has studied the Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam styles of dance, and in preparation for the Miss America contest, she worked with famed Bollywood choreographer Nakul Dev Mahajan. Davuluri still pulled off an exciting classic Bollywood fusion dance routine. “It’s the first time Bollywood has ever been performed on the Miss America stage and it’s such an honour for myself, my family and the Indian community, as well,” she said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America.".

"I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity," the new Miss America said at Atlantic City, New Jersey's Boardwalk Hall.

"This was the most stressful night of my entire life," judge Lance Bass said in a press conference after the coronation. "I mean, I was sweating bullets the whole entire time [but] I think the judges did an incredible job choosing the best Miss America."

Even with 15 years of training in Indian dance, Davuluri took her preparations for Miss America to the next level. Before the pageant, Davuluri flew to Los Angeles to train with So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Nakul Dev Mahajan.

"I was the first Indian Miss New York, and I'm so proud to be the first Indian Miss America," Nina Davuluri said after she won.

Miss America Nina Davuluri on previous winner Vanessa Williams: 'Stars aligned for both of us'

Biographical details

Miss New York Nina Davuluri's reaction on learning that she will be Miss America 2014. L to R: Miss California Crystal Lee, Nina Davuluri and Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan.

Height, 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)


Comes From A Loving, Supportive Family

Her mother, father and sister all attended the Miss American pageant on that triumphant Sunday night. Even though her grandmother, 89-year-old Vege Koteshwaramma, could not see her live (she lives in Vijaywada, India) she did tell the Associated Press that she cried when she saw the news on television. “I am very, very happy for the girl. It was her dream and it was fulfilled,” Koteshwaramma said.

“It was not surprising, knowing my granddaughter’s determination and talents,” Davuluri’s grandmother, Koteshwaramma Choudhary, told of her granddaughter’s win. “I am immensely happy for my granddaughter as it is a great achievement. She finally reached her dream goal. But I know she will not rest and will go further ahead.”

Nina's father Davuluri Koteshwara Choudhary, who migrated to the US in 1981, is a gynaecologist in Fayetteville, New York

Nina was the only one in her immediate family who did not pursue medicine. While her parents, father Koteswara Chowdary, an obstetrician, and mother Sheila Ranjani, are doctors in the US. Nina's elder sister, Meena, is in her third year of medicine. Her paternal uncles are also doctors in US. her maternal aunt and uncle are physicians who operate a nursing home in India, and her father’s siblings also work in the medical field in America

Early life

Davuluri with mother Sheela Ranjani who, according to DeccanChronicle, is a software professional.
Davuluri's grandmother Vege Koteshwaramma. Photo: DeccanChronicle

Nina was born on April 20, 1989 in Syracuse, N.Y. but moved to Oklahoma at age four and then to Michigan at age ten. In 2007, her family moved to Fayetteville, Central New York, where her father works as a gynaecologist affiliated with St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Koteswara shifted to the US soon after his marriage in 1981. Sheila is on the board of Montessori Kalasala as vice-president and visits the city [Vijayawada] at least once in two years. The girls of the Montessori celebrated the Nina's new title.

Nina last visited Vijaywada city in 2007 soon after becoming first runners up in Miss America's outstanding teen contest.

In addition to spending summers in her family’s native country, India, Nina revealed during last night’s show that her favorite place to travel is Egypt.

Fought obesity, asthma

Nina Davuluri
Nina Davuluri

Nina Davuluri's 85-year-old grandmother V Koteswaramma, lives in Moghalrajapuram Vijayawada. Recalling how her grand-daughter struggled before reaching the pinnacle, Koteswaramma said that Nina overcame two obstacles, asthma and obesity.

The [New York?] Post reported a few hours before the Miss America victory that Davuluri used to be overweight, having “shed 53 pounds in only a few years.”

Battled Bulimia Davuluri has opened up about her battle with bulimia and being overweight. “People who’ve been overweight, especially women, feel like at a moment’s notice we can go back to where we were,” she told the Syracuse Post-Standard in July 2013.

Davuluri said she lost more than 50 pounds before competing in the Miss New York pageant earlier this year. “[Struggling with weight] makes you more sympathetic, more empathetic. You don’t judge. I’ve been there, and if I can pull myself out of where I’ve been, anyone can.”

She struggled with bulimia, binging on rich foods as comfort and then feeling shameful later. According to, after she worked with personal trainer Tia Falcone, Nina adopted a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Davuluri told The Post-Standard in the summer of 2013 that she hated the word "skinny" and struggled with weight and bulimia herself.

"People who've been overweight, especially women, feel like at a moment's notice we can go back to where we were," she said in July 2013. "It makes you more sympathetic, more empathetic. You don't judge. I've been there, and if I can pull myself out of where I've been, anyone can."

Now She Tries to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle as is seen from her tweets:

‘Grilling with my Dad after a workout! #QualityBondingTime’ August 25, 2012

Nina Davuluri tries to keep healthy by working out and preparing good meals on the grill. ‘Final product!’ August 25, 2012 (there’s a picture)

She also grows her own garden. ‘Look at the tomatoes on my tomato plant!!! They're so cute! So excited :)’ August 25, 2012

Success! Healthy Homemade Grilled Chicken Tikka and Cucumber Raita! It was actually really easy to make! July 13, 2012

Beauty with brains

The 24-year-old Fayetteville, New York, native has a degree in Brain Behaviour and Cognitive Science from the University of Michigan, , earning Dean’s List, Michigan Merit Award, and National Honor Society Award honors along the way. She paid for part of her tuition with pageant scholarships totaling $25,000, which she earned throughout her teens. She aspires to be a cardiologist , a goal for which she pledged the $ 50,000 prize money she won with her crown. She says she’d love to attend Upstate Medical University.

Next, she’ll apply to medical school with help from the $50,000 scholarship she won last night.

"Nina wanted to study medicine and become a cardiologist. But she took a new route and has now won the Miss America title," grandmother Koteswaramma informs.

Nina loves Telugu films and culture and is a trained Kuchipudi and Bharat Natyam dancer.

Miss Syracuse, and then Miss New York

On July 13, 2013, Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss New York at the stately St. George Theatre. She reached the Miss New York finals because earlier still she had won the Miss Syracuse title.

Miss Davuluri, was crowned Miss New York by her predecessor, Sharon Oliver. She received a $10,000 scholarship.

Davuluri wore a floor length evening gown of light yellow. She will spend her year advocating for diversity.

The Miss America Organization is the nation's leading scholarship provider for women, awarding more than $45 million annually.

Davuluri is also the second consecutive Miss New York to win the Miss America crown, succeeding Mallory Hagan

Racist reactions to her triumph

Nina Davuluri of Indian origin who became Miss America faced racial comments on social media soon after winning the crown. The attacks embarrassed many Americans. Something similar happened when Rima Fakih was crowned Miss USA in 2010. Fakih is of Lebanese descent, and many were quick to try to link her to the militant group Hezbollah.

Miss Davuluri herself preferred to stay above the muck, telling the Associated Press that she always viewed herself first and foremost as an American.

"I have to rise above that," she said. "I always viewed myself as first and foremost American."

"I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity... I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America," she added.

History: race and the Miss America tiara

In 1983, a Syracuse University student named Vanessa Williams became the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America. (She was later stripped of the title in a scandal over nude pictures.)

Thirty years later, on Sept 15, 2013, the second Miss Syracuse winner to receive the same national honor, Miss New York Nina Davuluri, became the first Indian-American woman to win Miss America.

DeccanChronicle writes, 'The 92-year-old Miss America contest initially excluded non-whites. White women from the former Confederacy -- the reputed "Southern Belles" -- dominated the contest starting in the 1950s just as the country's attention was turning to racial discrimination... Davuluri is the second Asian-American winner, after Angela Perez-Baraquio, who is of Filipino descent and won in 2001.'

US Representative Grace Meng of New York likened Davuluri's victory to that of Bess Myerson, who was crowned the first Jewish Miss America in 1945 soon after the end of World War II.

Is she politically-incorrect herself?

Nina Davuluri: Miss New York Nina Davuluri is crowned the 2014 Miss America by 2013 Miss Amerca Mallory Hagan. The 2014 Miss America competition was held at Boardwalk Hall. Sunday September 15, 2013. Atlantic City, NJ, USA. This photograph is by Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger
Nina Davuluri

Nina might not be a bleeding-heart, politically-correct liberal herself.

Page Six reported two days before she won the Miss America crown that Davuluri had been recorded by one of the other contestants calling her predecessor, Mallory Hagan [who would crown her two months later], “fat as f--- ” in a hotel room on July 16 in Staten Island. Davuluri denied making the comments, and a rep for Miss America said the incident had been investigated and found the story had "no validity."

Her platform

The last two contestants standing at the end of the Miss America competition in Sept 2013 were Davuluri and Miss California, Crystal Lee, who became the first runner-up. Before the winner was announced, Davuluri said into the microphone: “We’re both so proud. We’re making history right here, standing here as Asian-Americans.”

As the first Indian-American to win Miss America, Davuluri will certainly be able to promote her pageant platform, “celebrating diversity through cultural competency.” She’s dismissed critics of her multicultural heritage and winning the title saying, “I have to rise above that…I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.”

"During her year as Miss America she will serve as spokesperson for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) this year as she travels to Washington, D.C., to work with the Department of Education," according to a Miss America statement.

She also is passionate about healthy lifestyles after battling obesity and bulimia when she was younger.

Davuluri will travel to Seaside Heights, New Jersey, to visit the site of last week’s devastating boardwalk fire. Then, she’ll begin her year-long national speaking tour, during which she’ll traveling about 20,000 miles a month to a different city every other day to promote her platform.


Nina Davuluri

Enjoys The Theatre. music and sports

According to the Washington Post, Miss New York is headed to New York City, where in addition to preparing for TV talk show appearances, she plans to view many Broadway musicals. She’ll see “Pippin” on Tuesday and “The Trip to Bountiful” on Wednesday, featuring former Miss America, Vanessa Williams.

she is an expert with the flute, the clarinet and the piano.

In sports she supports Orange.

A True Role Model

Davuluri hopes that young women who watched the pageant will be inspired by her newfound healthy lifestyle, instead of wanting to be stick thin. She hates the word “skinny” and prefers not to reveal her weight, so that impressionable girls don’t aspire to reach her number. Nina said the perfect weight, for any individual, is the plateau where you are healthy and feel good about yourself.

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