Jayathi De Silva is not a new face to Sri Lankan pageantry. The exuberantly beautiful lady was first runner-up at the Miss Sri Lanka for World 2015 pageant. Having bagged the Revlon Miss Universe Sri Lanka 2016 title recently, Jayathi’s next dream is to make it big in the 65th edition of the Miss Universe pageant which will be held in the Philippines next year.
Outer beauty captures eyes. Inner beauty captivates hearts. This is true where Jayathi is concerned. Apart from being a beauty pageant winner and model she is also a scientist who emphasizes on the importance of doing research on cancer.
“I want young people to be more interested in science. I want them to pursue a career in cancer research as cancer is an extremely diverse and complicated disease, which requires a lot of time, effort and research,” stresses the beauty who is engaged in many charity projects for cancer patients, aspiring them to battle with cancer. These days Jayathi’s time is devoted to training, reading up on current affairs, improving her public speaking skills and getting her wardrobe ready for the pageant.
Q: How has life treated you so far after winning the Miss Sri Lanka for Miss Universe crown?
A: (Beaming) It has been a surreal experience. I still have not got used to the fact that I am Miss Universe Sri Lanka 2016! My phone has been ringing non-stop from last week onwards since my family and friends all wanted to congratulate me. It has been a wonderful experience, so far and I am loving it! I am looking forward to what’s to come.
Q: How do you hope to take Sri Lanka to the world at the Miss Universe pageant?
A: I am going to highlight the unique and wonderful characteristics that enrich the Sri Lankan identity. My focus will be to generate global awareness on who we are and what we stand for.
I have lived in the UK for almost seven years and one of the things that resonated for me was the fact that we are constantly try to emulate and live up to a foreign standard and concept of beauty instead of embracing our diversity and celebrating who we are and where we come from. The international community wants to know who we are and what makes us special. I want to portray that we are proud of our history and culture. We are strong, caring, ambitious and intelligent women.
Q: What are you looking forward to most when you visit the Philippines for the Miss Universe pageant?
A: I am really looking forward to meeting all the contestants from around the world to learn about and relate to their experiences and cultures.
I am also hoping to get the opportunity to explore the country while I’m there as it sounds amazing. Trekking on the Mayon Volcano and thresher shark diving in the Malapascua islands are at the top of my must-do list.
Q: These days everyone seems to be a ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs Sri Lanka’ because there are so many beauty pageants happening in the country.
A: Yes, that is true. However most of these pageants are not well known or properly regulated. Therefore, the general sentiment is that being a ‘Miss Sri Lanka’ or a ‘Mrs Sri Lanka’ title holder is an easy task. It is a great honour to be crowned Miss Sri Lanka for Miss Universe because it is one of the oldest and most coveted pageants in the world.
Rosita Wickremesinghe is the National Director of the Miss Universe Sri Lanka pageant and she has been engaged in its activities for a very long time. Her wealth of knowledge and experience is outstanding. It is a privilege to work with her. Unlike some of the other pageants held at present, the Miss Sri Lanka for Miss Universe pageant maintains an unbiased and consistent standard. This is the reason why it has an impeccable reputation.
Q: You became first runner up in the Miss Sri Lanka for World 2015. Did that experience help you in any way to succeed this time?
A: Being the first runner up in the Miss Sri Lanka for Miss World 2015 pageant definitely helped me this time around. Most importantly it highlighted the areas that I needed to work on and improve. I worked really hard this year to be a better-rounded and accomplished contestant. Your losses are so much more valuable than your wins because they push you to better yourself and grade how you handle situations in life.
Q: What is the best and worst thing about being model?
A: The best thing about being a model is that you have the opportunity to empower and influence others, if you chose do so, in a positive way. A role model is derived from a model - someone you look up to and want to be like. This is very powerful and if channeled positively, can shape a generation.
The worst thing is the constant scrutiny and pressure that society exerts on models.
There is a generic stereotype tagged to the modeling profession in Sri Lanka that it is an easy career choice that lacks substance. This is far from the truth. It takes incredible drive and intelligence to become a successful model. The level of self-esteem required to be preserve in the industry is phenomenal.
The best models consistently work hard and make sure that they live up to the vigorous demands of their work. It is a disciplined lifestyle choice to be a model. They have to eat healthy, work out daily and be impeccably groomed. It is not as easy as it seems!
Q: Besides modeling what are your other talents?
A: I am first and foremost a scientist. This is my greatest achievement and I am very proud to have this under my belt. In addition to this I have proved to be a very apt public speaker.
Q: Are you an outdoor person or an indoor person?
A: It really depends on where I am living. In Sri Lanka, I prefer to be outdoors because it’s nice and sunny. There are a lot of places to see and I enjoy traveling and exploring my country.
However, when I was living in London, I was very much of an indoor person – mostly during the winter because I found the weather extremely unpleasant. I used to stay indoors a lot and enjoy a good cup of coffee and catch up on my favorite TV series and reading.
Q: What is your most favourite food and what is your least favourite food?
A: Favourite food: Thai green curry because it is so aromatic, creamy and refreshing.
Least favourite food: Sushi. I really wish I loved sushi because it’s healthy and light, however the idea of raw fish puts me off so much! (Laughs)
Q: What is the nicest thing that someone has said about you?
A: During a visit to the Cancer Hospital in Maharagama, a patient who was terminally ill, had tears in her eyes when she told me that she was truly impressed and touched that I had chosen to be a cancer research scientist and that I returned to my home country to make a difference and better patients’ lives. She wished me all the best and hoped that in my lifetime, a cure would be found for cancer. Her kind words and encouragement really moved me... (Pauses for a while and then continues in a very emotional tone) Unfortunately, a few months later she passed away as she lost her battle with cancer.
God rest her soul. This is why I do what I do and know how important it is to never give up, no matter how impossible the task may seem.
Q: Three things that irritates you.
2) People who are not up front
Q: If you could have a plastic surgery right now and change anything about yourself, what would you change?
A: I really would not change anything about me. I did have insecurities growing up but over the years, I have learned to love myself and appreciate my physical appearance. I believe that everyone is uniquely beautiful and their distinguishing characteristics shape their individuality and personality.
Q: Relationship status?
A: Single. For me one of the most important things about a relationship is the ability to have a conservation about anything with your partner. If I like someone, he will capture and keep me engaged. He should be able to make me laugh and hold a meaningful and interesting conversation with me. I also expect him to be honest, well educated, know what is going on in the world, and be understanding.
Q: If you are crowned Miss Universe what would you do?
A: Being Miss Universe is a huge responsibility as it serves as a platform to empower women and worthy causes. If I become Miss Universe, I’d like to impart the importance of education to women all around the world. I have a personal interest in promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields among women as globally there is a huge underrepresentation of women in these fields compared to men.
I will use this title to influence decision makers to talk more about this issue and get potential investors and employers to hire more women in these fields, globally.
Secondly, I would like to expand the scope of the charity work I already do for cancer patients. I have always highlighted the importance of palliative care for terminally ill cancer patients, especially in Asia and Africa, as palliative care is almost nonexistent in comparison to developed countries.