Miss New York Nina Davuluri stunned many when she was crowned Miss America in Atlantic City Sunday night, making her the first winner of Indian descent. Of course, South Asian Twitter was quick to congratulate Davuluri for her big win (we trust you can find those racist tweets yourselves). Here are the ten things you need to know about the new Miss America.
1. She boldly predicted her win in her official bio.
In a video posted to the Miss New York homepage, Davuluri looks straight into the camera and says, “I’m on a mission. Miss America has always been the girl next door. But Miss America is evolving. And she’s not going to look the same anymore.”
2. She fully recognizes the historic nature of her win.
Moments before being crowned the winner, Davuluri paid tribute to the fact that two Asian Americans were the last two standing. “We’re both so proud. We’re making history right here, standing here as Asian Americans,” she told host Lara Spencer, referring to herself and runner-up Miss California Crystal Lee. “As you should be,” replied Spencer.
3. She’s a classically trained dancer.
According to her official bio, Davuluri regularly traveled to the southern Indian city of Vijayawada to study both Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dance. “Every other summer my family would travel to India for a couple of months, and while we were there we took lessons nearly every day with a dance master,” she told Syracuse.com.
4. Her “Bollywood Fusion” dance routine was choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance’s Nakul Dev Mahajan.
The artistic director was the creative force behind Katee Sheen and Joshua Allen’s routine, also to Dhoom Taana, in 2008. In its live blog, The South Jersey Times described the performance as “a fun dance with plenty of energy.”
5. She won despite missing her cue.
Host Lara Spencer had to repeatedly say “Miss New York!…. Miss New York!” before Davuluri finally took the stage before her Bollywood routine. It’s unclear if this was caused by a bout of nervousness or because it was simply too loud inside the theater.
6. Surprise! She’s pre-med.
Davuluri graduated from the University of Michigan last year with a degree in Brain Behavior and Cognitive Science. She says she’s planning to apply to medical school soon.
7. She self-identifies as a nerd.
“I love Star Wars, Star Trek and anything sci-fi,” she said in the aforementioned biographical video.
8. She’s a recovering bulimic.
The newly crowed beauty queen has spoken openly about her struggles with weight, body image and bulimia in the past.
9. Unlike most of her peers, she’s student debt-free.
Davuluri says a combination of parental assistance and $25,000 in pageant scholarship money funded her undergraduate degree.
10. She’s now the second-most famous former Miss Syracuse.
Exactly 30 years ago, actress and singer Vanessa Williams (and fellow former Miss Syracuse) was crowned Miss America. Williams’ win was also historic, as she was the first African American Miss America.