- She has previously won several pageants including Miss World America Washington, Miss India Worldwide and Miss India USA.
When she was 12, Shree Saini was told she would never be able to dance. That’s the year she had a pacemaker implanted: her heart rate was only 20 beats per minute. Since then the Moses Lake, Washington resident has emerged stronger and stronger against all subsequent challenges. And this past weekend, he added another feather in her cap: She became the first Indian American to be elected Miss World America 2021. Saini, 25, was crowned by model and the winner of Miss World 1997 pageant Diana Hayden.
Saini took to her Instagram to share the news. She wrote: “Thank you God for blessing me, and allowing me to be of service as Miss World America 2021. I am the first American of Indian origin and first Asian to be crowned Miss World America.”
In a statement released after her crowning, Saini said: “I am happy and quite nervous. I can’t express my feelings (in words). All the credit goes to my parents, especially my mother because of whose support I am here. Thank you Miss World America for this honor.”
She takes over the reins from Miss World America 2020, Alissa Anderegg, has filled her one-year with incredible work in raising awareness for Alzheimer’s and related dementias, according to the pageant website.
In an earlier interview with this writer, Saini, who always wanted to compete in pageants since 1st grade, admitted that her journey to the coveted crown was “long, and tough.” Born in Ludhiana, Punjab, Saini came to the U.S. at age 7. Back in India, she learned Bollywood dance and Kathak. Her surgery changed everything, and at age 15, Saini had to relearn dance once again. Along with the Indian dance forms, she learned Western dance forms like ballet, jazz and hip-hop.
She did not dance until she was 15, and that wasn’t easy either, as there was no diversity in the town. But these challenges taught her “how to cope with adversaries,” she says. Saini, who started her non-profit organization, when she was 15 has been a victim of bullying in high school and has been campaigning against non-verbal bullying through her website.
Currently Miss World America Washington, Saini also holds the position of “MWA National Beauty with a Purpose Ambassador,” a title she earned “by working tirelessly to help those less fortunate and in need,” according to the pageant website. Saini has served hundreds of hours of community service, her work has been recognized by UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, Susan G Komen, and many others. In 2018, Saini was crowned Miss India Worldwide at a pageant held in the Fords City of New Jersey. The previous year, she won the Miss India USA pageant.
Similar to past pageants, it goes without saying that Saini will use the Miss World America pageant to make a difference. She said that the past pageants have taught her life skills, time management, improved her public speaking skills and given her the opportunity to “meet and get to know amazing people around the world.”