Sushmita Sen became Miss Universe in 1994 and has been an icon for many of us ever since. From speaking up against sexual misconduct to refusing to lip-sync sexist lyrics for a song, Sen has time and time again shown us all how to stand up for what is just. 

And this recent conversation of hers with Twinkle Khanna is yet another example of the actor’s authenticity and immensely inspiration persona. 

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In the interview the former Miss Universe talked about her vulnerabilities, about (just like the rest of us) having moments of weakness. 

She also talked about how she got a job at quite an early age because she wanted to buy the memorable white saree we all fell in love with in Sridevi’s Chandni. 

I was in love with Sridevi’s white look and I wanted to buy that. And baba’s standard answer for everything was, ‘ When Durga puja comes, you will get five outfits for five days.’ I knew that was too far away and also I wanted to make pocket money, so I started selling orders, you go door to door, ring the bell and then you’ve got this notepad given by the company… Daddy allowed me this in my summer vacations and I made a reasonable amount of money with it.

-Sushmita Sen for Tweak

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And an even more endearing memory that she shared with Twinkle Khanna was of how she entered the Miss Universe pageant. 

Apparently, Sen was out partying with her friends at a club, something she’d not told her parents about, when a man approached her and told her to sign up for the pageant. 

Ek toh ghar pe kisi ko pataa nahi tha ki main thi kahaan… Kaise explain karien? Phir dusri problem ye thi ki, it’s a beauty pageant. My father will kill me. Because, I am a Bengali girl heading to become an IAS officer.That’s his dream…Anyway, mumma ko thora bribe kiya, thora samjhaya, ki galti hogai, thora sa jhoot bola tha ki I was at Mona’s place and this happened. So my mom said, ‘Very good! Go tomorrow, apply.’ I said, ‘Mumma, we don’t have the money, this takes money, to get dresses for it.’ She said, ‘ We’ll worry about that later, you go first apply.’

-Sushmita Sen for Tweak

She also mentioned that she almost withdrew from the contest because one of the people at the application venue told her that Aishwarya Rai will be entering. 

But once again, her mother acted as her strongest supporter and told her to apply regardless, she also asked her what the point of a competition is until and unless you’re not competing with the best of the best! 

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While interviewing her, Twinkle Khanna also reminded us of how Sushmita Sen has kind of always been ahead of her time. She’s talked about cosmetic surgery and romantic relationships with an openness that many refrain from in our film industry. 

To this, Sen responded and said that she’s always been open and honest about herself. And that it’s always better to remain open minded to the realities and perceived flaws of humankind, than to judge them (or yourself). 

Tumhe kya lagta hai, humne koi galti nahi ki hain? Dabaa ke ki hain. And I don’t carry guilt about them because I never bullshitted about them. I lived them.

-Sushmita Sen for Tweak

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But this isn’t the only instance of Sen being ahead of the curve. Can we ever forget about how she fought to adopt both her daughters. She practically changed laws to be able to become a mother to them! Something that so many women can look up to her for. 

So clearly, Sushmita Sen has many inherent qualities as a human being that make the inspiration she is! She leads by example, and is the kind of role model we can all learn so much from. And if you want to know more about why we’re saying this, you can watch the whole interview here. 

She’s stellar!