Nina Davuluri … from Miss America to the White House, to a skincare brand and campaigns for diversity and social impact
November 22, 2018
Nina Davuluri is an inspiring woman.
I recently met her on stage at the WIL Economic Forum in Dubai UAE. She is of course most famous for winning Miss America, celebrating diversity and her mixed Asian-America heritage. More recently her fame has taken her to television shoes, and launching her own cosmetics brand. A brand with a social impact. Perhaps most revealing however, was when she told me about her favourite reading material to save her from boredom whilst travelling around the world. The Economist.
She is currently the host and producer of the new reality show, “Made In America,” which made its series premiere August 2017 on ZeeTV Americas. The premise of the show is to empower young women to discover more about themselves through a series of challenges as they embark on a new journey to fulfill their dreams in America. Nina first gained international acclaim by becoming the first Indian American and South Asian to become Miss America 2014; through her experiences, she realized how much of a need there was in the marketplace for this type of content to be created for young South Asian millennials.
Nina is no novice to the television and media industry. She has been featured on CNN’s Out Front with Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper 360, LIVE! with Kelly & Micheal, Fox & Friends, The View, MSNBC, The Arsenio Hall Show, NPR, BBC World, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Canada’s Breakfast Television & The Morning Show, among many other local media outlets both nationally and internationally.
Since becoming Miss America 2014, Nina has logged approximately 500,000 miles traveling across the world to address an array of audiences on her platform: “Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency.” As part of her consciousness-raising efforts on behalf of diversity, Nina also launched a social media campaign, #CirclesOfUnity, to encourage constructive and civil dialogue on diversity issues. Through her social media channels, Nina asks people to share “representative thoughts and stories about their experiences on how we as a nation can advance cultural awareness.” Nina is proud to have spoken at almost 40 different universities including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University (UK), and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in both Bombay and Hyderabad, spreading her message of inclusion. Nina has also taken her platform internationally, speaking in the United Kingdom, Philippines, Canada, Kenya, and India.
In addition to her personal platform, Nina also partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Education promoting women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related fields. She has worked with top technology companies such as Dell & Google in addition to the Sacramento Kings Foundation to further their women in STEM initiatives. Furthermore, she has worked with many charities/NGO’s in the U.S. and India advocating for equality and education–most notably Pratham, Magic Bus, Akshaya Patra, and Girl Rising. With her Indian roots and heritage, Nina was the first choice by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office to be the emcee for his historic Madison Square Garden reception in 2014.
Nina’s work in advocacy became apparent when she was first recognized by President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. In April of 2014, she was invited to collaborate with the First Lady on her campaign, “Let’s Move.” She then went on to help launch “Act to Change,” an anti-bullying campaign led by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI). In July of 2015, Nina was invited to be a speaker at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya during President Obama’s historic first visit. She was honored to be the youngest speaker on the main stage sharing her experiences as an entrepreneur & trailblazer in the field of diversity. In March of 2016, Nina embarked on a fourteen day tour in India that was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State promoting education, women’s empowerment, and diversity. Nina was incredibly proud to return to her homeland of India and focus on key issues between both countries. The tour culminated in an invitation from President Obama to the last Women’s History Month reception held at the White House when he served his final year in office.
Nina and her business partner Rooshy Roy have most recently delved into the Indian culture of beauty, science, and Ayurvedic healing for their new beauty and skincare brand Aavrani.
What started out as a startup pitch and a finalist in the Penn Wharton Startup Showcase 2018 became a reality in July 2018. Aavrani is a luxury clean skincare brand rooted in the science of Ayurvedic healing. Davuluri and Roy understand, thanks to personal experiences, the cultural sensitivities and struggles of not being the fairer complexion. It led to them using toxic bleaching products.
They created Aavrani, which aims to empower women to be confident in their skin and aims to highlight the beauty in representation and diversity. In fact, they derived their name “Aavrani” from the Hindi word rani which means queen, encouraging everyone to embrace their natural beauty and be a #YouQueen.
Aavrani extends their empowerment into their philanthropy through their social impact partner, the Shanti Bhavan School, which provides access to education and mentorship to children in India. Aavrani focuses on a preventative, long-term approach to healthy skin. They embrace the natural beauty movement by providing non-toxic, all natural skincare derived from their Indian culture and heritage in order to #GlowAndConquer.