The recent Miss Nepal US boycott campaign led by a group of former Miss Nepal US participants and supported by Sarah Gurung has managed to gain attention from people all over. Whilst some support the movement and applaud the ladies for speaking out, there are many who believe the former participants are doing nothing but pulling each others legs. Adding fuel to the fire is 23 year old professional make-up artist and photographer Jyotika Shrestha. Having been involved as a make-up artist and participant coordinator for Miss Nepal US 2012, Shrestha was invited back to join the Miss Nepal US 2013 team by CEO Amit Shah. Following a ‘disastrous’ grand finale of Miss Nepal US 2012, Shah quickly became popular for all the wrong reasons. However, it was his word that convinced Jyotika to give the pageant a second chance; a promise that this years event would be ‘fair and square’. Alas, it wasn’t long until Shrestha found herself stuck in a very unorganized team having to deal with some unprofessional members. It was then she realized it was time to call it quits. Jyotika shared a public update from Facebook announcing her decision to leave Miss Nepal US 2013 team. I caught up with the make-up guru to talk about why she actually left!
LEX: What was the experience of Miss Nepal US 2012 like for you?
JYOTIKA: Whatever the ex-participants wrote on their public letter about their experience of Miss Nepal US 2012 was completely true. I was there last year and it was a complete disaster. Having received the word from the organizer that I would be provided 4-5 helpers for the 28 contestants, I found myself on the final night providing make-up for all 28 girls by myself alone. The experience was so stressful that few members of the guests had to come and assist me for few of the contestants towards the end. I felt guilty that I could not provide my best work to all of the participants equally.
LEX: Having experienced such a ‘disastrous’ event, what made you go back to Miss Nepal US 2013?
JYOTIKA: I was approached this year by Mr Amit Shah (CEO of Miss Nepal US). This initially came to me as a surprise as I hadn’t been in communication with the organizing committee post-Miss Nepal US 2012. Mr Shah apologized for last years event and gave me the word that this years event will be well managed and presented with the help of a New York based management team and also shared that an American fashion show would be taking place in hope to give this years contestants better opportunities. I was very frank in telling him that if there were any dodgy activities taking place behind the curtains then I would be quitting straight away. It was then he gave me his word that this years pageant will be fair and square. Thats how I got on board for this year.
LEX: On your announcement (on Facebook) to leave Miss Nepal US 2013 team, you mentioned about trust being an issue. Can you please give an example of when you found it difficult to work with the Miss Nepal US 2013 team?
JYOTIKA: On top of my role as a make-up artist, I was also given the duty to be one of the several participant coordinator. Things started going wrong when we weren’t getting enough contestants who were willing to pay the fees, $100 for application fee and $1000 for workshop fee. Even though a lot of girls had applied, around 80, we were struggling to convince the girls to fully compete in the pageant by paying those fees. It wasn’t difficult to understand why so many hesitated to pay such high fees. Getting 20 contestants had become our goal. I was shocked when a fellow member called and informed me that every team member must bring 2 contestants. I made my disapproval clear and informed the member that we cannot force this upon anyone. There’s always one bad apple in every basket, so I chose to let this incident go.
Communication was also very poor between the core team members as I had to find out that there were only 16 final contestants through Facebook. I suspected foul-play after hearing that two of the contestants for the final 16 had been promised Miss Nepal US titles and sub-titles. When I confronted my team members and the CEO about this growing issue, I was told that this was nothing but a ploy by the former Miss Nepal US contestants to sabotage this years event. The public letter by the former contestants surfaced on Sajha during the same time. At that time when I came to learn that some of the former participants had got in contact with some of the current contestants to share about their experience, I was furious however now I can understand why they did that.
LEX: So what was the final straw for you in calling it quits?
JYOTIKA: I reached breaking point when one of the team member contacted Sarah Gurung (Choreographer of Miss Nepal US 2012) and threatened her for supporting the former participants against Miss Nepal US 2013. Sarah is a sister to me and someone I know on a personal level. I was very disturbed to learn about the phone call that she received. My attempt to inform the organizing committee fell to deaf ears with some later saying that the team member who contacted Sarah was simply reacting to a personal attack. That was it for me, I couldn’t take these lies and lack of communication any further. Its very embarrassing to know that a Miss Nepal US member called someone who is so dear to me and threatened her. What kind of a message does this send out? I no longer wanted to be part of the Miss Nepal US team.
LEX: Since you announced your decision to leave the team, have you received any messages from your former team members?
JYOTIKA: Unsurprisingly, one of the team member had the audacity of telling me that I was violating laws by speaking to the contestants of Miss Nepal US 2013. The team member requested me to stay out of touch with the contestants. Through my short-time I have built a good rapport with all of the girls and we are connected through social networking sites. I believe they have violated more laws with their false advertisement and corrupt practice going on behind the scenes. I am not intimidated by any of them. I am simply waiting for them to contact me and threaten me after they read this.
LEX: What will you be taking away from this short experience?
JYOTIKA: All of the girls are very talented and are a good representation of strong Nepalese women, unfortunately I feel that Miss Nepal US is not the right platform for these ladies. I am not saying beauty pageants are wrong, they just need to be done by the right people with the right intentions. I would rather be part of something good for free rather than be part of something bad even if I am paid for it. I would encourage the girls to engage in events with a cause or charity events that can actually bring positive change than just personal gain.
Regardless of the public letter shared by the former participants on Sajha, I am not against the show. I am just against the people and their motives for doing the show. I hope the ex-participants get a public apology from the organizers. Now I can understand why the former participants are so determined to share their story. They don’t want the other girls to go through the same ordeal as them, having to invest money and time expecting a promised grand event yet leaving with nothing but disappointment. I wish good luck and good judgement to all the present participants.
Miss Nepal US 2013 Takes Place on 17 Aug at New YorkRead More: Miss Nepal US 2013 in Controversy!! Miss Nepal US Astha Shrestha Defends The Pageant