“This is a lot like an Olympic win."
Harnaaz Sandhu was crowned Miss Universe 2021 in early December.
Since then, the Chandigarh-based actress and model has attracted both praise and criticism from social media users.
Harnaaz Sandhu has responded to people who said that she won the Miss Universe title purely because of her ‘pretty face’.
The beauty pageant winner added that there was a lot of effort that went into securing the title.
Harnaaz said: “There are a lot of people who say I won because I have a pretty face.
“But I know the amount of effort that went behind it.
“Instead of indulging in argument, I’d rather work hard to make them realise my worth. This is the stereotype that I want to break.
“This is a lot like an Olympic win. When we appreciate a sportsperson who represents the country, why can’t we appreciate beauty pageant winners?
“However, mindsets are changing, and I am happy to be breaking stereotypes already.”
Harnaaz expressed her wish to pursue acting and also “break stereotypes” in the film industry.
The model added: “I don’t want to be a normal actress.
“I want to be one of those who are very influential, and who break stereotypes by choosing strong characters, being wise, and being inspirational.”
Harnaaz Sandhu brought the Miss Universe crown to India 21 years after Lara Dutta had won the title.
She is the third to bring the title to India after Sushmita Sen won in 1994.
Before her Miss Universe win, Harnaaz had starred in several films and made her small screen debut.
The 21-year-old model has been featured in the Punjabi film Yaara Diyan Poo Baran.
She also has Bai Ji Kuttange in the pipeline, as well as two other projects produced by The Kapil Sharma Show star Upasana Singh.
Harnaaz also expressed her desire to work in a Priyanka Chopra biopic.
Priyanka, who won Miss World in 2000, recently said that she was “very excited” to see Harnaaz being crowned Miss Universe in 2021.
Talking about her wish of working in a biopic of the actress, Harnaaz said:
“I would love to love to be part of that.
“I think she has inspired me throughout her journey and she will keep on inspiring millions of us.”
Harnaaz Sandhu beat 79 others to become Miss Universe including runners up Paraguay’s Nadia Ferreira and South Africa’s Lalela Mswane.