Dancing Queen Neetu Sahota is used to shaking things up on stage with her energetic spark and attitude. She calls the stage her home, and it’s no surprise that after ditching her trainers for heels, her elegance and charisma helped her wow the judges to be crowned Miss Flavour 2010.
In her first interview as Miss Flavour, Neetu tells us why she is an exotic Indian woman fearless in her pursuit of happiness.
What made you decide to take part in the Miss Flavour competition?
It’s something that I’ve never done before. It was a big step for me! I’m all about taking on challenges and working out of my comfort zone. I knew Flavour would be a great opportunity for me to show my talents.
How did you feel on the day of the event?
At the beginning of the day I was relaxed and calm, but backstage with the rest of the girls my nerves got the best of me. To me this was good because I always feel like that backstage before I go on to perform.
And How was the atmosphere backstage – did you find the stylists and other girls supportive?
The stylists were fantastic! I really loved my hair and my make-up. My stylist made my big hair even bigger; I felt like Beyoncé! The stylists were very helpful backstage with the touch-ups and the extra hairspray, making sure we all looked flawless on stage. The other girls looked amazing; we had a laugh.
What are your ambitions?
My main ambition is to go on tour and perform as a dancer for well-known artists and hopefully hit the States for any dance opportunities. I’m hungry for it! The dance industry is a very competitive industry because you never know what the artistic choreographer is looking for, whether it’s the look, the style or even the groove. Dancing is my passion; it just helps me to express the way I feel. I love being on stage, I love performing on stage – it’s my home and where I belong.
What do you expect to come from Miss Flavour?
I hope to build new connections within the entertainment industry and also gain the necessary experience to aid me in the journey to be a professional dancer and model.
What’s your current philosophy and How will you make this your year?
By being confident and breaking certain boundaries – no more hiding away and thinking that I’m not good enough. I am determined to aim high and get to where I want to be! I will use every opportunity that comes my way.
Who inspires you and why?
Definitely Wayne McGregor, the director of Random Dance Company. McGregor always produces very successful work on stage, he’s very artistic. His styles are based around contemporary dance, ballet, abstract and disjointed movement. I recently went to watch Random Dance Company perform their latest new piece, FAR. This was a breathtaking piece for me. McGregor inspires me to get out of my comfort zone and move in ways I wouldn’t usually move.
How long have you been dancing and Where did it all start?
I started Kathak dancing (traditional Indian dance) when I was 11 and after school I went to dance clubs. At college I studied BTEC National Performing Arts for three years in music, dance and drama, whilst dancing for four years with East London Dance Youth Company, performing at big events. I am now trained in contemporary, jazz and ballet. In the past I have auditioned for six higher education dance colleges to take my training even further into a dance institution, but unfortunately I didn’t get into any of them. It was quite upsetting for me, but I’m staying positive and focused. I’ve since had the chance to perform a Bollywood piece in the Middle East (Salalah in Oman), which was such a lovely experience for me and I met great people.
Do you think That women are fairly represented in the media? how would you like to be represented?
I think that currently woman in the media are well represented. I feel that this is due to the way we carry ourselves as women. Stereotypes and sexism no longer mess with our self-esteem and image. Women like Oprah, Beyoncé, Jada Pinkett Smith and Ellen DeGeneres help demonstrate the real power, passion and beauty of a woman. The only downfall is that women will always be used for sexual stimuli, but nowadays that is down to the individual choice of a woman. Personally I would like to be represented as a strong, independent, intuitive, good-natured and exotic Indian woman!
What’s your ideal man?
Hmm… well I like a guy who has a good sense of humour. Someone who knows how to make me laugh. Oh, he has to be strong-minded and know what he wants in life. Good looks and a good heart, that’s a good balance!
So are you single?
What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
I fell on stage a few years ago! I had to style it out! The worst thing that can ever happen to you is to fall if you are performing on stage. That was not a nice feeling!
What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?
I sneaked out of a family party with my boyfriend and went to the park to ‘enjoy ourselves’ [laughs].
Describe your fashion style
I’m an all-rounder. Sometimes you’ll catch me looking funky, sometimes smart-casual. I am really liking Rihanna’s style at the moment. She works it!
Can you Tell us about a movie that you love and have learned a great life lesson from?
One of my favourite movies would have to be Save the Last Dance. To me this movie shows that no matter what happens or what the situation is, you have to keep fighting for your dreams. In the movie it shows the struggle of Sara when she didn’t get into the Juilliard School and losing her mother. I feel I can relate to this film because I’ve been turned away at dance auditions, and last year I also lost my dad. This had made it very difficult for me to do my dancing; I got to a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t have the best relationship with my dad and never had the chance to make up with him and tell him I love him.
So Is there a particular movie character who you relate to or who reminds you of yourself?
I am very strong-minded and very stubborn just like Sara in the film. Sara falls in love with a young black man, Derek, and they both receive disappointing looks from people around them. I am in a relationship with a black man and have been through everything with him, from the dirty looks, racist comments and rude phone calls.
How did you feel when you won Miss Flavour 2010? what does it mean to you?
I couldn’t believe it; till this point I still cannot believe it, I’ve never won anything like this before so it feels very nice to be known as Miss Flavour. By being Miss Flavour there are certain standards that I’ll have to uphold and I hope these standards transfer into my personal life and goals, eg my dancing and modelling, also, most importantly, strengthen my qualities into womanhood.
Photography by Michael Scorr
Styling by Eboni Burrows
Make-up by Jada Chintina
Hair by Veowna Charles
Interview by Melissa Lewars