‘A model must stay grounded, humble, and true to her roots’

  • Sadé Greenwood on representing Sri Lanka at the upcoming Miss World pageant

Sri Lanka once again has been presented with the opportunity to put its name on the world map, with Sadé Greenwood recently being crowned Siyatha Miss Sri Lanka for Miss World.

Brunch had the pleasure to sit down with the bubbly lady for a chat on her career, the pageant, and more.

Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Greenwood, 19, told us that her childhood was very simple and normal. Towards her latter years, she developed an interest in the field of arts; everything from drama and theatre to music caught her fancy. Academics too was a huge part of her school life, and she was given a scholarship to a university in Japan while she was at Asian International School (AIS).

Greenwood began modelling at the age of 14; her agent had scouted her at an event and asked her if she’d like to consider modelling. “At the time, it wasn’t something I’d thought about. I never considered doing it, but I’m someone who likes going out of my comfort zone and trying out new things,” she told us, adding that her mindset was: “If I fail, I fail, but it’s worth a try”. A few years down the line, she had made an impressive name for herself in the modelling industry.

The highs and the lows

We asked Greenwood to take us through her experience at the Siyatha Miss World pageant, along with the highs, lows, and everything in between.

Where most models would find the work going into the pageant to be stressful, for Greenwood, that was not the case. “I found the training to be my favourite part; etiquette training with Kumar, posing and choreography with Sangeetha and Senaka – I realised that these are lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” she said.

She didn’t have any lows she could name, but emphasised the importance of maintaining a balance between her school life and social life/career, adding that she is still learning how to do so.

Since she began modelling at an early age while she was schooling, she had to figure out a balance between the two. She shared: “Over the years, I’ve learned how to prioritise things, and I’m slowly but surely getting better and better at it.”

She explained that when the time came for her to represent Sri Lanka for the Miss World pageant, she found that with her prior experience, she knew how to prioritise work and organise her schedule. “My team was also very supportive and helpful, so we scheduled training around my university work,” she told us, adding that a good support system is also essential in learning how to balance life.

For her, modelling has always been a passion that she enjoyed pursuing. “One must always have that one thing in life that takes your mind off work – like a hobby. For me, that’s modelling, and it helps me balance my life,” she said.

When engaged in the modelling industry, despite the challenges, one has the opportunity to experience the glitz and glamour that Colombo has to offer. Greenwood’s favourite aspect of modelling is participating in photoshoots. “I love the creative shoots – the ones that are really out there,” she added, and the way she sees it, modelling is like an art; every shoot is different, and it’s almost like putting on a performance.

The makings of a model

“A model must be humble. No matter what life throws at you, you must stay grounded, know your roots, and be humble,” Greenwood commented, when we asked her what qualities she thinks a model must possess. She also added that if one has these two traits, then they will thrive in the industry.

The biggest challenge, regardless of what field, is the first step. “When I tell people that I started modelling at 14, they immediately assume that I immediately booked work as soon as I stepped into the industry,” she revealed, adding that this was not the case at all. She told us that even though she was scouted, she had to attend many castings and go through rejections just like every amateur model. “Even now, I still get rejected and it will always be a fact.”

Self-confidence is key to braving these challenges, she said, adding: “You just always believe in yourself. You just know what you’re capable of and what you can do.”

Coming from a point of personal experience, she shared that although there are going to be days where you wake up and have no faith in yourself, that will pass – that there will always be a new day, and it will be brighter. She highlighted that despite whatever you’re going through in life, it will get better, because everyone is capable of amazing things.

Sharing her thoughts on the current modelling industry in Sri Lanka, she stated that both the modelling and fashion industries are fast expanding – it changes every day and there are so many up and coming designers and models in the field. Greenwood also observed that there are many young and fresh faces emerging, and hopes that as the years come, the industry will keep growing, where one day Sri Lanka will be known as the “new fashion hub of Asia”.

What’s next for Sadé

We also touched on a topic that is impossible to leave out these days, the pandemic, and asked her how she fared with it, especially since the modelling world too saw many changes in the last year, to which she said: “In terms of photoshoots and fashion shows, they are all difficult to conduct because models should not be kept next to each other in fear of a spread. They were also constantly postponed.”

She added that she was lucky enough to be a part of Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) the last few years – even during the pandemic – and that it all went without a hitch due to how professional and responsible the team was.

Taking the situation into account, her plans for the coming year are not far-fetched. “I plan to work with a number of charity organisations – I will be working closely with the Fountain of Life organisation associated with Tokyo Cement, whose aim is to help children without access to water in rural areas,” she shared, and her eyes lit up passionately as she explained that they are also involved with other charities like the Foundation of Goodness who trains villagers and gives them life skills to better their living conditions.

“I know, with this pandemic, that a lot of people are struggling. I always get messages saying I’m always happy, but that’s not the reality,” she explained, emphasising that social media is a façade, and if one has hope for better days, life, too, will get better.

Greenwood will soon be heading to Puerto Rico to participate in the finals of the Miss World pageant and hopes to bring honour and glory to her motherland.