In Conversation With Adline Castelino, Miss Diva Universe 2020

India as a country loves cricket and Bollywood. A spirit of oneness and pride is instilled when Indian teams and individuals perform on international platforms. While I am not a cricket fan, I remember religiously watching the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants with my mother. Every single time India made it to the next round, I would literally have goosebumps with a sense of pride. I had to wait for a good 20 years since Sushmita Sen and Lara Dutta’s victories to feel this way again! However, Adline Castelino made the wait worthwhile. Representing the country at the Miss Universe pageant, she has made the country proud by winning the third runner-up title. We spoke with Adline, Miss Diva Universe 2020, to give you a glimpse into her experience, learning and future plans. 

ELLE: Congratulations Adline! You made history by breaking India’s 20 years of non-placement in the Top 5 contestants of Miss Universe. What did you do differently? 

Adline Castelino (AC): Thank you so much. I still can’t believe it! I believe the credit goes to many people behind the scenes, from my team to my predecessors who guided me. Preparation and self-belief are keys to achieving whatever is it you want.

ELLE: How different was the preparation and your experience at Miss Universe as compared to Miss Diva?

AC: For Miss Diva, it was a one-person army. Everything from styling to the strategy was done by me, and that worked out. But for a grand stage like Miss Universe, I had to work with a dynamic team aligning my visions with theirs and drawing a strategy to get there. The path to Miss Universe was a more invested one with regards to the people involved and the time put in to achieve even the smallest of goals.


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A post shared by Adlinne Castelino (@adline_castelinofficial)

ELLE: What were the challenges you faced during these unprecedented times during which the pageant was organised? How did you overcome them?

AC: Being supremely honest, at first, it felt like a splash of cold water with all the plans down the drain. However, I am grateful for how unique this experience was and how much humanity and understanding it brought to my journey. I juggled between online sessions, getting things in place, numerous delays and even contracting COVID weeks before flying for the competition. I got my final gown fixed in hours as I had to leave the country in a hurry due to the ban imposed on flights the next day. One magnificent adventure indeed!

ELLE: Was participating in pageantry always your dream? What motivated you to enter the pageants and pave your way into the industry?

AC: It was never the dream for sure! I always admired the young women and the strength they embodied and never thought of myself as someone who would ever get this chance as a young girl from Kuwait new to this city of dreams. I always want to be relatable, so I usually talk about my journey to inspire girls out there to believe that they are deserving and capable.


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A post shared by Adlinne Castelino (@adline_castelinofficial)

ELLE: Growing up, who were your role models, and how did they influence you?

AC: I always looked up to Indira Gandhi and Princess Diana. I believe I have embodied the former’s visionary and leadership skills and the latter’s politeness and grace.

ELLE: You support many social causes, but the upliftment of farmers and creating awareness/acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community are very close to your heart. Tell us a bit about that.

AC: I come from a farming community, and the only memories I have of my beloved grandparents are of them toiling away in the fields. After hearing about the farmer suicides, how can I have the heart to turn away from the issue?! I work intensely with them. With the LGBTQIA+ community, the only thing missing is people’s will to be more aware and accepting towards them. I feel that the government can play a huge role here.

ELLE: Your look designed by Falguni and Shane Peacock stood out during the evening gown competition. Were you creatively involved in the making? If yes, what were the pointers you emphasised on?

AC: I am really grateful to the fashion power couple Falguni and Shane Peacock for not only giving me such a memorable gown but also during the lockdown when everything was shut. We worked as a team to turn the vision into reality. I always envisioned a golden and white gown.


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A post shared by Adlinne Castelino (@adline_castelinofficial)

ELLE: What was the significance behind the sari that you wore?

AC: We wanted to honour the simple but sophisticated Indian woman who is the queen of her household and her life, especially during the pandemic. The sari fell in line with adorning the dignity and grace of women and transwomen in India.

ELLE: What was the experience of interacting with other participants at Miss Universe? 

AC: Life-changing! Meeting incredibly diverse and well-accomplished women from all around the world really made me realise the importance of supporting each other as women and paving the way for the younger generation.

ELLE: What, according to you, are the most important qualities a true Miss Universe should possess?

AC: The beautiful thing about this platform is that diverse women from different parts of the world have held this coveted title. I personally don’t believe in putting women in boxes, but one thing I know for sure is to always be visionary and have goals no matter where you are in life.

ELLE: What is your advice/message to young girls around the world who want to be a part of Miss Universe?


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A post shared by Adlinne Castelino (@adline_castelinofficial)

AC: To build confidence and take charge not only in families but societies and governments. We have no time to waste but pave ways for the future generations of women, to give them a chance to build an accepting and ecologically sensitive nation.

ELLE: What are your future plans/projects?

AC: There are many but let’s start with the near future ones. I want to do challenging roles in films, only meant for men previously, whether it is to play an angry young woman or a negative, probably a grey character. I have also been very interested in starting a venture in the agricultural business in the coming future.

ELLE: Tell us about your downtime. What’s the one song, book and movie you love?

AC: ‘I will survive’ by Diana Ross is my ultimate favourite. I just finished reading the Autobiography of a Yogi gifted to me by a dear friend. Trust me when I say it has transformed my life, and I would encourage everyone to let this book illuminate them. I love watching the film Swades again.

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