Beating the odds : Photos


She says that suspense is the spice of life. Having undergone many traumatic experiences due to a sports injury at such a tender age, one has to admire her courage, determination, positive outlook and sunny nature.

“My life has always been a winding road. So I take the path it unfolds. Even when I plan something I think is good, God seems to like to shake my world and give me something better than I ever set for myself. It’s nerve wrecking, true, but all the more exciting when you never know where the journey takes you!,” notes the bubbly beauty who has represented the nation at the Miss Grand International pageant held in Thailand last year.

Right now Ornella Mariam Gunesekere is in the middle of completing her education. She also helps her mother out with her party store, ‘The Party Station’ in Colpetty.

Q:If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be

A: I would like VERY much to be financially independent! Ha, ha...

Q: Do you have any nicknames

A: My mom called me ‘Nelly’ from when I was a kid which carried into school and it’s now my common pet name. I’m also called ‘Titanium Girl’ by close family and friends as an act of encouragement after having two major spine surgeries where I had Titanium metal rods and screws fused into my lower back.

Q: What interests you about hospitality and management

A: I like the fact that it’s service oriented. People who work in the service industry have everyday chances to help people and solve problems for them and that’s a powerful job to have, because you can really be a key person in making a person’s day better - or worse! (Laughs)

Q: What is your favourite quote out of all of those you have memorized

A: My favorite quote and one I use as my anchor quote in life is one said by country sweetheart Dolly Parton, “In order to get to the rainbow - you must be willing, to put up with the rain.” It reminds me that in life you’ve got to have perseverance and understanding enough to know that nothing promising and beautiful (rainbows) comes without hard work (rain) and difficulty (mud - don’t forget the mud when it rains too!)

Q: Are you interested in acting

A: I have been given opportunities to act, both locally and internationally, but honestly, I have never had a personal desire to get into it. Then again neither did I have any desire to be in pageants or model, but there I was! Ha, ha. So, no. BUT, if I did get into acting, it would be a role of mystery and action. Make me the lead female detective with a sassy persona (like Kate Beckett from ‘Castle’) and we have ourselves a deal! (Lol)

Q: What does it take to win the Miss Grand Sri Lanka crown

A: The Miss Grand International pageant promotes peace and goodwill and the platform stands against war. It takes the right people who see the right kind of potential that a Miss Grand Sri Lanka should possess and these should be that she is informed, amicable, strong, bold and willing to believe and voice the message of the international pageant.

Q: What is your most memorable moment during the Miss Grand International 2015 pageant in Thailand

A: Everyday was something new and exciting and I miss it all. One thing that really sticks out is when they announced Sri Lanka had been voted “Miss Popular,” among 78 countries. This automatically shot me into the Top 10 because I was voted in as the People’s Choice winner. (Flashes a victorious smile) What better award could there be!

Q: If your life is a song, which song would it be

A: African - Norwegian group Nico and Vinz’s

‘Am I Wrong’. Due to my sports injury all through my teenage years, I could not follow the regular cookie cutter lifestyle society has at work. I was home-schooled and got involved with my parents’ company from the age of 16. I was also in and out of hospital and faced dangerous surgeries all before I was 21! I had to make my own way, and follow life as it happened and even though it was difficult because people did not understand why my journey was different, I still believed and believe in my dream. This song is about breaking the odds and going for what you dream of despite how far fetched your dreams may seem to everyone else.

Q: What do you do for fun

A: I am a very introverted, homebody by nature. Fun for me is staying in, reading online articles or spending hours on end watching space videos on YouTube. I find great joy in playing with my dogs, long walks, and the odd binge of TV series like ‘Castle’ or ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.

Q: What is the best beauty tip you can give another woman

A: There is a lot of beauty in intelligence. Intelligence is simply- being aware. Take time to learn about things, a variety of different things. Ask questions, be open minded, and be able to be moulded and share and exchange ideas and thoughts. Beauty is having humility enough to know you don’t know everything but confident enough to know you have the ability to learn.

As for beauty on a physical aspect, know that water helps your body glow and feel energized-stay hydrated!

Q: If you were given an opportunity to render your voice to any animation character in a movie made so far, which character would you choose

A: Tigress from ‘Kung Fu Panda’. She battled anger issues and had trouble managing her incredible strength after being orphaned. This made it hard for her to be accepted socially. I experience anxiety which hinders me and as Tigress indulged in isolation, so do I. But Tigress goes on to be trained and taught discipline by Master Shifu and he helps turn her greatest challenges into her greatest strength (literally!) Her character is someone I resonate with and hope to end up like. Also, who wouldn’t want to be a brave, fierce tigress voiced by the legendary woman herself, Angelina Jolie Rawr! (Bursts into laughter)

Q: What do you consider as your good luck charm

A: I don’t believe in good luck charms but I can say that the only constant that’s helped me move forward in life, opened doors for me and given me opportunities are people. Your network is your net worth! It is the kindness of those who have seen my potential and pushed me forward in life that I am grateful to God for, and to the wonderful people themselves.

Q: If you could rule the world for a day, what would you do during that day

A: If I ruled the world, I would have only one rule for the world - “When the Power of Love overcomes the love of power, then this world will know Peace.” (Jimi Hendrix)

Q: What turns you on in a man and what turns you off

A: There is only one man who can turn me on and it was his honesty and transparency that won my heart. He also has an incredible amount of patience.

(Grimacing) Arrogance/pride/ego really tests my patience.

(In a serious tone) Here’s a little advice to both men and women; be loyal or be single, be open about who you are and what you want out of a relationship, be brave but not cocky and lastly, a warm heartfelt smile is a great way to start!

Q: What would you like your tomb stone to read someday

A: “You Made It Worthwhile”

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