Born and raised in Russia, Nina Kant Mandal has a passion for travel and exploring cultures. She is fluent in three languages, namely Russian, English, and Spanish with Nepali in the learning pipeline.
Nina started her modeling career as a hobby and took it up professionally two years back. Owing to the profession’s creativity and new experiences, she decided to combine modeling and pageantry and was the 2nd Runner up for Miss Universe Nepal 2020.
Could you elaborate on your traveling passion?
I love traveling. Before the whole pandemic, I would travel almost every month either for work or to visit my friends and relatives. Most trips were to Europe because it’s close and easier to travel. But it is incredible to switch places, explore new cities, soak in the environment, new food, and new experiences.
I have so many favorite places because it all depends on the emotions I get from the place. The most memorable trip has been with my family. We took a trip to Italy, which was a birthday surprise that my dad and I had planned for my mom. It was one of the happiest ones because my mom’s smile at the surprise warmed my heart.
This recent trip to Nepal has been the brightest one because in that short time so much happened. I felt like the trip lasted for months even though it was just a couple of weeks. I would love to come back to Nepal and explore a lot more including my roots.
How do you combine your modeling career and pageantry?
Modeling and pageantry have a lot in common, yet they are different. They’re both creative fields and have a lot to do with confidence – something that I struggled with as a teenager. I was always shy and hesitant to talk to new people.
I believe that modeling and pageantry actually helped me to open up and not be afraid. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to go into pageantry because I knew that it would help with my communication skills, presentation skills, and stage presence. So, pageantry has been that boost of confidence and self-worth.
How has your journey been in Miss Universe Nepal?
I was very excited yet hesitant to go into this because I questioned: what if I’m not good enough for this? But I decided to give it a shot and it was the best decision. This experience has created a path for my future development in my career.
Also, through MUN, I’ve met so many incredible people in different industries. Furthermore, I’ve met my sisters (as we call it) and created a bond that will be there for the rest of our lives.
What were some of the struggles you faced during MUN?
While I work as a model, we do not usually speak in front of cameras. The struggle was to put my words together in a way that will impact people and make them understand my point of view.
At first, I was terrified to give interviews. But I learned how to collect my thoughts and speak my mind and my heart. While that was one of the struggles, I’d learned so much that by the end of the journey, I realized that I’d become a much better speaker, and I wasn’t not afraid of giving interviews anymore.
What are you currently doing these days after MUN?
After returning, I tried to spend as much time with my family as I could. Also, it was first my brother’s birthday, then birthday, and now it’s my boyfriend’s birthday. Technically we’re just celebrating a birthday together. Also, I have been trying to plan out what I want to do for the month and different things that I want to work on throughout the year.
The whole trip to Nepal and Miss Universe Nepal has been a huge boost of emotion. It was stressful but also exciting and joyous. So, I decided to take some time off to just settle down, clear my thoughts and build paths for this year.
What was the social cause you were supporting during Miss Universe Nepal?
One social cause that I will always support is mental health and trying to get rid of the stigma that surrounds mental health. I am still working on developing my project, which I will be launching very soon.
I physically did not go anywhere due to the pandemic. But online I speak up about mental health through my videos and posts. Basically, trying to speak up about this as much as I could through social media.
What did you think of the Miss Universe crown that was made by Apala?
When I first saw the crown, I was like, “Wow, that is just beautiful”.
The meaning behind it is very important as well because often you just look at the crown as a jewelry piece. But when I heard that the three stones represent Brave, Bold, and Beautiful, which is the motto of Miss Universe Nepal, I wanted to win that crown. I wanted to see it on my head but that did not happen.
Furthermore, I believe that the crown represents the change that Miss Universe Nepal has brought to the country because so many new things happened for the first time in pageantry for Nepal, which gives even more meaning and weight to this crown.
Do you hope for future collaborations with Apala?
Yes, of course! I admire Apala’s jewelry pieces. We had a photoshoot with Apala as well and as I put it on I felt like I was just special. I looked beautiful and elegant, and that is something I would love to experience again when I come back to Nepal.
What are your plans?
Honestly, I am very open to new experiences in the future. I want to go with the flow because the past year has taught me that the situation in the world is very unstable. But I’m trying to set plans for the month and not too far ahead because things might change very quickly.
Of course, I have set some plans for the future but they’re also very broad, as I want to explore myself, push my boundaries, gather new experiences, and improve with each day.