Sonia Dara - The First Desi American Model at SI

At the age of 20 Sonia Dara has reasons to feel that she has already made it. She became the first Indian to appear in the celebrated annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, America's number one best-selling glossy.


Sports Illustrated describes her as, "Sonia, the daughter of Indian immigrants, was discovered at an AMTC event when she was 16. She has worked with clients such as Cosmo Girl, Seventeen, Neiman Marcus and Vogue India and is also a sophomore at Harvard College."


It was probably her Harvard connection that prompted The Wall Street Journal to interview her, not a mean feat by any standard. Being asked, how she felt about representing the Indian community as a high-profile model, she replied, "I realize that being the first Indian-American to pose for SI is somewhat of a responsibility and I do have to be mindful of the way I present myself." Wise comments for a 20-year old!


With her 5' 11" height and sharp, distinctive features she is in high demand for modeling and has appeared in Valentino, Saks and Versace. She grew up in Atlanta where her parents settled after emigrating from India in the early 1980s. She signed with Elite Atlanta after winning the Miss Teen India Georgia Pageant at the age of 13.


Her mother Poornima Dara explained to the Harvard Crimson that she was allowed to model only after her school hours, and with the condition that she could keep up a 4.0 GPA.


Becoming an economics Major at Harvard, Sonia kept her part of the bargain alive, and she has such a great demand in her other profession that when The New Paper approached her agency Elite New York for an interview, her publicist informed that she is "currently tied up with fashion shows in Paris" and they have to wait.

Being so young Sonia has ample time to mark her class in whatever field she chooses to venture, although that decision would not be easy when the time would arrive.