We had the good fortune of connecting with Jaya Madray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jaya, how do you think about risk?
I think that risk taking is a major part of life. In order to achieve any goal, it starts with taking some sort of risk- whether that risk be big or small. Within my own life, while it may not have been easy, taking risks has attributed to some of my most valuable accomplishments. For example, there hasn’t been much Indo-Caribbean representation in certain industries, so it was challenging for me to make certain decisions without having a specific example to look up to. Competing in pageants was one of those decisions. However, I persisted and took that risk- even with the scarcity of other competitors that looked like me. Little did I know that that risk would lead me to some of the best moments of my life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Professionally, I have dabbled in various areas. For a while, I was freelance modeling- shooting with many photographers, and walking runway for many designers. Attending the Fashion Institute of Technology allowed me to connect with other creators, and led me to so many wonderful opportunities. While I have competed in multiple pageant organizations over the years, competing in Miss New York USA was one of the most exhilarating and groundbreaking experiences that I’ve had in pageantry. As far as I have seen, it was rare to see another woman of Indo-Caribbean/Guyanese descent compete in pageants, especially within the Miss Universe Organization. The lack of representation was a challenge that I had to overcome, and instead use it as an opportunity. While I had never really “fit in” in so many spaces, I still decided to persist despite my fears. It took lots of preparation and hard work, but I was so honored to have made the Top 21 out of 147 other contestants. This experience has only led me to not only want to continue on in pageantry, but also continue on in whatever aspiration I wish to take on, as it has shown me that anything is possible. Currently, I am in the process of starting my own jewelry business, and advocacy group based around mental health. While these are other risks that might have many challenges and confusions, I am choosing to be confident in myself, my strength, my passions, and my capabilities.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
LA is one of the most vibrant and lively places that I have ever been to. Being the explorer that I am, I would fill up a week with various activities. I love to hike, so we would definitely hit up Runyon Canyon, and of course, we gotta do the Hollywood Hills! What a view. Also, perhaps a brunch day at Chateau Marmont? The pancakes are to die for. And I don’t know what it is about the tacos in LA, but that would absolutely be on the menu of food to eat within the city.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mom deserves so much recognition in helping mold me into the person that I am today. She entered me in my first pageant at the age of four, and continued to push me in pursuing my goals within pageantry, dance, modeling, and my academics. Not only has she supported me in my endeavors, but she has supported me in my personal goals as well. Being the only girl out of four kids brought me closer to my mom, as she has always been the only other female that I have looked up to and the embodiment of a strong woman. My mother made a lot of sacrifices for her family throughout her adulthood, which has led me to not only admire her as a woman, but also wish to fulfill dreams that she may not have had the chance to fulfill on her own. Hearing and seeing her experiences has shown me how strong and capable women really are, and has influenced me to always keep going even when things get rough, because there is always strength that lies within me.
Brad Harter, Edwin Shaw, Xu Studio, Tarishi Gupta, Dan Knafo