Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The first Ms. Kurdistan Soraya Fallah introduces Kurdish beauty, fashion, and history to Hollywood!

This report bas been written by Cklara Moradian for publication in different media outlets. It is based on reports by VOKRadio and The Kurdish Perspective’s correspondents. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, contact:

Ms. Soraya Fallah is a gorgeous, resilient, elegant, creative woman with a M.A in International Law and Relations, fluent in several languages, a writer, and a recognized member of her community. She is also a mother of two ambitious children, a dedicated wife to her husband of more than 25 years, and a full-time supervisor and social worker. Many have come to know Soraya Fallah for her insightful analysis and research on human rights issues, her passionate speeches and articles on the plight of Kurdish women and underprivileged children, and for her tireless activism on behalf of Iranian and Kurdish prisoners of conscious. Her leadership and dedication is widely recognized, but few would have expected Soraya to participate in a pageant. No one would deny Soraya’s timeless beauty and elegance, but she is also known as a feminist and a fierce advocate of healthy images of beauty in the media. So when the news spread that she had entered a beauty contest, it was understandable that some raised a few eyebrows. However, Soraya’s reasons for entering a pageant were neither vanity nor fame. She wanted to break a few barriers, not just in her own community, but within the Hollywood circles as well.

Soraya has been working to introduce Kurdish culture to the wider population for years. Unfortunately, conferences, academically focused events, and even public demonstrations receive very little coverage and reach a committed but limited following. It is crucial, however, to reach out to people who have very little knowledge of these subjects and work on creating allies and supporters from brief encounters.
An opportunity for wider outreach arose for Soraya when a charity organization announced that they would be holding a multi-cultural pageant for women over 35 years of age. Since the vision and mission of the organizing committee matched Soraya’s personal and professional commitments, she joined the pageant.

This pageant benefited a 501c tax-except non-for-profit charity foundation called EXOTIFIT FOR HUMANITY. This event was held in order to raise awareness and funds for underprivileged women, children, and physically challenged people, while promoting health, fitness, wellness, beauty and the arts.
It’s safe to argue that there have been only a few pageant contesters of Kurdish background within the United States and even less in California. A quick search online will reveal that pageantry is one industry the Kurdish diaspora has stayed away from. Not all pageants focus primarily on physical appearance but almost all of them enjoy an exceptionally wide range of media coverage and networking opportunities. It can be a fantastic avenue to introduce the beauty and intelligence of Kurdish women, which is why Soraya seized the moment.

Eleven contestants from distinct cultural and professional backgrounds entered to win this pageant and were primarily judged on the amount of funds and sponsorships they were able to raise for the charity. The contestants are all accomplished, strong, active beautiful women 35 and over, most of whom are mothers, creative professionals, and passionate productive members of their communities. Cultures represented at this event were: Ms. USA, Ms. Canada, Ms. Washington, Ms. Iran, Ms. Ukraine, Ms. Malaysia, Ms. Philippines, Ms. Mexico, Ms. El Salvador, Ms. Hungary, and Ms. Kurdistan. The organizer of this event is entrepreneur, businesswomen, and philanthropist Ms. Maria Amor.
The contestants had to attend promotional events nearly every week, including volunteer work, press conference, charity events, and various venues in order to reach out to possible sponsors and donors. Media coverage was consistently present and Soraya had the opportunity to speak about her heritage and urgent human right concerns. During several interviews, Soraya was asked where Kurdistan is located. Very few had any background knowledge of the Kurdish identity, distinct language, customs, and contemporary challenges.
The event prompted generous donations and sponsorship from various businesses, which in turn enjoyed media coverage and sales. The Kurdish community in Southern California was excited at the prospect of Soraya’s visibility. Some members supported her through donations to the charity and/or their attendance at the actual event. Many sent their message of support and encouragement. The following people sponsored Soraya personally: Mr. Diary Ahmad, President of Kurdish community of Southern California; Dr. Kamran Safvati, Tarzana Cosmetic & Wellness Center, Dr.Kamal Artin, and Mr. Ardi Rashidi.
Mr. Jany Dilan from Voice of America interviewed Ms. Kurdistan Soraya Fallah on the importance of introducing Kurdish clothes and culture in Hollywood. VOKRadio was able to send a press correspondent Omeed Rafizadeh to cover the event and record video footage of the pageant. Kurdish Perspective also covered the event by requesting exclusive photographs taken by professional photographer Rita Nessian. Photos will be published on their website soon.

On Friday May 20th, 2011 the glamorous beauty pageant, MS. EXOTI-LADY WORLD 2011, was held at the Universal Hilton Hotel, hosted by EXOTIFIT INTERNATIONAL INC. More than 1000 guests, 50 plus Sponsors, 30 plus VIP/celebrities and performers, 100 plus media (local and international) arrived on the red carpet to experience this very unique celebration of women in their prime age. Dinner and entertainment was provided. The event was televised by Time Warner Cable Video On Demand, and will be available for viewing for the entirety of June, 2011.

In a recent interview with a Los Angeles based magazine, Soraya said: “[this pageant] is an affirmation that beauty is recognized regardless of age and ethnicity. More than anything, it is an opportunity to help people who are in need, and send a positive message to people we might not have otherwise reached.” She explained that her main motivation in becoming Ms. Kurdistan was to have the platform to educate. “Educating others can come in many forms such as embodying beauty, setting a positive example for the younger generation, becoming a well-rounded, intelligent, healthy, and active woman, and taking a stance against violence and injustice.”

Soraya looked stunning at the event. She introduced herself to the guests in her native tongue of Sorani Kurdish and wore a modernized Kurdish dress for her fashion wear runway. This dress was designed and sown by Soraya herself.

At an earlier gathering, Soraya performed two Kurdish songs accompanied by live music played by Armenian multi-instrumentalist George Gyznalyan.
Other than a few independent Kurdish films made in recent years, Hollywood has had very little to no interaction with Kurds. Almost everyone who came across Soraya was intrigued and impressed. Many celebrity guests, designers, and producers showed interest in learning more. Perhaps one of the best outcomes of the event was the impression Soraya was able to leave on the Kurdish youth who attended the event. They were both excited to be at a red carpet show and fun celebration, as well as proud that their identity was being represented by someone as incredible as Soraya Fallah.

We thank Ms. Exoti-Lady Kurdistan Soraya Fallah for her dedication to her Kurdish culture, and encourage others to seek out positive avenues to educate the host country of their Kurdish identity.

Attached to this report are a few links to recent press releases, radio interviews, and ads featuring this pageant:

Photos can be viewed on the official Ms.Exoti-Lady Kurdistan’s facebook page
More detailed videos of the event will be available this coming week.

The following links are provided for your information:
VOA interview with Ms.Exoti-Lady Kurdistan (in Kurdish):

Evening Gown Ms.Exoti-Lady Kurdistan:

Fashion Wear Ms.Exoti-Lady Kurdistan (minute 3:44):

Swimwear Ms.Exoti-Lady Kurdistan (minute 0:30):

Magazine interview before the Pageant:

About the event:
E! Ad:

About the CEO and Founder of the event:

The foundation’s Facebook page:

Recent Interviews with MARIA AMOR, Founder and CEO of Exotifit for Humanity:

Universal Hilton press release:

Recent Media coverage:\