Maria Thattil, 27, of Melbourne was crowned Miss Universe Australia 2020 through a virtual coronation night on October 28, 2020. She bested 25 other candidates.
It was the 16th edition of the beauty pageant that selects Australia’s representative to Miss Universe. The finals was held virtually due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Runner-up to Thattil was Miné Coetser, 18, of Pretoria. The respective second, third and fourth runners-up were Tash Galgut, 22, of Sydney, Maddison Coluccio, 23, of Sydney and Daria Varlamova, 25, of Bryansk.
Rusty Australia’s ladies brand manager Ellena Clark and senior ladies designer Noelle Aguirrebeña Tolosa chose Galgut as the brand’s swimsuit shoot winner. Aside from winning the title, Thattil was also named Miss Congeniality.
If Thattil wins Miss Universe 2020, she will be the beauty pageant’s third titleholder from Australia. The first two were Kerry Anne Wells and Jennifer Hawkins, who were crowned in 1972 and 2004, respectively.
Born and raised in Melbourne, Thattil is of Indian descent. Her Indian parents immigrated from India to Australia.
“Not seeing a lot of South Asian representation meant the majority of kids would ask me things like whether my dad was like Apu from ‘The Simpsons’ because all they saw were exaggerated stereotypes,” Thattil told girl.com.au. “There was a lot of cultural insensitivity.”
Thattil has degrees in psychology and management and is a multihyphenate. Aside from working in People and Culture for the Victorian government, she is also a model, beauty expert, fashion blogger, digital influencer, fashion stylist and makeup artist.
From 2011 to 2013, Thattil went to RMIT University in Melbourne, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology. From 2016 to 2017, she attended the University of Melbourne, where she earned her master’s degree in management.
After Thattil’s internship in BP in Melbourne, she worked as a human resources recruitment consultant at Hays from March 2017 to January 2018. She became a couture brands coordinator for L’Oréal from December 2017 to June 2018 then an HR advisor and contractor for Spotless Group from June 2018 to September 2018.
In September 2018, Thattil joined the North East Link Project as a talent acquisition partner. She became an HR project manager in February 2019 and an HR advisor in February 2020.
The newly crowned Miss Universe Australia 2020 stands 5’3″. As a model, she is represented by Bella Management.
“The platform I have in the fashion and beauty industry has allowed me to unlearn self-rejecting conditioning, reconcile seemingly disparate cultures, my Eastern roots and Western upbringing, to proudly embrace my hybrid identity and represent us in a public sphere,” Thattil told Pop Sugar. “I hope that has shown other South Asian people that they can do the same.”