(2005) Aishwarya gets British government honour

As the Indian press continues to hammer at Aishwarya Rai, one more international honour has come her way – the British government’s The Next Step World Diversity Champion award.

The award, to be given by the British foreign office on Nov 24 this year, was instituted to honour individuals who have encouraged pride in being a member of the ethnic minority community as well as a stronger sense of personal fulfilment.

The award, in collaboration with the Next Steps Foundation, is considered a prestigious step ahead for Ash in the international arena.

She is expected to address issues related to ethnicity at the conference in November, where the other speakers are expected to be former US secretary of state Colin Powell and actor Jackie Chan.

Says the actress: “I think it’s a great honour. Today beauty has come to be defined by many other far more profound qualities than looks and posture. I hope people would stop holding my looks against me and labelling me giggly and frivolous.

“Look at Angelina Jolie. I think she’s so gorgeous… and so real. She’s a student of yoga and she works for the United Nations. She’s a complete personality, and illustrates what feminine beauty means in the new millennium.”

Murli Manohar, who’s the producer of Ash’s much talked about “Provoked” and also a prominent spokesperson of the Indian community in London, says the award is vital to her image as a fashion icon.

“She’s no longer considered just a beauty queen. And I think her role of the real-life battered wife in ‘Provoked’ has something to do with her growing image as a spokesperson for Indian women. The fact that she’ll be honoured at the ‘Next Step For The Next Europe Conference’ where the speakers will be former US secretary of state Colin Powell and Jackie Chan speaks volumes of Ash’s reach as an Asian icon.

“Jackie Chan was chosen for the award some time ago for the same reason as Ash: they both represent the glamorous face of Asian entertainment while championing the cause of their country and gender.”

- Ians

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