Bully victim turned beauty queen: Palmer grad wins Miss Universe Canada

Richmonds Sahar Biniaz finally reached the News and apologized for calling late. It seems the stunning, leggy 26-year-old who was crowned Miss Universe Canada 2012 Saturday night, beating out 62 other contestants has been inundated with television requests.

Its hard not to like Biniaz. She comes across as intelligent, caring and genuinely sweet.

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Im excited, Im proud it was an absolutely amazing moment, she said. My dad called me from Iran to congratulate me and both my parents were extremely proud and happy for me.

In my home country, a woman could be killed for appearing in a pageant.

Since Saturday, the beauty queens life has been a whirlwind of appearances and engagements, and it doesn't look like that is going to end anytime soon.

As Miss Universe Canada, Biniaz will spend the year traveling to each province, taking part in a number of commitments.

She will also be representing the pageants charity, SOS Childrens Village.

I will be heading to South America in August, where I will be heavily involved with different cities to talk about the charity and to bring donated computers to some schools there, said Biniaz. This year, I want to be the best ambassador for Canada that I can be.

She sees her win as a stepping stone for bringing awareness to charitable causes that are dear to me.

One such cause is the B.C. Transplant Society.

Four years ago, I lost my 25-year-old cousin when he was killed in a horrible car accident, she said. I remember my mom called to tell me that his heart had been donated and saved someones life.

Did you know that only 18 per cent of British Columbians have signed to be organ donors? It doesn't cost a thing to save someones life.

Biniaz was born in India and raised in Iran, before immigrating to Richmond with her family at the age of 10. She is the youngest of three older sister, Sahaz Busink, 34, is an artist in Squamish and brother, Sohel Biniaz, 30, and is an entrepreneur.

She attended Richmond secondary and ultimately graduated from R.C. Palmer secondary. She said Richmond secondary wasnt easy for her. Biniaz was bullied mercilessly in Grade 8 for wearing clothes that werent hip enough.

After being beaten in the school washroom, which ended up with Biniaz being sent to hospital, she transferred to Palmer.

High school werent the best years for me, she said, adding her mom still lives in Richmond.

At 15, the burgeoning beauty started modeling. That same year, she hired an agent and began auditioning for acting and commercial roles.

At 19, Biniaz headed to Stella Adler Academy in Los Angeles to study acting. She graduated with honours in performing arts.

This isnt the first time she competed in the pageant. The first time was in 2008, when the then 22-year-old finished first runner-up.

Up until the pageant, she was working as an actress in film and television something Biniaz concedes she has to put on hold for at least a year.

Her resume is lengthy. She has guest-starred more than once in the television science fiction series, Sanctuary as Kali; guest-starred in two episodes of the new Spike TV series Blue Mountain State; and appeared in Smallville as Shiera Hall.

Biniaz also has a film coming out in August called Ambrosia, which will be featured at film festivals across the country.

When asked if she has a boyfriend, Biniaz said, It takes too much energy and focus to keep a relationship going and this year I will be traveling a lot and Ill be really busy it just wouldnt be fair, she said.

Now that she fulfilled her dream of winning Miss Universe Canada, whats next for this beauty queen?

I have big dreams and big goals, she said. One is to climb Mount Everest and to continue to pursue my acting career.

I especially want to break the barriers for Persian actors.

Meantime, the newly-crowned Miss Universe Canada will now go on to represent Canada at the international 2012 Miss Universe competition to be held in mid-December. The host city has not been announced yet.

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