How I find balance — April 2016

Sanjay Mohanta keeps balance by volunteering with the Canadian Film Institute and acting as a beauty pageant judge in his spare time.

Sanjay Mohanta, Ottawa, sole practitioner, Canadian Film Institute ambassador, beauty pageant judge

I got into beauty pageants by accident. I was in a restaurant when 60 women who looked like models walked through. I asked what they were doing and they said they were in [a] Miss Canada [pageant]. I asked to speak to their organizer, who was also there, and told her I could get judges; I did that for a couple of years and then they asked me to be a host. In 2011, the winner [of Miss Canada Galaxy] was an African refugee; as someone who came from India myself, it was my proudest moment. At another pageant, I was a judge and I met the girls backstage. Half of them were late, and many were too busy texting to talk. A couple were responsive and professional so I watched them during the competition. At the end of it, all the judges agreed it was between those two. You have to treat [the pageant] like a job.

During that time, I was also sitting on other boards. I was invited to go to a play at the US Embassy called the Hijabi Monologues about women in the US who wore the hijab after 9-11. I suggested they host a free encore presentation for the larger community, which I eventually organized. With the Canadian Film Institute, I also do what I call “a gift to the city,” in which I host a free film screening. In 2014, we showed a film about how Jews were treated in Bulgaria in the Second World War.

I tend to balance it all by working my day job from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. so I have evening hours to devote to volunteering. It gives me a [creative] outlet.