During the 70th Miss Universe coronation night on Dec. 12, Steve Harvey brought up the top 16 finalists and interviewed them about their accomplishments. The night's winner, India's Harnaaz Sandhu, was asked something else: to do an animal impersonation onstage.
While Sandhu gamely indulged the host and meowed for pageant fans, the long-time host faced criticism for the quirky request from fans on social media. They said the interview was "frustrating" and "ridiculous," but the crowned Miss Universe 2021 queen said she loved the question.
"We were having so much fun, and that was my ultimate goal, to make everyone laugh," she told Insider on Dec. 14. "And when you have a great human being like Steve next to you, then you just can't stop being yourself. And I was just having fun and enjoying myself," she said.
Although she was shocked at the question at first, the 21-year-old actress/model said she went along with the impersonation because it was her "time to shine and showcase my great talents."
"I wanted to make the most out of it," she added. "I think everybody was in the moment and everyone enjoyed it, and that's what really matters at the end of the day."
Sandhu also told Insider that she didn't agree with the criticisms hurled at Harvey and said it was a dream of hers to stand next to him on the Miss Universe stage.
"I'm happy I was asked a fun question because, at the end of the day, [the pageant] definitely gets so serious," she shared.
"But after that question, I was feeling so comfortable," the beauty queen added. "We are here to celebrate ourselves. It's not about being the perfect beauty pageant girl. It's about being yourself on the stage, and I think it takes huge courage to do something like that."
Harvey has become a staple host for the pageant since 2015 (he only missed out on hosting the 2020 edition) and has made a number of blunders on the grand stage from announcing the wrong winner, to saying the wrong country.