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Dhaval Panchal was in high school walking back to class after lunch, when a scout from the Barbizon Modeling and Acting School asked if he’d like to become a model.
It was a moment that changed his life. As expected, his desi parents were reluctant – they wanted him to focus on school, but Dhaval persuaded them he’d only model as a hobby. Eventually he did graduate from University of South Carolina with a double major in Computer Science and Fine Arts, but what started as a hobby, soon became a career.
Competing in pageants was an eyeopener for Dhaval, especially with how differently men and women were treated. “ What really shocked me was that only the female competitors were asked questions – not us men! The men were only judged on looks, talent and how we walked – not our intelligence!”
His dancing skills helped him nail the Mr. India Global 2018 crown in Los Angeles, “a dream come true!” says Dhaval, who added to his collection of titles – Mr. India America East Coast 2014 and Mr. South Asia USA 2015 among others.
Dhaval’s goal is to be cast as a romantic lead in a Hollywood movie; he’s been an extra in The Hunger Games, The Internship, Let’s Be Cops and The Mule and acted on TV shows such as Homeland, Necessary Roughness Season 2, and Single Ladies.
Meanwhile, Dhaval is excited to be a brand ambassador for Express and recently finished a promotion for their partnership with the NBA.
While waiting for his big break in the movies, Dhaval has his legs firmly planted on the ground. He owns an Amazon drop ship company and also works as an insurance agent in four states. And from time to time, Dhaval still helps out his parents with their motel business.
As Dhaval pursues his dream of a movie career, he stays positive and challenges himself because, “I want to inspire others to follow their dreams. I live by the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The future depends on what you do today.”
Anjana Nagarajan-Butaney is a Bay Area resident with experience in educational non-profits, community building, networking and content development, and, was Community Director for an online platform. She is interested in how to strengthen communities by building connections to politics, science & technology, gender equality and public education.
Edited by contributing editor Meera Kymal