Sushmita Sen was crowned Femina Miss India in 1994 and she later won the Miss Universe 1994 pageant at the age of 18. Sen is the first Indian woman to win the competition.
In 1994, as a teenager, Sen participated in the Femina Miss India contest. She won the title 'Femina Miss India Universe', earning the right to compete at the Miss Universe 1994 contest.
At the Miss Universe contest, Sen ranked third overall in the preliminaries, behind Miss Colombia Carolina Gómez and Miss Greece Rea Totounzi. Sen went on to place second, fifth and third in the subsequent rounds and finally won the title and crown of Miss Universe 1994. She was the first Indian to win the title.
After the Times Group relinquished the rights to choose the Indian representative to Miss Universe, Sen's project, I Am She – Miss Universe India, took over. It ran for three years (from 2010 to 2012). In 2013, Femina was awarded the contract back.
As a celebration of 65th Miss Universe, 23 years after winning the pageant, she returned to Manila, Philippines, in January 2017, as one of the judges of the Miss Universe 2016 beauty pageant. The pageant took place at the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines on January 30, 2017. Joining her as judges were Cynthia Bailey, Mickey Boardman, Francine LaFrak, Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes, and Miss Universe 1993 Dayanara Torres.