Dia Mirza Handrich nicknamed Dee and more popularly known as Dia Mirza was born on December 9, 1981 in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India , is a Indian model and actress who appears in Bollywood films. She was second runner up at Femina Miss India, 2000 and was subsequently sent to Miss Asia Pacific, 2000, where she won. She completed the hat-trick of India winning international pageants in the year 2000 (Lara Dutta won the Miss Universe title and Priyanka Chopra won the Miss World title in the same year) when she won the Miss Asia Pacific title on 3 December 2000 in Manila, Philippines, also making her the first Indian contestant to win this title in 29 years.
Dia Mirza was born in Hyderbad, Andhra Pradesh. Her father, Frank Handrich, was a German graphic and industrial fair designer, architect, artist and interior designer from Munich and her mother, Deepa is a Bengali Indian who is an interior designer, landscaper and currently does social work as a volunteer to help alcoholics and addicts. They separated when she was six years old. Her father died when she was nine and her mother remarried Ahmed Mirza, who died in 2004. She adopted her stepfather’s surname Mirza and has recently adopted the last name of her birth-father and became Dia Mirza Handrich.
When living in Khairatabad, Hyderabad, she attended Vidyaranya High School for Boys And Girls, a school based on the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti, and later Nasr School, in Khairtabad. She completed her graduation in Bachelors of Arts from Open University, Hyderabad.
Mirza started working at the age of 16 years while continuing her college education. She worked as a marketing executive in a multi-media firm called Dr. Neeraj’s Multi media studio. She simultaneously modeled for the print and television advertisement campaigns of various brands such as Walls, Lipton, Emami etc. Mirza wanted to complete her graduation in Arts by correspondence, but decided to postpone it as it was becoming difficult to juggle between the Miss Asia Pacific competition, modeling assignments, traveling and training. She was assisted by Sabira Merchant on diction and etiquette; diet with Anjali Mukherjee; gymnasium and physical fitness with Talwalkars; clothes from Ritu Kumar and Hemant Trivedi; skin care with Dr. Jamuna Pai; and make-up and hair-care from Bharat and Doris Godambe. She is proficient in Telugu,Bengali, Hindi and English.
Mirza made her cinematic debut with Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein opposite R. Madhavan. Though, the film was not a box office success, but she received a nomination for ‘Best Female Debut’ at the Zee Cine Awards.
In 2005, Mirza appeared in Parineeta, a Vidhu Vinod Chopra production. She also starred in the music video, Kajara Mohabbat Wala alongside Sonu Nigam from his album Kajara Nite. The album contained multiple remixes, but was mainly advertised with the title song, sung by Sonu Nigam and Alisha Chinai.
She also appeared in the films Dus and Fight Club. She was the only female actor among the six key characters in the film, Acid Factory in which she played a femme fatale who is also a gangster.
Mirza has been involved with Cancer Patients Aid Association, Spastics Society of India, and has worked extensively with government of Andhra Pradesh to spread HIV awareness, prevention of female foeticide, PETA, CRY and most recently the NDTV Greenathon – an effort to find tangible solutions against pollution and book, “Deke Dheko” by Radio Mirchi (a campaign initiated to collect books for underprivileged children). Her other hobbies include writing, reading, painting, pottery, horse riding and theater. She has written several articles for The Hindustan Times and various other publications as a guest writer. She is on the board of the Coca Cola foundation that works towards development in rural India. She recently adopted 2 cheetah cubs at the Prince of Wales zoological park in Lucknow.
Mirza and fellow-actor Aamir Khan publicly expressed support for the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a group protesting the building of a dam. This aroused the ire of political activists from the Bharatiya Janata Party, who led a protest march against the actress.