Teenager Sriya Lenka has become the newest Indian K-pop star after joining South Korean girl group Blackswan.
The 18-year-old from the state of Odisha in eastern India and Brazilian artist Gabriela Dalcin were introduced as the latest members of the new roster of Blackswan, formerly known as Rania. The group, which launched in 2011, also includes original members Youngheun, Judy, Leia and Fatou.
Lenka, who will go by her stage name Sriya, was chosen via Cygnus, a project organized by South Korean management company DR Music that helps young artists achieve their dreams in the entertainment industry.
Blackswan’s newest members passed DR Music’s six-month-long audition last year, with company director Philip YJ Yoon commenting that Lenka and Dalcin collaborated well with each other. They began their Korean language lessons and training in dancing and singing in December 2021.
“They showed us very positive energy when sticking together and achieving each of the assignments they needed to overcome. It was one of the reasons we decided not to separate them,” Yoon told Press Trust of India.
DR Music launched a global search for new Blackswan members after former member Hyeme left the group in November 2020.
Lenka was introduced to K-pop after listening to Exo and soon became a fan of different boy groups, from BTS and Stray Kids to The Boyz. She started auditioning in 2020 after learning that several K-pop labels were running online auditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. To get her up to speed on Korean culture, the Indian artist learned Korean online and watched several K-dramas. By December 2021, Lenka was chosen out of around 4,000 girls as a finalist for Blackswan.
Lenka said her newfound K-pop career is “like a dream,” but her journey to fame was challenging since she failed several auditions before joining Blackswan. Even so, the Indian artist told DR Music in February that she did not want to abandon her dreams because she “really wanted to become a K-pop idol.”
“Everyone in India tries Bollywood but I wanted to do something for my country, so I decided to pursue the K-pop dream,” Lenka was quoted as saying.