What inspired an engineering graduate to quit her career and take up modeling?
I was studying engineering in information technology. During my time in college I was also the creative head of my club and we were organizing this beauty contest called Miss Fresh Face. Once it started, some of my friends had put my name forward, so I entered the competition. When the anchor called my name out, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t know a thing about beauty contests, so as I went up, the anchor asked me what special talent I would perform today. I had no idea, so I thought to myself, I am just going to walk back and forth (haha). Anyways, there were many rounds and I ended up getting selected and became the 1st runner up. When I saw myself in the newspaper the very next day, I thought to myself, I can do this! And that’s how it all began. I made the move to Delhi, to try and see how things would go, and that’s when Gunita from Anima Creative Management scouted me and I moved to Mumbai.
I did not plan for it, and neither did I ever think that someday I would be a professional model. It really is a wonder that it all even happened and now I am here in NYC and I absolutely love my life and my work.
You joined the industry without knowing anyone – what were some of the challenges you faced initially and how did you overcome them?
There were times that I thought to myself, that I wish I had some support or at least some person in my life who knew how to go about things, but at the same time I really liked trying out something new. I enjoyed making my own decisions and going with my gut feelings without being influenced by anyone else, so it was more of mixed feelings that I had. All my agencies are really sweet, and especially my mother agency, Anima Creatives, they gave me a lot of support and I feel like I can talk to them about anything, so when it comes to work, I feel lucky that way.
A model’s life is not easy – it requires a lot of patience, hard work and a stable head on the shoulders – how do you balance it all?
Correct, a lot of that patience is required, and everything else too, especially a stable head. There were moments when I was prepared for what to expect but also moments that unexpected things happened, which I wasn’t ready for! So it’s like every situation brought out a different side of me and now I feel very stable and I feel like I am shaped by all the experiences I have had in life. I am comfortable with the person I’ve become, I am not saying I am perfect but I think one needs to love oneself first. I know I have worked really hard to become the person I am today, both spiritually and professionally, and I am very excited for how the next five years will shape up.
You are one of India’s most popular faces internationally – how did the transition happen and how has shifting base evolved you?
I never really felt the transition that much, because for me, I was just doing my job. The work I did was very well received in India and all of a sudden I was getting so many messages of congratulations and wishes and interviews, especially after the Louis Vuitton show. I literally felt like it was my birthday. I guess that reinforced my confidence and made me work even harder.
What are the three key differences you have encountered between the Indian and International modeling industry?
Everyone is really punctual here [there are no chai breaks!] but I do love th¬e chai breaks in India sometimes. There are many more castings to go to abroad and the sets are less busy.
With social media influencing the minds of many—do models have to be influencers as well—what kind of role do you play in the fashion industry as of today?
I prefer to use my social media to be an extension of my personality, and be more natural. It really depends on the person, and on how they want to present themselves. Some models love to be influencers and some like to share their experiences so you can be whoever you want to be.
Lastly where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Somewhere sunny, maybe on a lovely beach on vacation with some close friends.
Text Shruti Kapur Malhotra