Interview with India Australia Goodwill Ambassador 2018 Saroni Roy
“With every experience you’re pushing boundaries, exploring new territories, physically and intellectually.”
Saroni, how would you introduce yourself to our readers and what are you passionate about? I am an actor, model and independent success & lifestyle writer, based in Sydney. I moved to Australia about 4 years ago, and post my CELTA graduation, I started teaching English to speakers of other languages at various language centers in Sydney. This was very satisfying, since I was now an enabler in shaping a global society, where people from various corners of the world who speak different languages, can aspire to work and communicate clearly at any part of the world, by speaking the internationally accepted English language and become global citizens. I was always passionate about making a real difference in people’s lives, using my skills and knowledge, creating a more inclusive ‘One World’ to live and love.
And second is my passion for the visual and the performing arts. Since I was 3 years old, I got my training in Indian classical dance forms and later in Flamenco. And since then the stage was my passion, my world! But I never thought I would take up acting professionally! It was only last year when I was suffering from excruciating nerve pain in my left leg, that I had to quit my teaching job, and was on bed rest, that was the time I started studying acting. I got my training in screen acting from prestigious film schools in Sydney, got coached by some of the finest industry veterans, made some great friends in the Australian creative industry.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? I would say two things, acting & working for a good cause. Acting is more like a healing process for me, a way of life! It’s the one profession which I feel uses each spec of my talent, skills, good and bad genes, optimally, constructively! From my expressive eyes, to my body, my voice, mannerisms, intrinsic nature, thought process, interpretation, personality, you’re just using everything to portray a character created by someone else, set in another world! This deeply involving process helped me deal with the physical pain and stress related to my health issues. It gives me this innate sense of peace, accomplishment and purpose in life. It keeps me looking forward to each day with equal excitement and positivity!
I believe that each of us on this earth has a sacred purpose, and with experience, I realized that being a professional actor and working hard each day to create a more peaceful and multicultural ‘One World’, is my purpose in life, it gives me so much peace, happiness and fulfillment, it makes me feel complete!
What are the things in your life that you are most grateful for? I’m a cancer survivor, and have had a complex health history. So yes I’m grateful for my second life, a healthy mind, the opportunities and the wonderful memories and lessons I’ve learnt from good and bad experiences, the fact that I had a great education, had my parents and family around to guide me when I was growing up. But most importantly I’m grateful for my titanium-strength courage and determination. It’s the only thing which got me going through tough times, and helped me overcome each hurdle that life threw at me and become victorious against all odds!
Who is someone you feel has really influenced you in your life? A world renowned personality that really influenced me is model & actor Priyanka Chopra. From the time she won the Miss World crown to playing the lead in Quantico to starring in Hollywood films, to being listed in the 100 most influential people list by Time Magazine‼ A woman of colour who’s breaking all myths and conventions, I feel she’s a star in the true sense! Her stellar journey has really influenced me and the fact that she was born in the same hometown as me, Jamshedpur (India), I remember saying to myself, I want be like her! If she can do it, so can I‼ I want to work very hard each day and make the countries that have made me who I am, very proud of me!
Give us some detail on how did you start writing and what are you writing about please. My first article about students in Jamshedpur, my home town, was published in a national daily, when I was in high school. Since then I have written and edited several magazines and publications in the beauty, fashion, success & lifestyle domain. Having interviewed the likes of Jason Sangha, Shahrukh Khan, M. Night Shyamalan, Paul Theroux, Tim Supple, Pablo Bartholomew, I realized my forte is my interviewing technique, focusing on the craft and the unique success stories of eminent personalities and the dynamically aspirational young and the restless. Apart from covering and reporting about Fashion Weeks and conducting editorial shoots, I’ve written extensively about social and environmental issues and projects in Australian publications like Indian Link and Open Ended Magazine. Some issues I’ve written about to create more awareness are, organ donation in Australia, eco-conscious-United Nations-awarded dinnerware project started by two small-town boys from India, old-age home care facilities in Australia, God-conscious environment by ISCKON in Sydney, among several others. I believe that as a journalist and writer I have the power to create more awareness about pressing issues the world is faced with and can be a change maker, and make others’ voices heard too.
How has your life changed after becoming the India Australia Goodwill Ambassador 2018? Do people treat you any differently because of what you do? I don’t think personally my life has changed much as the campaigns I worked for in the past, I hadn’t even registered for this pageant then, so I anyway worked hard to achieve my career goals as an actor and also contribute towards social causes in my own small way. Yes winning this title has for sure acted as a massive support and encouragement in my journey to achieve greater heights. The only thing that may have changed after winning this title would be that people now see more than just a beautiful woman or an actor & model. Because this title does not have a male or female differentiator to it, neither does it have anything to do with one’s physical beauty. They now recognize me as a stronger voice through which they can reach out to more people worldwide and be heard.
In your opinion, how important is social media in changing and developing concepts of woman and her beauty? I think social media does play an integral role in shaping the concept of a woman’s beauty. On one hand it does make each of us extremely body conscious as we’re constantly exposed to perfect looking women. But on the other hand we also see influencers and inspirational women icons like Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, Caitlyn Jenner, who have changed and shaped the concept of beauty beyond just their age, sex, size, colour or number of scars and stretch marks. They’ve constantly proved to us that they are strong-willed, gorgeous women who are not scared to speak their mind and have indomitably pursued their passion and dreams!
What advice would be your advice to a girl who is body conscious? As a person who has been a victim of body shaming and who has been through a lot of changes in my body, metabolism, energy levels due to health issues and illnesses like cancer and radiation therapy, my message to anyone who is body conscious would be to not be affected by the people who discriminate them on the basis of their appearance. Instead they should prove to all of them that in today’s age, having perfect looks is no longer important. At this time right now, we can say that we already have equal opportunity in the world, and we can freely voice our opinions. I truly believe that, a real woman is whatever she wants to be! And as long as your determination and your fighting spirits are robust, you can be the person you want to be. So strive for a healthy body and mind instead of chasing a socially created notion or hype. Don’t be ashamed of your scars and curves that struggles and challenging situations may have embedded on you, wear them like a badge of bravery, do the things you’re passionate about, and the world is bound to see you as this gorgeous woman of substance.
What can you tell us more about your part in Risen and Greed (2018) please? I’m playing a US Army soldier in Risen and an Indian village girl in Greed, both tiny roles, like a drop in an ocean, but as an actor, I don’t consider any role as small or big, as I put in my 500% in anything I do. And it’s only been less than a year that I got into acting & modeling, and as a new actor, learning on the job and being able to apply what you’ve learnt in school on an actual film set, is key. Getting IMDB credits and the whole experience of working with an International and diverse cast and crew and being a part of such International projects, the confidence it imbibed in me, means massive to me!
What are your favorite things so far about being a model and actor? Some of my favourites would be meeting magnificently talented artists and performers, and creating a work of art! And the fact, that there’s never a dull moment or day. Each day brings a new experience, new challenges. It never lets you settle in your comfort zone. With every experience you’re pushing boundaries, exploring new territories, physically and intellectually. And at the same time it teaches you how to be completely aware and in control of even a blink of your eyes. It makes you such a confident person, that you’re no more ashamed of your emotions, or your physical limitations, you have to completely accept, embrace and cherish everything you are, because the camera captures everything, exactly the way you are right now!
Do you feel Photoshop has created a skewed perception of the ideal body image? I would say every editing software is used only to enhance, accentuate and highlight an artist’s work in the way he wishes to present it. So be it cinema, a magazine photo, or a painting, the point to be kept in mind is that it is only an individual’s creative expression of his perception of beauty, which may or may not be accurate to the real subject. Even in times where there were no editing software, Da Vinci created the Mona Lisa, but we don’t quite know for sure how much of it is his creative expression and freedom, vis-à-vis the real subject.
Is there anything you would like to do in the future, someone you would like to work with or something you would like to accomplish? There’s lots that I would like to accomplish in future, I don’t think I have even scratched the tip of the iceberg so far. Apart from my vision to work with industry veterans in Australia and abroad, my super ambitious dream would be to work with Leonardo Di Caprio, some day! And of course I would love to work with not-for-profit organizations worldwide for my future campaigns – “Body Positive” and “Train the Boys”.
What is your beauty regimen like? Do you have any beauty secrets or products you swear by? I have congested and dehydrated skin and have to wear makeup regularly for my profession, so my beauty regimen is all about double cleansing with warm water, exfoliate, tone and moisturize generously. The products that I swear by would be the Biologique Recherche Lotion P50V, StriVectin AR eye cream, the Sisley Black Rose Precious Oil and the Skin Infusion Cream. And after a long, tiring day, I always soothe my skin with the Innisfree, My real squeeze mask, which I store in the fridge and use it chilled.
What are your thoughts about organic/natural beauty products? Have you ever tried any? I think there’s a wide range of organic/natural beauty products available to us, though I’m not too hung up about any specific one. But I would always choose the ones that suit my skin type, conditions, sensitivities or allergies. All concoctions and ingredients might not be the right ones for you. It’s a myth that since it’s natural/organic it wouldn’t have any reactions or side effects. So I would always recommend a patch test before using any product.
What health and wellness tips do you have for young women? Get as much sleep and rest as possible to let your body repair, recover and heal. Don’t starve, eat healthy in moderate portions. Focus on strengthening your core muscles. And always do the things you love, so that your mind body and soul are in sync, in a state of peace.
What traits do you think helped you make it to where you are now? My courage to start over, anywhere, anytime. I don’t like staying in my comfort zone. To never be complacent about anything I accomplish. My incessant aspiration to learn more and surround myself with the best in the world. And I always prioritize and value, emotions, feelings, relationships and matters of the heart more than anything in the world.
What are your favorite things to do when you are not modeling/acting? Netflix, chatting with my mom, writing, watch an Opera, visit an art exhibition, cooking, explore new restaurants & bars, hang with friends.
What is something you have always wanted to try? Capoeira.
If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you want to go and why? Chefchaouen, it’s just sooo gorgeous, so vivid‼
If you could have one superpower what would it be? Why? I’d love to fly! I can just be anywhere, anytime! Wouldn’t need much time, money or planning to travel.
What is something you want less of in your life? What about more of…? I think I definitely need less sugar in my life, and more of people who encourage me to give up sugar and desserts.
What is one thing that you are obsessed with that people might be surprised to learn? Mashed potato & bitter gourd with a drizzle of mustard oil and salt.