An the ever-changing landscape of social media, authenticity often takes a back seat. But amidst the noise emerges Harija, a genuine influencer and dedicated mom, whose journey from a passionate YouTuber to a revered social media icon stands as a testament to sincerity in the digital realm. Beyond the filters and curated content, Harija’s story is one of embracing imperfections and turning challenges into triumphs. Here’s Harija, a woman whose authenticity illuminates the often murky waters of social media, inspiring countless others along the way.

Journey from being a YouTuber to being a sensational social media influencer:
When I was on YouTube, my intention was to entertain people and also offer something informative. The response and the support I received on YouTube is what led me to become a social media influencer as well. As a social media creator, I understand that I have a huge responsibility and should be careful about the things I promote. My natural inclination is toward organic and sustainable products.

Inspiration to pursue a career in multiple creative fields like acting, modelling, etc:
My inclination towards the arts started early, and each art complemented the other. For instance, acting helped my writing game, and both together helped with direction. Modeling, I feel has always been a part of my DNA. Showcasing a dress is something that I get excited about and that naturally paved the way to modeling.

Juggling a demanding career can be challenging. Tips on managing work-life balance effectively:
Being a mother and having a career are both choices I made. I believe in being accountable for my own choices. I try to schedule my work effectively, but always prioritize my son over it. This is because I am of the notion that I can get back to and build my career at any given point in time. Spending time with my little one during his formative years is crucial for me. Honestly, I tend to go with the flow and work with my instincts. Discipline and consistency are also key in this mix. I try to wrap up my work by 7 p.m. and then spend time with my family. This is of course true except for shoot days when we won’t have control over the timings.

Preparation process for the award-winning short film Tara:
We are putting together an anthology of six short films, of which Tara is one of them. Lokesh is a talented director and writer whom we have always wanted to work with. There were multiple occasions when our plans did not align, but in TARA’s case, things worked out. He had the perfect script ready at the right time. He also a person who can spot potential. Many directors tend to view me based on my previous work or at least whatever they have watched. Whereas Lokesh saw something more, which I feel is the sign of a true artist/director. I am always looking to do new things and I am grateful for the faith he had in me. We had rehearsals which started about two weeks before production. This and his solid description of the character helped me get into the skin of the character. The after effects also lasted for about a fortnight which i had to handle.

Your favorite projects or roles you’ve undertaken in your career:
I learn something or another in all my projects. There are several favourites. “Eruma Saani” is definitely a boon. The top favourites so far would be Kathiruppu, Option, Hot and Spicy, and Tara.

How to stay authentic and engage with your audience effectively in the world of social media:
One of the main reasons I’m here is because of the support of the audience. I try to be myself and do the things that I truly enjoy. There is no image or projection of myself that I am trying to build or maintain.

Handling criticism or negative feedback on social media, and what advice would you give to others facing similar challenges:
Earlier when I started out, the competition was slim. This helped me build my presence rather quickly. Nowadays a lot of people are on social media, showcasing their talents really well. I am actually happy about that. Body shaming was initially more overwhelming than actual criticism about my work. But the thing that helped me overcome all this was my interest in human psychology which started out at a young age. This helped me understand how people and their mindsets operate. This was infact what helped me understand the roots of their behaviour which in turn helped in my own self-awareness and growth. Also, The support from my husband gave me a lot of strength.

Future career aspirations and exciting new projects:
I have a few projects that I’m working on which i would like to announce when they are ready. I also have started an online store for fashion accessories called Zuzu’s Trove.

Best piece of advice ever received:
Idhum kadandhu pogum, which my dad always says. This means, ‘This too shall pass’. Next is something that my husband says which is, ‘ Our intention matters whenever we do something’.

Message or advice for fans:
I am deeply grateful to everyone who stood beside me includes my followers as well. Things wouldn’t have been possible without them. I would advise people who wish to be influencers not to do things purely for the fame or money. That should not be the driving force because the so called happiness from that is temporary. We should be doing what we love and that in turn will give us everything automatically. It is important to have a great time with what we do.

Rapid fire

Favourite comfort food?
Curd rice, potato poriyal and Rasam rice.

Dream travel destination?
Chaar Dhaams. Badrinath, Dwaraka, Jaganath and Rameshwaram.

Most-played song on your playlist?
AR Rahman’s ‘Naan Varuven ‘ from the movie Raavan.

Favourite movie of all time?
Alai Paayuthey, Seven pounds.

Favourite hobby outside of work?
Researching about our culture and history, temple exploration, dancing, watching movies, cooking, reading books, etc

Most-used app on your phone?
Instagram and WhatsApp.

What’s on your bucket list that you haven’t done yet?
Direct a feature film.