1. What has been your biggest challenge in pursuing multiple creative endeavors, and how have you overcome it?
My biggest challenge is myself. It’s very easy to get demotivated in creative pursuits, especially when you keep doing it for yourself but eventually need people to see and recognise your work. You have to keep picking yourself up. I’ve been struggling to get my poetry published and so far only one has got selected somewhere. Initially I was demotivated, but I had a good support system in my family, career, and a few friends who were pushing me forward and that kept me going.
2. Can you share a specific moment or project that you are particularly proud of in your career so far?
For both acting and poetry, there’s a project called “Home” that I worked on. It’s a poetry short film where I had several people participate pro bono or out of their own interest. The film was directed by KK, my director/mentor from a little theater who is now an actor. He visualized the concept and directed it. We had a talented music director, Jerry, who also composed music for the Tamil film “The Great Indian Kitchen”, and an excellent editor, Aravind. I remember all of these people who believed in the project and just did it. The concept was based on a poem that I wrote, and I also acted in the film. It won a few awards in film festivals both domestically and internationally, which was really cool.
3. How do you approach balancing the demands of different aspects of your career, such as rehearsing for a performance, writing a new poem, and attending castings or photoshoots?
I would be lying if I said that I have found balance. I don’t have a set schedule of when to give time to what. I sort of like to wing it right now. A lot of my friends, for instance, also do that because it’s so hard to find the exact balance, especially in the industry we’re in, particularly acting. If you’re not an established actor, you’re at the mercy of other people. You can’t just make up your mind and say, “I’ll do this tomorrow,” because you might get a call for an audition tomorrow. It’s unpredictable, so I just wing it, honestly.
4. How has your background in dance and movement influenced your work as an actor and model?
Dance and movement have influenced me more than I had realised. Sometimes I notice it; most times, I don’t even notice it. But dance has always been my first love, and it will remain that way. For instance, as an actor, especially on screen, we have to figure out what to do with our bodies, hands, and everything. You know what your face is going to do, and sometimes it’s natural what your body will do, but sometimes your hands are just there. Even in modeling, I’ll be like “What do I do with my hands?”. It’s the dance that has made me comfortable enough with my body to be okay with moving it. This will look nice; this won’t look nice and keeps emotions in the body.
5. How do you see your various creative pursuits intersecting with and influencing one another?
I think they all feed into each other as expected; it’s either one way or the other. Like poetry and acting, there’s a way to bring them together. Poetry essentially involves being a storyteller, which is also the essence of acting and dancing. At their base, they are all related, as everything is about storytelling. I believe they constantly feed each other because it’s all connected. I remember having a friend who, when she gets a character, writes personal diary entries or journal entries as the character. I also do something similar. However, it’s not like method acting, but more like keeping it constantly going even when the book is closed. This technique helps me, and my writing helps me in situations like this.
6. What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue multiple creative passions, but is unsure how to get started or how to prioritise their time and energy?
You might say this is corny, but everybody says ‘Do what your heart says.’ And we’ll be like ‘What?’ But it’s true. You’ll know when your heart is telling you not to do something, and your gut instinct tells you what is exciting you the most. Sometimes, you may do what your gut tells you not to. I can be stubborn and think, ‘Don’t do it,’ but it usually doesn’t end well. So, sometimes not listening to your gut is not a good thing. Ideally, we should be listening to it, but sometimes it’s different when we cannot listen to our gut. You’ll know when you’re leaning towards something more. For instance, after 12th grade, I wanted to continue dancing, but unfortunately, I had a really bad injury and had to get surgery for that. I did it so I could continue dancing, but my heart wasn’t in it. So, I had to lean towards something else. Then I took up acting, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is what I wanted.’ So, I think you’ll realise it as you’re doing it. And I have this one piece of advice: you can do it all. People will tell you to choose one thing and focus on it, but you can do everything. You just have to give priority to one thing, but you can do everything.