In conversation with Syra Yousuf

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WO :Who is Syra Yousuf?
SY: Everything in life is a state of flux, if there was no movement there would be no expansion. And to be honest, I’m looking forward to finding out who that is. So I guess it is to be decided

WO:When did you start working? Was it natural, were people around you at that age working in media as well?

SY: I started very young so yes for an 18 year old to be sitting in the car and watching her face be plastered all over the city on some of the biggest billboards is not natural at all! Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for all I’ve achieved in life but I’m just pointing out for all our young readers.

WO: Did the fact that your sibling was already an actress help? Or didn’t help?

SY: Yes in a way it does, because having someone else in the a similar field as you can provide useful in a multitude of ways, particularly the comfort factor and the mentorship and the fact that they can give you advice too.


WO:How was working as a VJ 10 years ago?

SY: It was a great learning experience. One of the first things I learnt very early on in the game is how to maintain professionalism in the work place; such as punctuality, which is a very important skill that one must learn in order to be successful.

WO:Your shows Bheja Fry and Most Wanted were very popular, why did you leave VJing ?

SY: I’m the sort of person who gets attached to her comfort zone and MTV was like home for me. So when it shut down it just didn’t seem feasible or feel right for me to move onto another TV channel.

WO:All three of you sisters have accomplished careers and are celebrities in your own right? Is there any sibling rivalry?

SY: Not at all, infact we’ve got all the support we would ever need within the four walls of our own home because of it.

WO:How was working in Mera Naseeb in 2011? That was your first Tv serial gig right? How did you get it?

SY: I was approached by HUM TV on more than one occasion and when this opportunity came around I felt that there was no harm in seeing what I was potentially capable of. It was another beautiful learning experience as acting was still very new to me and I was extremely lucky to work with industry legends at the onset of my career, I consider myself extremely priviliged.

WO:Why don’t we see you in dramas enough? Is it because you don’t want to them or you are looking for particular kinds of roles/characters to play?

SY: It would be the later as I am very particular about the roles I choose to play and mainly the fact that scripts are very important for me.

WO:You choose to do a lot of multi star cast projects and work under famous banners? Don’t you ever feel you will be overshadowed or not given enough limelight?

SY: I love the work that I do and I’m proud of each of my projects. I’m not insecure that way and I believe that everyone I’ve worked with has worked hard to be where they are and achieve their successes in life and as a costar the least I can do is offer respect.

WO: Your last movie Chaley They Saath was fresh and perhaps ahead of its time, how do you think it did ?

SY: I feel I had a great team I was working with and in fact that’s what made the film a success in my mind because of its team effort.

WO:What do you feel as a young actress that needs to change in Pakistan media industry in terms of content ?

SY: As someone who now has a following and a platform in a way we’re educators too. As happy as I am with the taboo subjects being touched on now more than ever, I feel like we could still do a better more responsible job at curating educated, truthful and balanced content.

WO:Are there any roles or issues which are a no go zone for you, no matter how lucrative the offer?

SY: A role is a role and actors shouldn’t ever take that personally. I’m happy to sign into any role as a character that’s strong powerful positive or negative as long as it’s executed with the right message in a way that people watching can understand.

WO:You have also endorsed or appeared in beauty cream ads, now looking back do you feel they were right steps given the implications of colorism in society etc?

SY: To be honest if I knew 10 years ago that it would mean what it does today to represent such campaigns perhaps I would’ve thought twice about taking on such projects.

WO::You have been featured on many fashion and clothing brand advertisements, what made you stick to Zara Shahajhan and Alkaram? Whats your criterion on basis of which you choose who you associate with?

SY: The work needs to resonate with me to some degree, I also personally admire Zara’s aesthetic.

They respect me as a professional too so that makes the entire experience more memorable.

WO:Social media now is a big part of being an actress and a celebrity, how do you navigate it? What do you feel is the right way to approach it?

SY: As an entity on its own I believe social media is an incredible tool for many outlets such as job opportunities, raising awareness, reach far beyond cast, country or creed boarders- it really has given everyone a voice. However, what has become of social media as of today is something that I find myself keeping a distance from. I rarely divulge any personal information and I have increasingly started to use it as a purely “for work” medium.

WO:How do you deal with moral policing, trolls and rumor mills on Social media?

SY: I don’t. Ignorance is bliss.

WO: You married pretty young and had a child early, do you feel being a young mother is more challenging or is it a blessing?

SY: I think it’s both. It’s far more challenging than one may believe, trying to maneuvor the waters between personal ambition and motherhood. I find myself constantly having to balance two worlds which can at times prove difficult.

WO:What do you know now as young woman in 2020 that you would tell other women too?

SY: You know I always tell myself that kindness goes a long way, and so I think that’s an important thing to mention here. I would also say that chasing one’s dreams and striving for personal improvement in all aspects is crucial in today’s world.  Making informed decisions for us as women is really important because we live in a world where we have all the information available to us at our fingertips and so we need to understand that our lives are a result of our choices and the work we put into it.

WO: Is there a misconception about Syra Yousuf that you would like to dispel?

SY: I think a general misconception is that when thought of as a celebrity one somehow forgets that I’m a person too, a person who by many means lives a relatively normal life and also enjoys doing the same simple things that the average layman does too.

Syra Yousuf
Answers the ‘Proust’ questionnaire

1- What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Family, friends, faith in God and honesty.

2-What is your greatest fear?

Unmet potential and losing a loved one.

3-What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Deplore is too strong a word to use here but I feel my giving nature sometimes doesn’t work in my favour.

4-What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Any form of dishonesty.

5-Which living person do you most admire?

My daughter. She’s an inspiration to me everyday.

6-What is your greatest extravagance?

Good food.

7-What is your current state of mind?

Be true to yourself, be good to yourself. One step at a time.

8-What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Silence.

9-On what occasion do you lie?

I prefer not to lie.

10-What do you most dislike about your appearance?

Nothing.

11-Which living person do you most despise?

I don’t like to carry such negative energy within me

12-What is the quality you most like in a man?

I find courage to be a really admirable quality

13-What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Self respect and a deep capacity to give of themselves

14-Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Honestly…”

15-What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Nooreh

 

Star: Syra Yousuf
Designer: Farah Talib Aziz
Concept: Women’s Own Magazine
Photographer: Jaffer Hasan
Stylist: Amal Qadri
Makeup: Nabilas
Jewellery: Allure by MHT
Coordination: Thomas Fernandes