By Muhammad Hanif Fazal
PTV has given Pakistan some amazing artists and memorable drama serials in its classic era the list of which is very long, but one such serial back in old days was Chhaon; this drama serial by Quetta center not only gave Ayub Khoso and Laila Zuberi a new recognition and renown but also introduced to us to a new face which became familiar and famous soon: Annie Zaidi. The versatile actress was an instant hit and from there on, her journey towards stardom never stopped. She was and still a wonderful performer and an asset for our media industry. Since then till today, people have seen her in different roles and she is loved in each character. Women’s Own had the honor of meeting Annie Zaidi and asking her about her incredible and long journey and how it had all started.
Q) Tell us something about yourself?
A: I live in California where I work as a substitute teacher at a vocational college. I used to teach regularly, but became a substitute teacher to avail long leaves for my work here in Pakistan. I studied dental front office and back office duties. I have got 3 kids MashaAllah, all grown up and they all are in computers. I come to Pakistan annually to do my projects.
Q) How do you balance your work between your personal life and professional life?
A: Both lives are mine! I keep a balance; it’s pretty simple since my all kids are grown up and they’re working and independent. I don’t have any responsibilities. I have grandkids, who are a joy so I just go there and spend like 4 months and then I come back to Pakistan to do my projects. It’s pretty simple to manage both the things. I enjoy both the worlds, so it’s like 8 months here 4 months there: a perfect combination.
Q) What inspired you to become an actress?
A: That’s very interesting because not even in my wildest dreams I’d wanted to become one. It’s just that one day a friend came and she offered me a role; she said why don’t you try? And I said YES! I just went with it and then that serial became a big hit. It was from Quetta. After that I was a known artist, but unfortunately I had to leave and go to America and settle down there. Now I come here every year. I love acting; it has become my passion now. I love to try different roles. It’s my profession as well as my hobby.
Q) What’s your take on healthy life style and how do you maintain a balance with a busy life?
A: I try a lot to be on the healthier side and maintain a good routine. I try to avoid fatty food and I walk a lot, go to gym sometimes and when I can’t do that I try to eat small portions and have been successful in maintaining good health so far. I eat everything, but control portions. My best habit is that I think positively about every single problem and try to find the solution. I stay away from negative people. Mental health is very important and it reflects your physical health too, so if you’re mentally positive, mentally happy then your health will be good and your face will show it. So it all depends on your mental health.
Q) How has the journey been so far?
A: My journey so far has been blessed, no complains. Whatever I wanted to do I have achieved that. I try to focus on my work and on social work as well; I try to do something for people who are underprivileged. How successful I am, my God knows and I think earning money is one thing and then spending on the right cause is also important and if everybody who’s earning well think the same, I am sure lot of our problems will be eliminated.
Q) When did you decide to make it to this career and what were the push factors for you?
A: What pushed me in this career, well I think it was not a push. I was not expecting it. It just happened one day when I decided and asked my husband about it and he said, ‘Why don’t you go and try?!’ and it was my first serial: Chhaon, written by Shahid Kazmi and directed by Kazim Pasha from Quetta. My friend Laila Zuberi was in the main cast, she brought me in and it happened. I had thought I could never be an artist and that I would do my part and come back, nobody would notice and I’d have fun, but Chhaon turned out to be a hit and I was in.
Q) What does life mean to you?
A: Life to me is a continuous journey of experiences, circumstances and problems. I have to solve them. Do your best, honestly, that the life.
Q) Tell us something about your upcoming projects?
A: I’ve recently come back from California and am still looking for some good roles. I am getting offers but let’s see. I have already done one. It was like 2, 3 episodes, which was good.
Q) How do you react to the criticism?
A: Ahhh criticism! Well criticism must be there. If there’s no criticism, I don’t think a person can improve. So healthy criticism is taken very well by me and whatever my shortcomings and weaknesses are, my friends, directors and colleagues tell me how to go about it. On the other hand, crude criticism well if you’re in the showbiz you have to be little hard skinned to tolerate all those and not to take it seriously and just move on.
Q) What’s your favorite destination?
A: My favorite destination is of course first my own country. I love the places here, northern areas like Chitral, Hunza, Gilgit and Sawat; they’re beautiful places. I’ve seen whole of Europe by road and the best place I liked was Italy and Switzerland. Turkey is also my favorite. I’m still exploring. I love to see the world.
- Q) What was the turning point in your life?
A: First turning point was to migrate to U.S.A and that was the biggest turning point in my life: to settle there and start a new life. Second turning point was when I lost my husband 15 years back. That was a big shock and a blow in my life and to overcome that shock, it took a lot of time. I haven’t forgotten, but that also keeps me going, because my husband was a big motivator. He was a leader and whenever I feel down, I remember his words, “keep going, life is too short; you have to keep going and strike for the best”.
Q) According to you what needs to be changed in mainstream media industry?
A: First, the content has to be little different; it needs improvement. I am okay with the fact that channels need ratings and that’s how they earn money, but entertainment should be wholesome. Everybody wants to have a break when they come back from hectic routine and they want to sit in front of T.V and watch something worthwhile. Comedy should not be cheap; we have to work on comedy shows and serials. New content should be introduced. It’s too much of drama, too much of bashing, too much of a woman getting beaten up, love triangles, and romance soaps. This change is important; otherwise we will have a depressed society which loves watching negative serials.
Q) What do you have to say about women empowerment?
A: A lot has been said about it, a lot of work is going on and I can see the difference after so many years. They need to know the rights first of all. They are intelligent, enriched and they can make a difference if they are guided in the right direction. Education is the first thing and every girl’s right. To practice these rights, this is empowerment. She is empowered when she is allowed to use this knowledge independently for the betterment of the society.
Q) Any Message you would like to give to the readers?
Think positive, work hard with dedication and focus and success will come your way. Stay away from negative people. You don’t have to be running around in all four corners doing different things. Pick up one small thing and work hard on that. That’s the key to success. Once you’re done with that then pick up another thing.