Jacqueline Fernandez enjoys stepping outside her comfort zone
Eastern Eye Staff
Some get success handed to them on a plate and then there are others, like Jacqueline Fernandez, who work hard to reach the top.
This incredible work ethnic has enabled the sexy Sri Lankan to became an in-demand actress in Bollywood and take on international film projects.
Jacqueline has also used that ability to push herself a little further to make a mark on reality TV as a judge, become a fitness icon and back various social causes, including a global drive for girl power and equality.
When Eastern Eye caught up with the beauty queen turned actress, she was not surprisingly super busy but took time out to talk about her amazing work ethic, social causes, taking risks, healthy eating, future plans and more.
You are one of the most hard-working people I have come across. How do you stay on top of your super busy schedule?
Wow, that is a huge compliment, Asjad. I think when you respect your work and are passionate about it, you just want to give it your all. It’s about that level of respect you give to your work and everyone who is connected to it.
Everything I do revolves around work, but at the same time, I try making it as enjoyable as I can. That’s the trick because otherwise it just becomes stressful, especially in an industry like ours where it is a 24/7 kind of ball game and you have to be on your toes all the time.
So it has to be something that really engages you. I have chosen this career because there are so many aspects of my work that are just so enjoyable to me. If you train in it as well, even that is enjoyable.
But where do you get your remarkable workaholic spirit from?
(Smiles) Probably my dad. I grew up in an environment where both my parents pretty much worked two jobs. I hardly saw them even sleep much. So I kind of grew up in that situation, and for me it was the most natural thing.
From a young age, I learned that your work is gonna take up three-quarters of your life, so you have to pretty much give it your all. It has to be something that really satisfies you because if it doesn’t, then three quarters of your life will be spent not being satisfied.
How are you selecting projects, because you are doing some really diverse things, from eclectic roles and being a judge on reality TV shows to promoting fitness?
Yes, it is a little bit of everything right now. I am always excited about doing new things and that kind of keeps me engaged in my work. I also hope to keep the audiences interested. So I have done the super commercial space, which I love because it has such wide reach. It is something I really enjoy doing. At the same time, venturing into TV and ‘smaller’ films, short films or mini-series might give me more depth or a deeper experience.
New projects excite me because you start from scratch. As an actor, for me it’s not about moving up or down, it’s about moving into a completely new space. That will just keep on enriching you.
But people are afraid to take that leap of faith and want to stay in their comfort zone?
It is very scary. A lot of people won’t do it, but I do believe in taking risks. They might kind of backfire, but at the same time, they might just propel you to different heights. I would rather take that risk and be positive about it than be negative.
Would you say you are fearless?
I wouldn’t say I am completely fearless. A fearless person doesn’t think, they just do. I do think, I do think a lot about what I am doing, why I am doing it. I think about my decision for the longest time. But at the end of the day, I psyche myself up and give myself motivation. Then I go for it. (Laughs) All the stress I put myself through, I just kind of give up and become fearless in that way. I have been around people who are much more fearless. I kind of try to take inspiration from them.
How have you found the experience of being a judge on TV series Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa?
It was really amazing. I can’t believe that it’s finished so quickly. At first the commitment of four months seemed daunting, but the contestants were so good. They were really great dancers and I still feel I haven’t reached where I want to as a dancer yet. I was thinking, how can I judge them? So for me it was kind of like taking on this new avatar and seeing where it took me.
What do you think was the best thing about the whole experience?
The contestants really inspired me. It was such an eye-opener. It was kind of like what hard work comes down to, how competition is and the kind of things we do for what we are passionate about. That rekindled it in me again. I think along the way, sometimes you forget and I was reminded that this is what it is all about, that competition and fighting for what you believe in, and what you are passionate about. So yes, I think that is the best thing that came out of it.
How much did you enjoy being part of girl power campaign What I Really Really Want, which is part of Project Everyone? That too was amazing. For me, taking up causes is imperative. As a celebrity, I feel the least I can do is spread awareness because we have a platform to do so. I get angry when people say, ‘all these celebrities can do is talk.’ It is such a negative way of saying things because what they don’t realise is a little bit of awareness can go a long way. It opens people’s eyes and they become a lot more educated than they were before. So if that is what I can be useful in, I would much rather do that than nothing.
How important is it to spread that message of equality between genders?
I think it’s a little too far in the day to still be talking about this message in the era and world we live in, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t realise that there isn’t equality for people in many parts of the world.
It’s about having global equality for everyone. It’s not just gender. Yes, there are still places where girls are suffering from inequality, but I think it’s about equality for everyone and anything, whoever you are and whatever you do. You have to take a stand. I personally would never want to be discriminated against for anything. It means a lot to me that this message of equality gets across.
You also got involved with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day?
First of all, I’m a huge fan of Jamie Oliver. I think he does so much in his capacity as a celebrity chef, and it is great. He involves it with his love for food. He does so much good around the world. I love it when people can use their talent and personality to do good as well. He is one of those people.
For me the Food Revolution is important because I come from a background of promoting good health, fitness and nutrition. I do know that people look to me as an example because of the brand I focus on and who I am. People follow fitness routines and stuff like that. I personally love to share advice and educate people about what they can do to make their life happier. I know how much it does for me as a person.
What was it like joining the campaign?
It was great because it had such a huge audience. It was really about getting to the adults rather than the kids, and communicating to them that if you can instill good habits from a young age about food and educate children about food from a young age, they are much like less likely to have problems as they get older. And if they learn bad food habits from a young age, it is really difficult to get out of that. And sometimes the adults just don’t know. It’s not that they do it on purpose – obviously, no parents would – but sometimes they had no idea. It was just about helping and educating people in that space.
What is the master plan going forward?
Oh my god, I can’t believe that it is the end of the year already. The year has gone so fast.
I felt like I did a lot in 2016. This year taught me so much because it was about releasing three films and was the busiest time of my career because I went into television. I also travelled and got a lot more into social causes.
My New Year’s resolution was that I wanted to do more and I was actually able to accomplish all of those things. Now it is about learning from all the experiences and maturing as an actor and person. There are so many different things I feel I need to do, and how I want to move forward.
Which films do you have on the way?
I am currently working on three films including with Sidharth Malhotra and another with Sushant Singh Rajput. Then there is Judwaa 2 with Varun Dhawan, which is gonna be a lot of fun. I am just looking for interesting scripts and think right now I am in a space where it’s about finding what is interesting.
It is going to become riskier and a lot more challenging, but it’s about how I can grow as an actor and what I need to do to get there. And not to be in my comfort zone.
So you are gonna carry on being the hardest working leading lady I know?
(Laughs) I really hope so. When someone calls me hardworking, then I am really happy because I try and devote every single second of my day to my work, my profession, producers, directors and crew.
When someone recognises it, that is really all I need. It is like the best compliment anyone can give me.