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Spotlight: Ayeshah Alam

Ayeshah Alam is no stranger to TV and radio audiences in Pakistan. She is a versatile, dynamic woman with a footprint all over popular media. She’s a radio jockey with CityFM89, she’s starred in several TV sitcoms and serials, and the famous independent film “Daira” – based on Mohsin Hamid’s Moth Smoke – in which she played the female lead as Mumtaz. Ayeshah has also done numerous modeling engagements and is a very familiar face even for those who may have missed her on TV.

In an exclusive Rendezvous with, Ayeshah talks about how it all started for her, what she’s doing now, what she likes and what she doesn’t, and more...

You’ve got so many angles to your personality – modeling, acting, show hosting – when and how did it all begin?
Hmm. I think I have always been an actress…that’s what my mother used to say anyway! I always knew I wanted to act or be involved with the performing arts at some level. Modeling happened by accident as I had gone to Nabila’s for a haircut, she asked me to model in her hair show, I said yes, and the rest as they say is history. I guess as I grew up, I changed, evolved, discovered new things I enjoyed doing, and tried to bring that into my work.

Out of all the work you’ve done, which projects or shows are your personal favorites?
I loved my first show for Nabila as that was a defining moment for me as my first step into the media world. My first play on stage, my first stint in front of the camera, my first time finding my voice on the radio, have all been defining milestones!.

What part of your creative career do you enjoy the most?
I guess it’s kind of changed through the years. I do enjoy acting but only with a director who actually thinks about his/her character and is willing to work on that with the actor.

What are some of the things you are working on these days?
Radio and TV…trying to get a script written…been a challenge I’ve been trying to overcome for years now.

Things have changed a lot in the media world since you started working – how do you feel about it?
Well it hasn’t changed enough and it still needs to be treated as a serious profession. But hopefully that will come to as people see this as something serious and not as a photo op.

What are some of the things you love the most about working in Pakistan, as a woman, in the media business?
I don’t think I have ever thought of myself separately as a woman in the media. I just consider myself a media person. I love my work and pushing the boundaries and being a part of changes in attitudes..

What would you say to people who don’t know Pakistan as well, but define its society as orthodox and oppressive?
I would say they need to visit Pakistan to truly appreciate Pakistan and the rich diversity one finds here. I would tell them to listen to cityfm89 on the web to get a taste of another section of society and look through our glossies instead of only Fox news as their source.

If you were made the Minister of Culture – what are some of the things you’d do to promote Pakistan on an international level?
I would immediately ask Hameed Haroon and Hameed Akhund to please join the group and actively pursue ways and means of promoting our artisans and musicians in collaboration with modern day artists and promote them through the media. Awareness of their talent and creating a demand for their art will help feed them and encourage them to stay with the art, which in turn is a great image builder for Pakistan.

Some people who know you say that you are one of the most caring people they’ve ever met – does that help or hurt you as a media professional, especially with all the competition?
They do?? They’re lying!! Um… no idea…and to be honest, don’t care. I am who I am and how I am, and never really worried about how that would affect my career. I believe in people more than I do in a career…careers have ups and downs, it’s the people who see you through!.

If you got a chance to live the life of another person who would you choose and why?
I wouldn’t choose anyone else. Good grief…my demons are enough to deal with, why would I want to learn to deal with someone else’s!!

If you were offered a role in a Hollywood production, who would you like to be your co-star(s)?
Yummmy…Johnny Depp because he would be a phenomenal actor to bounce off and Mathew McConaughey because he is just pure delicious; his acting ain’t too bad either ;)

What about Bollywood – any particular stars you would really like to work with?
Abhishek Bachchan because of the yum factor…Saif same thing…as an actor would love to work with Amitabh or Nana Patekar.

What are three things you cannot live without?
Freedom of expression, love, spontaneity.

What is the one thing you wish would never exist?

What kind of people do you like the most?
Honest, down to earth, able to laugh at themselves.

What can you absolutely not stand in a person?
Dishonesty and pretentiousness.

What kind of movies do you like? Any recent favorites?
'Last king of Scotland' I really enjoyed. I enjoy all kinds...I’m a sap for romances, biographies, historical, political, thrillers, comedies. I guess it would be easier to ask what kind of movies I don’t like…I don’t like bloody gory movies and have outgrown horror movies.

What kind of music do you like the best? Any favorite songs?
You’re asking this of someone who has been a Radio Jockey for 3 years (laughs). Hmm…again, love all kinds of music except heavy metal. Anything that grates on the ears, I don’t like..

Who would you say is your (a) favorite model, (b) favorite TV show host, and (c) favorite actor?
Model would be Christy Turlington…very classy woman. TV show host, I would say Oprah. (Yes, yes…sappy, I know) and actor…that’s a tough one as I like many for various reasons. Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks has really evolved as an actor, Brad Pitt despite the pretty boy image is a great actor. And then of course you have your stalwarts like Anthony Hopkins..

If you were to take away one thing you’ve learned from all that you’ve done so far, how would you describe it for our readers?
At the end of it all it doesn’t really matter what you do…it really doesn’t…it is the relationships you build!

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