Many a times, we look at celebrities in the light of the way they appear on television and social media — glamorous, decked out and living life a lot of us desire. However, each individual has a story to share and I feel very fortunate of having a chance to interview a woman who has, survived through extremely difficult times, supported her family after graduating from university and has reached a top place in the Pakistani media industry. She is confident, passionate, extremely talented and someone who just does not believe in taking any breaks, working towards excellence and striving to bring a positive change in society.
For me, success lies more in being the way I am — keeping it real, not taking any shortcuts or indulging in anything which is principally or ethically wrong.
Born in Karachi, Ayesha Omar lost her father at the age of 2. Soon after, her family had to resettle in Lahore. She was raised by her mother, solely, who worked exceptionally hard as a teacher and gave home tuitions just to support herself and her two children. Going down memory lane, Ayesha mentioned that her mother focused a lot on providing her with quality education to equip her with the tools to be able to face the tough world out there. Ayesha studied in a prestigious school and completed her A-level with flying colors, getting a distinction in Arts. Ayesha recalled that her mother didn’t give her the leverage to be in a comfort zone in any given situation, and instead instilled in her values which made Ayesha strong, ambitious and motivated. “My mother taught me to be independent. She inculcated values which made me understand that I cannot let my circumstances define me but also not to have unrealistic hopes. She taught me to stay within my means but work hard to achieve any goals that I set for myself,” she said. According to her, “Time spent with children by parents plays a vital role in the personalities they develop, therefore, it is better to replace presents with your presence.”
Talking about fears, she said, “One of my biggest fears was having an accident, and when it did happen to me, it left me with a broken collar bone — a constant reminder of the incident. However, this made me stronger than ever. It helped me become resilient from within as I had fought with something I could not have ever imagined. The accident itself was very traumatic but there is a reason they say, What does not kill you makes you stronger.” One thing she regretted though was not dealing with her broken collar bone at that time and delaying it, she added, “There are things in life which need to be dealt with there and then. Not giving myself enough time to heal led to a lot of issues.”
Ayesha explained how she has forever had a very keen interest in art, be it any form — fine arts to theatre; poetry to singing. She has attended art exhibitions, musical evenings and theatre plays throughout her childhood which made her enthusiastic to pursue her dreams. As we indulged deeper into this discussion and I wanted to find out about her inspiration in life, she said, “I get inspired by attributes and characteristics certain people have. It could be their strength, perseverance, self-confidence or self-esteem which really influences me.” Mentioning a few, she quoted, Vaneeza Ahmed’s professionalism, Hina Dilpazeer’s peace of mind as inspiring, Meesha Shafi’s firmness. Moreover, she said that Hina Dilpazeer has been a mentor and a confidant whose spiritual self has made Ayesha to become more grounded. Ayesha added that her mother and her best friends also have a major role in making her stay genuine, harmonized with herself and be at the place where she is today.
We also got a chance to discuss another talent and interest of Ayesha: Music. Ayesha has not only sung songs but has also written lyrics. She has received the award for Best Music Album of the Year in 2013. She says that she loves to express herself through singing and draws inspiration from some of her favorite poets and singers. She said, “Well, I have grown up singing ‘Bol ke lab azaad hain tere’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz in my school choir. At that time, I did not understand what it meant. However, this beautiful piece of poetry became an integral part of me and my entire outlook on life is based on that. We should not be scared of being who we are. Women can only be empowered if they understand their own value and speak up for their rights whenever needed.” Furthermore, among vocalists, she said, “Ma’am Tina Sani and Abida Parveen and Ali Azmat amongst many others have made a remarkable contribution to the music industry of Pakistan.”
Ayesha started appearing on television at a very young age in the show, Mere Bachpun Ke Din on Pakistan Television and since then, there has been no looking back. According to Ayesha, her acting skills were polished during her time spent at National College of Arts (NCA). Although, she had acted with theatre actors of NCA from her school days but she said, “Nautanki, which is a theatre group at NCA, made me work on different kinds of scripts. This really helped take my acting abilities t0 a different level which further helped me pursue acting as a career.”
Working in the famous sitcom Bulbulay has been an interesting experience for Ayesha. According to her, timing matters a lot for a comic sitcom like Bulbulay. Her theatrical background helped her in making Bulbulay her identity. Ayesha said, “Initially, my mother had some reservations when she saw the first few episodes of Bulbulay but gradually, people used to come up to her and praise me and give a lot of prayers as they expressed it was a stress buster for them after a tiring, exhausting and stressful day.”
While discussing the education system we are a part of, Ayesha pointed out, “It is significant for me to study in a co-education system. This teaches equality at all levels. Girls and boys, both come to understand the importance of being at the same level and not treating the other gender as alien to themselves. Moreover, along with formal education, kids should also be encouraged for extracurricular activities. Learning cannot be confined to books and within walls, it involves being educated in different forms at all stages of life.”
Ayesha has also been awarded the title of the Most Stylish Host award last year. Speaking about how she feels about all the awards she has bagged, she stated, “Awards are definitely motivating for a person but for me, success lies more in being the way I am — keeping it real, not taking any shortcuts or indulging in anything which is principally or ethically wrong. I haven’t ever walked over anyone else to reach any level. I am proud of myself for not manipulating people or situations for my own benefit. Hence, I am not only proud of any material achievements in life but I am proud of being able to be me and to support my mother, our house and my brother’s education. For me, that is my biggest accomplishment.”
As we came down to her addressing the women of Pakistan and sharing a message for them, Ayesha said, “Learn to say NO when it is needed. Do not be scared of anything and have complete faith in yourself. Let your egos aside and go out there, work hard to turn your dreams into reality. Also, whatever you are attracted to will come to you so stay positive and be good to people around you. What you sow, so shall you reap.” In the end, she laid emphasis on self-love, saying, “Take special care of yourself and do not let anyone else’s opinions define you. Be confident about yourself, focus on your health, eat wisely, exercise and you will be equipped to deal with most of the troubles in life.”
Meeting Ayesha Omar completely changed my perception about her. Women like Ayesha truly prove to be an example of women empowerment and rather than just putting men down, such girls work extremely hard to become who they are. Let us look at these role models for who they really are and try to adopt habits which can help us move forward in life like they have. HH
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