“Failure is an intrinsic part of growing up strong; it teaches you much more than success.”
Armeena Khan is a stunning woman with a lot of understanding of the evolving world. Her remarkable ability to tackle with characters and situations, as they come, is reflected in the intriguing scripts she has chosen to work on. Being amongst the most celebrated and renowned Pakistani film and television actors, she has received nominations for the Lux Style Awards, Hum Awards and a Nigar Award for her exceptional performances on screen over a very short period. Most of her television serials in which she has starred were highly successful and this helped her win hearts of millions across the globe. In 2016, she was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Pakistan Achievement Awards.
Only recently, I got the chance to get to know Armeena on a one-on-one basis and I found out that this gorgeous woman is not only beautiful but also strong from within. According to her, she has always had the support of her family in all of her pursuits. She stated, "I have been raised in a very supportive environment. My father strongly believed in educating all his daughters and he always encouraged us. As a child, I was a quiet kid in school who was studious so I performed very well throughout my school years. My teenage life was full of expedited learning and challenging experiences but fortunately, I had a reliable network of friends and family to guide me. It was an ordinary, Canadian teenage life. But looking back, there is one thing that I always envisaged — a different life, a life less ordinary.”
Speaking further about how her parents’ faith in her made her independent, Armeena said, “My parents allowed me the freedom to make my own decisions and my own mistakes. Nothing like success but failure is an intrinsic part of growing up strong; it teaches you much more than success. I also think that travel and living in different countries has shaped me into the person that I am today. Parents need to inculcate the right values and then let their daughters be strong and courageous enough to deal with troubles on their own.” Her parents and Fesl Khan (her significant other) have been her strength from day one.
Keeping Armeena’s outstanding acting skills in mind, I was intrigued to know if she had always wanted to become an actor. Upon inquiring, Armeena answered, “No, I never imagined that I would be an actress. However, I am restless, forever searching and aspiring to better things. I moved to the U.K. for university where I obtained a degree in Business Studies (Hons) from Manchester. I firmly believe that no matter which career you opt for, education is important as it will give you the required confidence. It will also allow you to make smarter choices. With education and exposure, you will be able to tell the difference between right and wrong and also stand up for what is right. Education will free you and empower you. If you are well informed and well-read, you will be in control of your destiny and that is what helped me. While studying and seeking knowledge through different mediums, I started modeling and that is how I got inclined towards the entertainment industry.”
She then went on to elaborate about her initial projects, “It was a shock as they involved long and arduous hours, dirty politics, constant traveling and the need to be in control over emotions. It was as far away from a 9 to 5 job as can be. You know they say ‘When you dream, your goals seem close but when you begin working they suddenly seem very distant’. It is very true and this is the situation in which you have to stay strong, not give up and just keep moving forward.”
Shedding light on different roles that she has performed, Armeena said, “I have played multiple characters but I am personally still waiting to do my game-changing project in Pakistan. It needs to be something groundbreaking and a character people will remember for times to come. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to take up a role of this sort as yet and it points to poverty in writing and production in our television and film industry which we should certainly address.”
In every field, a person learns multiple lessons. According to Armeena, "Being a part of the entertainment industry, I learned some essential lessons: most importantly, not to believe in your hype. This industry is like any other business — just that, business. Your relationships are very important so hold them in good stead. Your reputation is more valuable than you think, come out with that intact at the other end and it is a success in itself.”
In her point of view, the entertainment industry is thriving and can flourish even more if we clear a certain few things. She stated, “Piracy and self-esteem are two points which need to be dealt with. The former is keeping the industry from taking root and growing. It is a huge problem in this country and is simply unethical. We must clamp down on it. Appropriate measures need to be taken to bring out the creativity from within. The second issue is a little more complex. I have noticed that many people do not support or respect their talent. It depicts how the population views itself — as something less. This perception needs to be changed from the grass roots level. There’s a treasure of hidden talent amongst Pakistanis which needs to be explored!”
Being a true patriot, Armeena takes pride in the Adab and Tameez that comprises a significant part of Pakistani culture. She believes we have a unique sense of manners, propriety, and respect for each other and relationships. She added, “People, around the world, comment on this aspect of our culture and many seek to espouse it. This is something I would urge the creative industries to conserve and build upon. It is a competitive advantage, but one that can diminish over time.”
Encouraging women to work on themselves and make themselves stronger, Armeena stated, “Women empowerment is usually confused or misused. The term simply means no less and no more, but equal to men. It means being born a woman should not predispose me to disadvantages and obstacles. Women empowerment in this era is a must for every society. I am only an actress and there are far abler and accomplished women than I, working ‘for’ women in the NGO and voluntary sector. Still, as an actress, I do try to set an example for my young female fans. So for example, rather than only posting makeup selfies portraying artificial beauty, I choose to speak on political topics and take a stand on human rights, regardless of commercial consequences for my career. I do this intentionally to make my fans aware that principles matter any day over fame or money. I am the brand ambassador for Graham Leighton Trust (GLT) and promote eye care work instead of advertising my bling. This is to convey to my fans that it's what you do for others and not only what you buy for yourselves that should matter. These are the kind of steps us actors should take as we can influence the masses and so we should responsibly try to change their perception and perspectives about subjects and situations, which create trouble at home and in the outside world. We must try and break stereotypes and evolve each day with the rapidly growing world.”
Armeena sees a lot of passion, determination, and dedication in the youth of Pakistan. Concluding the conversation with high hopes from the younger generation, she said, "Youth of Pakistan is the hope of Pakistan. They need to be responsible and proactive to deal with all kinds of situations in life. I have much advice to proffer but considering the space, I will tailor it to the youth considering a career in acting. Before entering the entertainment world, pursue proper training. It is not an easy industry and is getting increasingly difficult. If you choose to enter this field, then do so using a proper agent and through trusted avenues. Do your research and get yourself an acting mentor if possible. Be sincere with your projects and your commitments. But whatever you do, in any field, do not try to find shortcuts. Don't compromise your integrity or dignity for you will regret it later and don’t hurt other people on your way up because you will meet them on your way down. Don’t believe the ones who say ‘we will make you a star overnight. The industry is full of cheap snake oil sellers. Burn midnight oil, work hard and that’s how you will climb all the way up and stay there. Be positive and you can achieve all that you desire.” HH
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