“It is important to have a clear understanding of right and wrong, and set standards from the beginning as it shapes the person you’re going to become.
Women, I believe are born with enormous physical and mental super powers. They not only have a high threshold to endure pain but are also strong enough to deal with emotional upheaval with resilience. One such famous woman is the glamorous, gorgeous and exceptionally talented, Syra Shahroz.
Syra embarked on her journey as a Video Jockey (VJ) and later pursued acting in Pakistani dramas and films. The multitalented Syra is not only known for her remarkable acting but is also famous for hosting multiple award shows and representing Pakistan on international forums.
I had a chance to have an in depth heart to heart conversation with Syra and talking to her made me realize how imperative it is to establish a work-life balance.
The most important lesson I have learnt is that you must stay true to your work, give it your best at all times, even if it does not turn out the way you expect it to. Trust me, when I say hard work pays off at the end. Furthermore, patience is essential and in a strange way keeps you grounded.
Q. You’re an inspiration for many women in Pakistan’s film industry; who inspired you to be who you are today?
My parents! I draw my inspiration from them. They have been constantly reminding me about the importance of being ‘yourself’ and always carrying oneself with pride and confidence. It is important to have a clear understanding of right and wrong, and set standards from the beginning as it shapes the person you’re going to become. Thus, everything that I have achieved today is because of my parents.
Q. From a VJ to pursuing acting, how was your journey and what are the important lessons you have learnt?
My journey has been very enlightening indeed. I have been extremely lucky to have worked with Pakistani legends like, Bushra Ansari, Samina Peerzada, Sakina Sammo, Rubina Ashraf, Behroz Sabzwari, Jawed Sheikh, Talat Hussain, etc. I have profound respect for all who have been kind enough to guide me through this journey and allowed me to grow as an individual — even if it was just a conversation to broaden the horizon. The most important lesson I have learnt is that you must stay true to your work, give it your best at all times, even if it does not turn out the way you expect it to. Trust me, when I say hard work pays off in the end. Furthermore, patience is essential and in a strange way keeps you grounded.
Q. Do you agree that education plays a vital role to grow in any profession?
Of course, education does play an essential role but so does field work and first-hand experience. I believe we need to keep educating ourselves in order to grow on regular basis, be it literature or current affairs. Education is a part of life and of great significance for personal, social and economic growth because life will hit you with challenges every now and then — education will empower the mind and will enable you to make better decisions.
Q. Three things which are most important in your life?
For me, there are 4!
Family, Love, Passion and Honesty.
You always need the support of your family and I am blessed with a family who has always been there for me. Acting became my profession by chance. Not even in my wildest dreams did I think that I would or could be an actor. I am, and have always been, quite shy. My family has always been my backbone and my strength, be it my parents or my husband, and I am a strong believer of the fact that parents’ support and trust can make you conquer the world.
I put myself out there to show women that you are perfectly capable of leading an empowered family life and a very successful career, hand in hand. I believe education is very important because an educated woman is the most empowered woman. So, let’s educate our girls!
Love keeps you soft at heart and as Jane Austen says, “There is no charm equal to the tenderness of heart.” They say, follow your passion. Whatever you do in life, do it passionately and you will see it grow, whether it is family or work. I would also like to add what Vernon Howard said: “Just be honest with yourself. That opens the door.”
Q. What is your favorite character that you have played and why?
I enjoyed Soha from Bilquees Kaur because she was a strong, independent girl but had this sweet innocence to her which was relatable.
Q. You got married at an early stage of your career, how did that go for you?
Clearly, very well! I never made decisions about life based on my career. I believe if your priorities are straight, everything eventually falls into place. Thus, getting married or being married was not a deterrent to my career.
My in-laws and my family are closely knit. I am very grateful to Allah for blessing me with such wonderful people who have always supported my profession.
Q. What do you enjoy most about being a mother and how do you balance family and work with your busy schedule?
Motherhood is a beautiful journey. As demanding, draining and exhausting it might be, it is also the most rewarding. From your child’s first word to their first step, nothing in the world can give you the same kind of joy.
I have always been selective with the kind of work that I do and that has unconsciously helped me in balancing work and family but I give credit to my loving husband, Shahroz Sabzwari, who has been my rock. Without him finding this balance would not have been this easy.
Q. You have bagged a couple of awards, including the Best Debut Actress for Chalay Thay Saath. Is this just the beginning? How does this film encourage tourism in Pakistan?
Definitely, it is! You never really reach your full potential. There will always be room for improvement, room for experimenting and exploring and I am always open for growth in my profession.
I do not think I have seen enough of Pakistan and the beauty that it holds. I was in Hunza for fifty days, filming for Chalay Thay Saath and it was breathtaking! The film itself encourages a lot of tourism. Everyone, either wanted to go up north or the curiosity pushed them into reading about it. I myself grew more inquisitive about Pakistan. The film has successfully captured the real essence of Pakistan and the cultural traditions of Hunza valley.
Q. You have represented Pakistan on various international forums, what is that one special thing about our culture you want to project?
Whenever I have represented Pakistan, I have tried my best to portray the best picture of my country and its culture, which is full of love and kindness and that we value integrity and modesty.
Q. You have been contributing towards empowering women on different levels, please share with us about your social work?
My work on empowering women on different levels starts from my home, where I am an individual, a daughter-in-law, a reasonably doting wife and a mother, and I do all of this while projecting myself as an empowered Pakistani woman. Hence, I put myself out there to show women that you are perfectly capable of leading an empowered family life and a very successful career, hand in hand. I believe education is very important because an educated woman is the most empowered woman. So, let’s educate our girls!
Q. What are your dreams and message for the youth of Pakistan?
I dream that each and every one of them receives the education they deserve, for free. Know who you are, your strengths, your weaknesses, your scars and your perfection — it is real, you are real. Embrace them. And never let anyone tell you about your worth. Such is the strength of women.
As youth you will need to take an active part in the decision-making process, you are the future and you will need to work for it. You will always find support as long as you keep true to yourself. HH
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