by ASJAD NAZIR
SMALL-SCREEN siren Nia Sharma made a lot of noise in 2017, which included a memorable turn on danger-filled reality TV show Khatron Ke Khiladi and being named the sexiest Asian TV star on the planet for the second year in a row.
This continued a remarkable rise for the talented young actress who has done things on her own terms and become a symbol of girl power in India, which has subsequently resulted in a rapidly increasing global fan base.
Nia has taken all the attention in her stride and is already looking ahead to taking on more challenges in the future.
Eastern Eye caught up with the actress to talk about her journey, future plans, fans, fashion, inspirations, being named the sexiest TV star, confidence and more.
How do you look back on your amazing journey in television?
When I look back I can see I have grown up, become groomed and a lot more confident. I have experienced highs and lows in the past seven years, but it’s these experiences that help you learn and grow as an individual. I look back to only cherish the memories that I made and have no regrets whatsoever.
Has finding good projects been the biggest challenge for you?
When you set a high bar for yourself that absolutely becomes the biggest challenge. Then it becomes way more challenging when you become choosy about the kind of roles that you want to play and about how you want to proceed with your career.
After a year, most shows lose important content or a storyline and that’s when they want you to grow old or play a mother on screen, even if you are 21 or 22 years-old. I refused. I had conditions and I’m glad I took those decisions for myself, even if it cost me losing projects. I was fine and have had faith in myself.
So has doing things on your own terms been your biggest achievement?
There couldn’t be any other way, Asjad, otherwise what is the point? I think that is the attitude one must go into with whatever career path they choose to do. I stay firm with what I choose and my decisions. I stand by them. I have been mocked for my choice of clothes, for how I dress, for my clothes being too short, too weird or a wannabe, but I did it anyway. People questioned my lipsticks and ‘hideous’ colours and said ‘what’s wrong with her’, but I experimented anyway. So somewhere all of it got noticed.
Who or what have been your biggest inspirations?
Performers and those who have confidence in themselves inspire me. It doesn’t matter if you look average, if your dress sense isn’t on par, but if you perform, have confidence and stand out, then you inspire me.
I also take a lot of inspiration from the internet sensations today. They write their own scripts, act and earn millions of views all by themselves. They have become a rage without anyone’s help and it’s amazing. (Laughs) I mean, I would starve if I had to do all of this by myself – I would be jobless.
How did you feel being voted sexiest TV star on the planet for a second year in a row, in our popular 50 Sexiest Asian Women list?
It’s so flattering and it’s like a gala time for me and my little loyal family of fans, who have stood by me all these years. I’m so indebted to each and every one of them.
Your fans voted for you in force to rank you second in the overall list behind Priyanka Chopra. How much do they mean to you?
If it weren’t for them, I would have a very boring life, man. They bring me joy and keep my social media alive. It’s so much fun to see their messages in all the different ways and their praise is always so humbling. (Laughs) They do it all the time, which means a lot to me.
How did you feel when Priyanka Chopra tweeted you about it?
I saw the notification when I was eating. The next moment I was in tears because I had so not expected it at all. I was smiling and thrilled. It meant so much to me.
According to you, what makes a person sexy?
There is no formula, man, it’s just an adjective. I just feel I’m an average-looking girl with a lot of confidence. There are so many girls who are dropdead gorgeous, prettier and beautiful. I just look at them and feel wow. I don’t stand a chance, but I still am confident about me and will always be.
Being fearless and fierce is perhaps your sexiest quality. Where does that come from?
Well, this compliment surely comes from you, Asjad. I still have a lot of fierce things to do. I’m more than my make-up and clothes. I’m more than just a vulnerable girl. I want to be there for other women. I want to be fearless, raise my voice and take a stand. I feel so agitated when a girl or woman is harassed, molested, treated badly, raped or disrespected. I want to see a society where women are treated more fairly, and if that means being fearless, then so be it.
Were you always confident growing up?
I have been a very under-confident girl since my teens. I have had my struggles to look good and look like a girl. I have had to deal with acne problems, which can totally crash your confidence and have the same struggles other girls have had. (Laughs) I guess I am good at pretending to be confident and it works.
What advice would you give girls who don’t have that confidence?
Let it go ‘in from one ear out the other’. This is one formula I have always applied in my life and I have come a long way because of it. So many will say you are worthless, you don’t look good or mock you for no reason. That is how some people will treat you. But I have been a rebel and looked past them. They don’t exist. Just ignore them.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
My mom gives me a lot of good advice and those pearls of wisdom have always worked. (Laughs) So listen to your mom.
You are one of the sexiest women around, but also fierce. Are guys intimidated by you?
(Laughs) Do they need to be? The ones who think too highly of themselves and have the attitude of ‘I can make any girl fall at my feet’ is a big turn off. I totally stay away from such so-called studs.
Are you a romantic?
Of course I am, any day. I am clingy, huggy and cuddling, but only if it’s reciprocated. It is always the vibe in the opposite sex that clicks. It may not make sense but I know what I mean.
Today, what are some of your big passions away from work?
I truly want to learn street dancing. Dance really does inspire me. I dance like crazy when I party. (Laughs) People often think I’m drunk, but I only am dancing. Dancing is so much fun.
You are known to be a fun person, but who is the most fun person you know in real life?
(Laughs) All my friends are funny. We swear a lot and laugh loads. The drama is funny.
Your fashion is eye-catching, but what are your big fashion inspirations?
(Smiles) My fashion is experimental, risky and gets me in trouble. I’m learning. I see a lot of fashion models on Instagram and their fashion game is always on point. I also watch VH1 music videos. Everything I see gets drilled in my head, so I see and browse a lot.
Which is your favourite fashion accessory?
I barely have accessories. I like a lot of neck chains. I like funk. I like the cool girl vibe more than the hot chic vibe.
What would be your dream role?
Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider or Wanted. Or even playing a Bond girl would be so awesome. (Laughs) I dream a lot.
Will you do any more reality shows?
I would like to do a dance-based reality show for sure or even the international Fear Factor, which is just so deadly, man.
If you could learn something new and master it what would it be?
Like I said, street dancing. I feel so incomplete without it. I should have taken it up while I was young. I would have been a pro by now.
Finally what inspires you professionally today?
The ‘failure stories’ of celebrities is a big motivating factor for me. It makes me realise that failure is a normal thing. It inspires me to think again, make another attempt and keep trying.