Here’s our recent interaction with Elena Fernandes about her journey in Bollywood, her animal welfare projects and a lot more.
Every Bollywood actor has a different story, a different journey and one such actor who has been carving her own path in Indian cinema is – Elena Fernandes. The half Indian and half South American actress has already made her mark in the world of modelling and has been featured in Internationally renowned magazines such as Vogue, GQ, Harpers Bazaar amongst others and has also been a part of marketing campaigns for global giants such as River Island, Adidas and FILA.
After earning due credit as a model, Elena made up her mind to venture into Bollywood and has already been a part of commercial yet content-driven movies such as Badla as well as Kapoor and Sons. But that’s not all, the actress’ academic accomplishments also include a Law degree from the Kings College, University of London. She is also determined towards changing and improving the conditions of animals through charity and dedicated efforts.
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You recently visited Dubai for work. Can you tell us something about that?
“There is such a huge Bollywood fanbase in Dubai. Right now, I was doing PR with Housefull 4. I was also invited for Kris Jenner’s event. It was kind of great, to maximise my relationship there with the Bollywood fanbase.”
And how was it interacting with your fans outside India?
“It was absolutely amazing. Fans are really supportive, a lot more people are recognising me and it’s just really great to be able to connect with them, not just in India but also in the rest of the world as well because I really think that is important, as it is the fans who make you.”
Social media has made it quite convenient for celebrities to interact with their fans. Do you also find the time to interact with your fans often?
“Yaa, I do, in fact, that is something I am known for. I always interact with the fans, I always respond to my fans on social media, I’m very interactive. Because you know I think it is great to have that relationship and a lot of them are very surprised when I respond because they don’t expect that exactly. So, I think that it is very important. You have to also be very respectful of them you know.
Can you tell us, how your journey has been so far in the glam world? From modelling to commercials to Bollywood. Has it been overwhelming, fun or exciting?
“So, I think people miss out on the fact that there is a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes. People on social media only see the glam, travelling here and there. They don’t realise it’s a full-fledged job. You have to take care of your skin, you have to take care of your body, you have to work on your Hindi you are constantly working on yourself and improving yourself. And a lot of people don’t get to see that. Also, I jumble up with my charity work because there is so much I want to do. It’s been a tough journey but it is been worthwhile. I especially want to mention and thank my casting director Priyata Dixit who cast me in Badla as well as my next big project. She has consistently believed in my acting ability as well as my ability to speak Hindi. I work really hard because it is something I want to do, something that I enjoy and it is also important that I deliver and give my best.”
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So you have studied Law and that modelling sort of happened along the way. So, what made you switch from you know the career that you were going for and then this now?
“So, to be honest, I have not really switched. My legal career has been always there. I am an academic at heart so I love reading, I love learning new things and I think in life it is important to have something to know to fall back on. Because we all know what the fashion and entertainment industry is like. It is important to have a back-up whether being an internship or a degree or some sort of skills. For me, I love learning and I want to continue learning. For example, when I am some 70-80 years old, I still want to be able to practice law. You know, I like to do a lot of things.”
What was your parents’ reaction when you told them you want to act?
“I can actually relate to that. Actually, my dad is currently in India. I believe he is very proud. My parents actually collected one of my awards for me in London and they have written a speech and it has been an exciting journey for all of us. My father is an Indian, I’m going to Goa for the IFFI film festival, so it’s great that I can make him and my mom proud you know because it is something very new for all of us. I come from an academic family, fashion and film isn’t something that was on the horizon but it happened and I am lucky that my parents especially my Indian father is very supportive.”
It’s great to have the support of your parents, isn’t it?
“I’m lucky because I was born in London and my parents have always told me to be very independent and that education was always very important. My dad always told me to be the swan, people will only see the top part of you they won’t know how far you are talented underneath.”
London’s your home, do you miss it or something back home since you are constantly travelling for work?
“I miss my pets a lot when I am away. There’s Garfield and Yumyum. I really miss them.”
Since you have many projects in India, will you be moving to Mumbai permanently anytime soon?
“To be honest, I’m always back and forth, I spent a lot of time here, I spend a lot of time in Europe, in the west. So, everyone thinks I’m here there everywhere. For me, it’s about being able to deliver my work and to connect to my fans I keep improving and working on myself really.”
Are there any Bollywood directors that you want to work with?
“I really love Bhansali, because he’s got such a huge volume of work like he has done some incredible work so I think he would be at the top of my list. I also like working with many new and upcoming directors that have got a vision and have got work ethic.”
She further adds, “I have worked with Akshay Kumar, Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh so I’d probably go with Salman Khan or Shah Ruk Khan. Shah Rukh definitely, he’s the ultimate, you know.”
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Besides modelling and acting, you also work towards animal welfare. Can you shed some light on it?
“I am very passionate about animal welfare. My parents gave me two cats when I was 8 years old. And I really thought that it gave me a sense of responsibility. You know the cats that my parents gave me stayed with me for 18 years. They have been with me pretty much my whole life. That made me very passionate about animal welfare. 70 % of whatever I earn goes towards neutering strays because if you control the stray population, you’re improving the life-quality for strays. There’s no more dead kittens or puppies and societies will not have issues. We try to teach humility and compassion which is why we do school talks, bring in a lot of locals to teach them the treatment and care. Because if you improve the relationship between man and animal then you will fundamentally improve the relationship between man and man.”
We also hear a lot about animal cruelty these days… What are your thoughts on it?
“If they’re going to be that aggressive towards animals, imagine what they are doing to the street kids. It is very important for people to recognize the link and also the mental health link. If they’re inflicting such abuse on an animal it could be an indicator of something being wrong with the individual and it should be addressed.”
You also work with a foundation that helps people regain their sight, is that correct?
“Yes, it’s a Seattle based charity called SightLife. When I was filming with Emraan Hashmi we visited one of the hospitals in Lucknow. We met this woman who had corneal blindness for thirty years and thanks to this charity she got her sight back and live her life with eyesight which I thought was amazing.”
Elena believes we can change all play an instrumental role in bringing about a change…
She says, “Everyone says you can’t change the world but you can! You can change the world of everyone you come in contact with, you just have to be a decent human being at heart. If you see a street kid give him some sweets, don’t ignore him. At least smile at him. I always carry cat food with me in case I find a stray cat. Some people have an issue with it but I ask them , “How is it affecting your life?” Especially if it’s someone who preaches religion, I think it’s our duty to take care of the defenceless and weak. Turn your words into action. It’s not hard. It’s small, little things, it’s not about big gestures. There are 1.3 Billion people in India, so, if instead of saying, “Oh, I can’t make a difference,” if 1.3 Billion people said, ”Oh, I can make a difference, imagine then”.
We also asked Elena to answer Social Ketchup’s rapid-fire questions and she graciously obliged… Here’s how it went:
What is one skincare routine you swear by?
“Exfoliation. Exfoliation is key for skincare.”
Your go-to outfit?
“Jeans and a t-shirt or my pyjamas. I wear my pyjamas constantly.”
One place you would absolutely love to visit?
“I would love to travel to Egypt. I am really fascinated by the pyramids.”
What’s your favourite midnight snack?
“Probably yumyums, Galaxy and Kinder eggs. The ones you get in London, they’re really nice.”
Which is the one film which made you fall in love with Indian cinema?
“Probably Shah Rukh Khan’s movie, Fan.”
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Modelling or acting?
“I like both because modelling is like silent acting.”
One secret talent that no one knows about?
“I can touch my nose with my tongue.”
One show you’re binge-watching right now?
“Sacred Games 2”
The gorgeous actress tells us she has another interesting project lined up and we can’t wait to find out more about it hopefully soon!