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'Don't starve yourself to become a model'

Last updated on: July 13, 2010 19:36 IST

'Don't starve yourself to become a model'


Nithya Ramani

In an interview with, exotic Indo-Australian model Lisa Haydon tells us about her modelling career, her personal life and a few of her favourite things.

She's one of the hottest faces on the Indian catwalk and now she's set to light up the big screen next month, with her first acting performance in Anil Kapoor's home production Aisha.

Statuesque and sultry, 24-year-old model Lisa Haydon is as effervescent in real life as she is poised on the ramp. Among other things, she tells us about how her career, why people think of her as 'snooty' and why she'd rather be an actor instead of a supermodel. Excerpts from an interview:

How did you first get into modelling and subsequently acting?

It just kind of happened, you know? It wasn't really planned. I was living in Australia at the time -- I'd moved there after finishing my studies. I was at that point in my life where I really didn't know what I wanted to do. So a friend of mine just said to me, 'Why don't you come try out at my modelling agency?' And I was like okay, whatever, I'll do anything, you know? And then it just rolled from there.

I came back to India to visit my family a year later and I started hosting a TV show here; that kept me in India for a year and a half. I signed a contract without thinking of any repercussions! But I'm so glad that I did it, it just kind of rolled from there, modelling happened very naturally.

Acting was a lot like that too -- after I moved to Mumbai and started modelling here. I think in this profession, after a point directors ask to see you. Who's this new girl, who's this fresh face? They're looking for somebody to cast in their next film. In your own mind, you're also thinking that if people are interested in me in this way, maybe I should be interested in them too. And I guess that's where the interest originally came from.

And as a kid, I wanted to be an actress -- I wanted to be a star when I was a child (laughs). So I think it's always been inside of me somewhere.

How did your parents take to your choice of career, did they have any reservations?

Obviously, my parents' aspirations for me would be that I be happy. Their only worry would have been, is she going to do well at this, is this something that she can take forward in her life? After 30, what was I going to do?

But I think now that they've seen I've done well, that's encouraging for them and they're happy to let me do whatever.

Photographs: Cover of Elle Magazine

'It's a hard industry and people will definitely judge you'

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What are the golden rules of the fashion industry? And particularly, what tips would you give to those who are looking to get into modelling?

I didn't realise this until I was at a shoot recently, where I saw this girl who was a newer model. I didn't know whether I should tell her or not, but I realised that body language and being aware of your body are so important.

I've been asked this question so many times and I'd say just little things like remembering your feet and your hands, being really poised, are important. I think it's really up to you as well, what you want -- if you want it, you'll have it. You really will.

I would recommend that you take up modelling if you have what it takes. I mean, if you don't, then you're in for a lot of disappointments. I think it's very important to be objective with yourself. 'Is this something that I can do?' 'Do I have the attributes to be a model?' You have to ask yourself those things. If you've got to starve yourself too much or sacrifice too much of your happiness, then don't do it.

There are so many other things that you can do. It's a hard industry and people will definitely judge you based on the way that you look and all of that. So if you're doing well with modelling then carry on with it, but if it's not working out then I would just say don't do that to yourself.

After Viveka Babajee's tragic death, a lot of people are pointing a finger at the world of glamour as a lonely place with a darker side to things. What is your take on the situation?

I don't think it's a lonely industry -- again, I guess it really depends on you. Are you really grounded? What kind of family background you come from? How much are you willing to invest emotionally into your work? I think all of those things matter.

Photographs: Sanjay Sawant
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'I don't think it's professional to start making everyone your best buddy'

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Would you say that's the downside of modelling?

I'm not supposed to comment on that (laughs), the brands I endorse have specifically told me not to comment on the issue. But in defense of the modelling industry I don't think that it's a dark industry -- it's only if you allow that much darkness into yourself. I think I'll leave it at that.

With the competition so fierce, would you say it's difficult to make friends from the same fraternity?

I have a girl who's just stepped into the industry and I've become really close to her. She's asked me, 'Lisa, who do I trust?' I'm like, you know what -- I have friends, but they're at home. They're not here.

Even if I had an office job, I wouldn't expect everyone in the office to be my best friend. I wouldn't open up everything to them either. I think it's important to have good working relationships and I think it's professional to keep them working relationships. I don't think it's professional to start making everyone your best buddy.

How do you maintain your figure? Any diet advice you can share with readers?

Eat a big breakfast and have a small dinner. Other than that I can't really give diet tips because I know nothing about it either! (laughs)

I exercise, that's my diet. Eat whatever you want and just exercise, but I do try and have a healthy breakfast in the morning.

You sound like quite a fitness freak. What's your exercise regime like?

I do various, different kinds of workouts, I like to mix it up. I do yoga, I work with something called a power plate at the gym, which is a vibrating machine. I also use the stepping machine and I run. Oh, and I swim once a week.

Photographs: Manish Sharma
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'Tune into the fashions, but then also make them your own'

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You have a flawless complexion -- how do you keep your skin glowing?

Drink lots of water -- but again, my daddy gave me my complexion! (laughs)

I always drink two glasses of water in the morning, big ones. And sleep definitely makes a difference, I know this for sure. If you have a night drinking alcohol, it will definitely show -- if not the next day then two days later.

What is your personal sense of style like? Do you have advice and tips you'd like to share with readers on how to stay and look beautiful?

I really think that style is the way somebody wears something, it's the kind of attitude with which they wear it or the way they put it together. So my style is really Lisa, I guess -- it's the way I wear my clothes! I think I'm very bohemian-chic.

Wear whatever suits you, something that really flatters your body -- your clothes should do something for you. If you've got short legs, wear heels and never wear two small items together, that just doesn't go down very well. I mean, tune into the fashions, but then also make them your own.

As for accessorising, keep it light -- it depends on what you're wearing. I like to wear one big piece of statement jewellery like a big bijou ring and just keep it at that. And I love hairbands, but if you wear a hairband, don't wear a necklace. And I really love bangles, bangles are my favourite.

My dressing really depends on my mood -- I've noticed I have two very specific sorts of styles. One is quite black, like black corsets, black jeans, black dresses, that kind of thing, lace. And the other one is very light and flirty, floral and bohemian. One is night and one is day.

Who are your favourite designers?

Manish Malhotra and Tarun Tahiliani.

Photographs: Sanjay Sawant
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'I don't think I could ever work a 'regular' job'

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You've become quite a known face on the Indian ramp. When did you realise for the first time that you're famous?

Am I? (laughs) I don't think I've realised that yet! Am I famous?

Seriously though, I think my first moment when that happened was when Elle called me to do a magazine cover. I think that was the first indication that I'm kind of doing okay at this (modelling).

And then after that, I think it was when I started seeing magazines, write-ups and interviews of mine come out. I'd be like, oh, that's what all this hard work has been about. It's coming to fruition, but I don't think there's ever a moment when you feel famous. I still don't think that I'm famous -- when I see famous people, I think they're famous.

Shah Rukh Khan, Angelina Jolie, in India Sonam Kapoor -- when people recognise who you are anywhere you go, I think that makes you famous.

Who are today's best-looking Bollywood actor and actress, according to you?

Actor I would say Hrithik Roshan. I just saw I Hate Luv Storys and I thought Imran Khan was really cute in that too. And actress, I think Aishwarya is beautiful and Sonam.

If you could take your pick as either an actor or supermodel, which would it be?

Oh! Between a male actor and a male model, who would I choose to date, you mean?

No, your own choice of career.

Oh, okay. Hmm? I don't know. (pauses)

You know what? I would choose actor, because being an actor you also end up being a model, in a way. You get both, no? You end up shooting for magazines and going on tours and endorsing brands (smiles).

If you had to pick a job other than modelling, what would you want it to be and why?

I'd be a dancer. I don't think I could ever work a 'regular' job, per se, that's just not in my nature. But I would be a dancer or maybe a choreographer. Or a writer.

Photographs: Uttam Ghosh
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'People who don't know me think I'm unapproachable'

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What is your passion in life?

I think people, for sure. Talking to people, getting to know people, being with people. And the beach, so being with people on the beach. (smiles)

In your spare time, what do you best enjoy doing?

First off, I don't have spare time (laughs). My time is my time. But in my free time, I like to exercise. Especially in Mumbai, I think exercising is very important to keep your mind fresh, just awake and in the present. And being with the people in my family, for sure.

What's your biggest quirk?

I think I am a quirk! It's true -- people who don't know me and look at me think that I'm very, you know, snooty and unapproachable. And when they get to know me, they're like, 'You're just a big goofus.'

And I think maybe in situations where I'm not comfortable enough to be that goofus, I might just sit quietly and look serene because I'm tall and everything...but it's a trick!

But I don't think I'm unapproachable at all -- am I? No. Maybe I appear that way, you know, but not really.

Do you cook? If so, what's your specialty?

I love to cook, I cook almost every night when I'm not working. I make lots of things -- I make Thai, I make pasta, I make pumpkin with feta cheese -- my friends love that.

Any phobias?

If I say it I might sound really silly. Needles -- is that a phobia?

Yeah, I'm afraid of needles. I do go for blood tests every six months, but I just get (cringes) -- the whole thing creeps me out. I hold someone's hand and I talk about something really happy. I always take a friend with me.

Photographs: Uttam Ghosh
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'I hope to gracefully finish modelling at some stage'

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Quick take

My favourite cuisine: Japanese, for sure. Sushi.

My favourite drink: I think a mojito or a lime margarita.

I love hanging out at: I like (nightclub) Blue Frog and I love having dinner at (restaurants) Wasabi and the Thai Pavilion, they have really good Thai food there. Where else do I like to go? Oris, I like Oris too when they have a sunset party.

The most frequently played song on my iPod: This is going to sound really bad, but my iPod has had the same music on it for four years because I know nothing about technology and I don't know how to plug it in. But at home I listen to a variety of music that my friends play. There's always something in my car, something someone's dropped off. Lately I've been listening to the soundtrack from Across the Universe, I love that soundtrack. I love Coldplay and I like some Bollywood songs as well. And I like Lady Gaga for sure!

My best movie of all time: Sophie's Choice with Meryl Streep. And in Hindi, I like Omkara.

My favourite book: I love reading. In the night, if you put the TV on I'll be asleep in five minutes, but I can stay awake reading till two and three in the morning. Right now I'm reading two books actually, one is Everyone Worth Knowing by the same author of The Devil Wears Prada and the other is Don't Sweat Small Stuff. And I'm actually reading Erich Segal's Love Story as well. I used to love reading Paulo Coelho too and all those kinds of books.

My preferred travel destination: I was just in the Maldives, it's so blissful I can't tell you. You know, you wake up in the morning and you just put your snorkel on and just jump straight into the water. It's just another feeling, you can't see anybody or anything for miles...

My biggest indulgence: Cheese, for sure! I eat cheese everyday. I love all kinds of cheeses and chocolates too.

My biggest challenge: Me, I think -- my mind. I think that's everyone's challenge, You know, I think you can do anything if you believe it in your mind.

Things that turn me on in a man: A sense of humour and just being emotionally switched on, being an open person.

Biggest turn-offs: Smelly feet! Or men that curse, or just generally abrasive men. Someone who's not very chivalrous.

My idea of a perfect date: I've had a few perfect dates (smiles), they're usually on the beach. Wine, a nice meal, good company.

I can't leave home without: Lip balm, my house keys and my phone.

My future plans: I don't really make plans. I hope to gracefully finish modelling at some stage without being kicked off the ramp. But before that happens, I think something else will occupy my interest. I think that everything happens for a reason and then things just flow. It's always been that way with me.

Photographs: Uttam Ghosh
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