She brings in the light wherever she goes. If there is ever a prize for the ‘happiest’ and most positive girl in Bollywood, Jacqueline Fernandez would win it hands down. Perhaps that’s why we have always enjoyed meeting Jacky. She is one star who hasn’t changed a bit in all these years. Actually, wait a moment… there is a change. Jacqueline is different when we meet her this time. The wide smile and warmth is still intact but her recent experiences have added a sheen of maturity and depth to her sunny persona. Which just makes her more well-rounded than before!
In the last few months, she has made headlines for flying off to LA to join an acting class with renowned teacher Ivana Chubbuck. She has signed a Netflix film that presents her in a new avatar and of course, her UAE connect has been strengthened thanks to an endorsement deal with local retailer SPLASH Fashions. It was just the right time to ask her…
Much has changed and happened in your life. Are we meeting Jacqueline 2.0?
Wow, I love that! I don’t know, I actually do feel a bit of a shift. I think I have probably just grown up a little in my mind. I am starting to see things as well as my own self, differently. And when that actually happens to you, it’s a great space to be in.
How did this journey toward reinvention begin?
It began sometime last year. And now, it’s been an entire year of taking a step back to understand what really matters to me. It was also about not trying to rush or trying to do too much and feel stressed all the time. I think that’s what I used to do. I would continuously just work, work and work. Perhaps that was a way camouflaging stress or fear! I decided to take time off and start doing things that actually mattered, felt right and were more meaningful. I also ended up training a lot, something I was never able to fit into a schedule because I was so busy working. All these realisations opened my eyes to several good things and people.
Reinvention is for actors and even the average, regular professional. What are the things you keep in mind while you give yourself a makeover?
You need to keep in mind that things take time. So be patient, good things will happen! You also need to keep believing. Usually reinvention comes at a time when you feel low and lost. So I think, continuously reprogramming your mind to believe is very important. Often we tend to see only what we want to, which most of the time, isn’t great – we might end up looking at the negative side more than the positive. If you can, try and readjust and change it by reprogramming yourself, having better affirmations and saying good things to yourself. Eventually all that materialises and becomes real. So that’s the key to reinvention I guess.
You have always been an entrepreneur, getting into hospitality and fitness and now, associating with SPLASH. How is it different this time?
What is different this time is the focus. I got into entrepreneurship two or three years ago. It started with restaurants, fitness and then I started my own athleisure. At the same time, I was juggling my films and performing at events. It was only last year I decided that I needed to focus. Now, everything I do are my passion projects, from films to the businesses to the brands I endorse. I don’t look at them as a financial gain anyway. These are things I love doing but it was only about refocusing. The questions I asked myself were – who am I? What do I want to do and what were the brands I want to be working with? In that process, the (mental) shift happened and it made my life much more streamlined. That’s how I have been living now.
You made news for attending the acting classes in LA, how has your approach to your craft changed?
It’s completely changed! I think what was missing earlier was the understanding of the craft. I now have a new-found respect about things we took for granted. Earlier, it was like ‘oh it’s acting, anybody can do it’. But then I would arrive on the set and feel very stressed because I had no formal training or understanding of the nuances or techniques that I could pull up and use. I didn’t want that stress anymore. But the training really helped me appreciate what we do. Also, being in a room with aspiring actors was inspirational. There were people who were travelling three hours to and fro, just to attend the class because they didn’t live close enough to LA . There were those who were juggling two jobs just to pay for the class. All these experiences made me respect the position I was in. I learnt not to take it for granted, on the contrary, I realised I needed to work and train even harder. So it was a great experience overall.
That’s why we said Jacqueline 2.O, right?
Haha yea I never thought about that!
Has this shift in attitude reflected on the brands you select as well?
Absolutely. When it comes to brands, celebrities and influencers get an opportunity to endorse different products. But instead of taking along whatever comes my way, now I want to work with brands that reflect me in the truest sense and those I believe in. With SPLASH, since 70% of their clothing is sustainable fashion, I found it quite amazing.
Sustainable fashion is the buzz word, how would you spread the message?
I feel endorsing a brand that’s responsible makes a difference and creates an awareness by itself. Celebrities, I feel, by putting their foot down and refusing to endorse the wrong message, make a positive impact. We are influencing so many people, why not focus on sending the right message? I know it’s difficult at times to say no, but well…
Have you said no to brands?
Definitely! I don’t like endorsing things that aren’t healthy. We do quite a bit of research as sometimes these projects can backfire on a celebrity.
What do you think it takes to stay relevant, smart and ahead of the curve in Bollywood, currently?
Yes, it’s important to stay relevant in Bollywood and ahead of the curve as well since there is no point in catching up. Right now, there is a lot going on. A Bollywood celebrity is expected not just to act but act really well, look good and stand out. There is just too much criticism going on. The other day at my building, I was surprised to hear a 9-year-old girl talk about a film she’d just seen. I heard her say, ‘I am not so sure the acting was good’! Everyone is a critic these days. So the number priority as an actor is to ensure your audiences are getting their paisa vasool.
Secondly, you need to understand trends which are changing by the minute. While many might say they don’t bother with social media, we need to understand that these things keep us relevant. Either you could choose to evolve with it or not, that’s your choice. But in this day and age, it’s important. That’s how just the cookie crumbles. So you have to be on top of everything. And it’s become not only a 24-hour-job, it’s become like a 27-hour-job (laughs). I can’t find time to sleep, just spreading my time between all of these factors. It’s so difficult!