At an impressionable age of 15, she set her foot inside the fashion industry. This dainty earthling from Bangalore, however, has come a long way in leaving an impressive mark on Earth. The platform to do so came with the ‘Miss Earth’ title that she won in 2010, which was a maiden feat for India. Along with the title came a lot of responsibility that entailed environmental activism, for it’s a role that fosters not just beauty, but a beauty that works for a cause. Henceforth, started the whirlwind journey that took her across the world. She sure was wrapped in luxury and limelight at any given point, but she also had her feet firm on the ground for a more meaningful task cut out for her.
Having worked for social and environmental initiatives, being an ambassador for various brands, walking the ramp as a supermodel and having dabbled in movies, she has gained a lot, both personally and professionally. We at TLJ strike a conversation with Nicole Faria to know more about her journey and aspirations.
You have been modeling since you were 15 years old, do you ever feel that you missed out on your teenage life?
No, instead I feel like I have gained a lot for my future. The contacts that I have made, the designers that I have worked with, the countries I have traveled, the people I have met, food and culture that I was exposed to at an early age – all this has helped me grow as an individual.
You have worked in cities across the world. Is there any fond memory related to a city that you would like to share?
Istanbul! The memories and experience of shooting the movie ‘Bir Baba Hindu’ will always remain close to my heart.
How does it feel to be the first Indian woman to win the ‘Miss Earth’ title?
It was a moment of utmost glee to be the first and, till now, the only one from India to have bagged the title. I feel honored to have created this history!
It has been more than seven years since you won the title, how has your life changed after the pageant?
After I won the pageant, the quality of work that I was exposed to shot up. I acted in three movies. I feel like I was taken more seriously. I campaigned for environmental issues worldwide and I still do. I was featured on many national and international magazine covers, walked the runway for many top designers, both in India and abroad.
How do you measure success? Do you consider yourself a successful person?
Every day I am constantly competing with myself. I strive to be better than what I was yesterday. So, every day I try and push myself to feel better, look better and do better, be it in terms of health, personal life or professional life. And yes, I do see a big change in myself now.
You have supported various social and environmental causes. How can we as individuals bring about a change in the world to make it a better place to live in?
I have always been drawn to work that has a larger outcome. Just as with Frederique Constant, for which I have been a brand ambassador, it is about luxury but also helps children with heart conditions. I feel a constant need to help people. If we all work together, we are stronger. We can spread knowledge so that others can further spread that knowledge.
I have also worked for the restoration of lakes in Bangalore as their number has gone down from 270 to 80 in the last 30 years. I have been a part of ‘I am plastic-free’ campaign, beach cleanups, initiatives to save elephants and tigers and massive tree plantations worldwide. It just makes me happy.
One hidden talent of yours which no one knows?
I am actually quite a handyman and I love to clean. I can fix anything whether it is related to electronics or plumbing.
Your beauty has won you many accolades but have you ever experienced any bias in the industry because of your dusky complexion?
Never. I was an integral part of the fashion industry, have appeared on many national and international magazine covers, walked the runway for many top designers. I have won three beauty pageants with this very complexion. And if anyone ever told me otherwise, I do not need their petty opinions. I have always been complimented on my sun-kissed skin. Yes, we do live in a country where many people are obsessed with fair skin but we will never be happy until we create our own happiness.
Have you faced rejection in your career ever? If so, what made you take up the challenge?
Someone very well-known in the industry told me, “What is the point in going for the Miss Earth pageant? You are not going to win anyway. And forget about talent…” Later, when I went on to win both the talent around and the pageant itself, I had the biggest smile on my face, knowing that I can achieve anything if I set my mind on it. People will always give you their opinions, but that’s just their opinion. You have to create your own path.
After ‘Yaariyan’, which did not receive very positive reviews, have you considered doing more movies?
I thought ‘Yaariyan’ did exceptionally well with box office collection of Rs 40.14 Cr. In fact, Madhuri Dixit’s comeback movie ‘Dedh Ishkiya’ released on the same day. I remember us newcomers (the cast) thinking how we will stand a chance against her comeback. However later, we were thrilled to know that we scored over that movie and were ecstatic as newcomers. ‘Yaariyan’ will always be a super success for me because no matter where I am in the world, I still get compliments from my fans and audio/video clips telling me how much they loved the film and still love to dance to the foot-tapping number ‘Sunny Sunny’.
I also did a guest appearance in ‘Katti Batti’ starring Kangana Ranaut and Imran Khan. After which I did my first European film ‘Bir Baba Hindu’ which had some very catchy Bollywood songs. Unfortunately, it is not going to release in India but it is available on Google Play. I’ve signed another Bollywood film. I can’t disclose any more details about the project as of now.
How do you maintain your figure?
The key is constant change. I never stick to one diet. I’m always switching from one thing to another to make it fun and it works for me.
Life gives you myriad options and of course, there comes a time where you have to choose. Who knows, it might happen soon or it may take some time.
In a previous interview, you said you find Ranbir Kapoor terrific. What do you like about him the most?
I love his quirkiness the most. His energy and ability to just be comfortable.
What qualities do you look for in a life partner?
I look for honesty, compatibility, security, romance, humor, and fun.
Three things you cannot live without?
Lip balm, hairbrush, and my plants!
Your personal political views, if any?
Politics is a part and parcel of every country and political parties will do what they have to do to stay in power. As citizens, we can become armchair critics but what we have to do is to exercise our right to vote. On a personal note, I wish governments could focus on shaping the infrastructure, ensuring safety and security, especially for women and children, and improving the standards of education such that children are prepared for a world that is constantly changing.
What are your future plans?
I am extremely excited to announce the launch of Morph – a beauty, slimming and wellness center. It is serving an exciting array of services administered by Bangalore’s top hairstylists, makeup artists, dermatologists, beauticians, specialists dealing in fillers, botox, hair transplant, micro pigmentation and slimming. In addition, our clients will have access to our fully integrated Morph Beauty School where they can cultivate hands-on knowledge and skills which will position them for a successful career in the beauty/entertainment industry or just help them in becoming a polished version of themselves.
How have you changed as a person in the last eight years?
Personality-wise, I’ve grown a lot in these last few years. I’ve learned to deal with both appreciation and criticism. Today, I’m the best version of myself and I learn something new every day. I’m still the fun-loving person that I was eight years ago. But I look for fun from a higher perspective now.
One of your bold photos caught attention on social media and people reacted in different ways. Do you ever worry about how people are going to react before you share your images on social media?
Always. I’m constantly aware that my posts could stir up various emotions/reactions among people. I’ve worked hard to be where I am. I’m always sensitive to social views and I definitely want to stay on the right side of those boundaries. But I’m not averse to critical views or a conservative viewpoint. It’s all a part and parcel of who we are as a society.
As a woman and as an idol for a lot of girls, what message or advice would you like to give?
I believe that women have a lot of qualities and every woman should know that she is as good as and, at times, even better than the men around her. She should always feel confident and strive to make her life better while she improves the lives of those around her. I feel good to be an icon and a role model for many in this new and ever-emerging India.