‘The happiest people are the ones that cry the most. They don’t store up their emotions, instead, they can express themselves fully and that’s the kind of person I am, which is lucky because as an actor I have to be in touch with my emotions;’ Ayesha Omar is wise beyond her years. She’s also a powerhouse of positive energy that radiates throughout the room at our Asiana photoshoot inside a trendy rooftop loft in East London. She immediately feels at home in the space, which seems unlikely for a woman who is used to glamming it up on red carpets and award shows. But Ayesha is no ordinary actress.
The 35-year-old star of Pakistani TV serial Bulbulay doesn’t just talk frankly about her personality traits: she is a fierce feminist and role model for young women in Pakistan.
Leaving her conservative home in Lahore to live in Karachi as a single woman was no easy feat, but today she’s as independent as they come. Travelling the world is part of her career, when she’s not shooting for television, she can be found flying to exotic destinations to work with brands, or if she gets time off, you’re likely not to find her at all, as she’ll be out camping under the stars enjoying her own adventures.
Ayesha enthuses: ‘I like to get away from the high maintenance lifestyle to go on adventure trips to rough it and tough it. It’s a great way to stay grounded and I’ve been to some incredible places, it’s something I’ve always done.’ The only trouble is, Ayesha can go to the remotest parts of the world and still get spotted. She explains: ‘I went up to Kelaash, considered the most disconnected part of Pakistan, they are incredibly unique with their own language, customs, and costumes and are cut off from mainstream technology apart from the fact I found out there’s a TV there and so when I arrived, everyone was shouting Khoobsurat, the name of my character in Bulbulay and I felt so humbled.’
Although Ayesha rose to prominence playing the role, acting has long been a part of her life. Growing up, many of her mum and aunt’s friends worked in the television industry and as a child, she would make appearances in TV shows. After school, she enrolled at art college and studied Fine Art. To help pay for the endless materials she needed she began acting in numerous TV shows as a job to support her through college. College Jeans which she starred in alongside Ali Zafar was a turning point and led to continuous offers for work, so she changed her plans to be an artist to concentrate on her acting career; through art is still very much a passion.
Ayesha explains: ‘I’ve always pushed boundaries. At art school, we were taught to experience life. There was no pressure, we were just learning about ourselves. As an artist, I often explored controversial subjects such as painting myself but now that I’m the public figure I have the pressure of being a role model. It’s a huge responsibility more than anywhere else in the world. In Pakistani, you are supposed to follow pre-set social norms and you have to fall into the mold of being a good