A Beauteous Bundle Of Talent - Mariam Ansari

Starting her career as an RJ at the age of 10, Mariam Ansari has come a long way in the Pakistani entertainment industry. With dramas like Chadar, Agar Tum Na Hote, Bunty I Love You and Dil Lagi to her credit, she has time and again proved herself as an actor who knows her craft and is here to stay. Mariam opens up about work, love and her future plans in a confab with us on a lazy evening. Excerpts:

The gorgeous lady, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, moved to Pakistan along with her family when she was nine-and-a-half-years old and that is when she believes her “life changed forever”. “Coming to Pakistan was the best decision my parents have ever taken,” she tells me. How difficult was it to leave her school and friends and move to a place she knew nothing about, I enquire. “I was quite young, so I didn’t know much about Pakistan. All I knew was that all my cousins were here, so I was really happy to move,” she says gleefully.

While most of us didn’t even know how to make friends at the age of 10, Mariam was RJ-ing a show at Radio Active 96 FM all on her own. “My brother was doing radio, so I thought I want to do it too. Like him, I wanted to go out, do my own thing and earn my own money,” says the girl who then auditioned for a kids’ show and got her very first job immediately. According to popular belief, it is difficult for a child artiste to manage their education but that wasn’t the case for Mariam. “It wasn’t really difficult for me to manage work with studies. My show used to run over the weekends, so I could easily do both.”

However, the talented actress confesses that she wasn’t a high achiever in school. “While my brother was book smart, I was street smart. I was more into sports and all the extracurricular activities. I was a very competitive kid and I loved doing everything. My teachers had to put in extra effort on my studies but they used to love me a lot,” she shares with a coy smile.

After doing radio for some time, Mariam decided to pursue her dream of becoming an actor. “I started auditioning and got selected for a theatre play and there was no turning back since then,” she unfolds. After working in plays like Avanti the Musical, Cinderjutt and Tom, Dick and Harry for two years, she auditioned for a private production house and instantly bagged a role. Since then, the dexterous artiste has been working unstoppably her way up to stardom.

Every actor goes through a creative process while preparing for a character. Mariam, who is a character actor, finds similarities between the character she has to play and someone she knows. “I try to see how that person functions and then adopt that into my acting. Every character is probably a person you know,” she gives away a million-dollar advice to all the actors struggling to get into character.

What kind of character would she like to do in future, I ask. “One with no rona dhona. I would love to do a strong character. I am a feminist and I believe that element is missing from our plays,” she says while acknowledging the fact that “a lot of stories are being written about strong women” but she emphasises on the need of more powerful female characters. “Why can’t we show stronger women on the screen? Why is marriage the ultimate goal of a woman? They are always shown crying on screen and we need to change that narrative.”

Mariam played one such strong character in her recent drama Dil Lagi. “It was my favourite project. It has taught me a lot in terms of acting and family values. It taught me patience,” says the woman, who shows all the signs of being independent and strong herself.

Although the 21-year-old starlet is all set to make her movie debut on Eid-ul-Azha, she says her “focus is on dramas right now because that’s the base of our industry. I would definitely turn to films if I get good roles.” Talking about her experience in the fraternity, she reveals, “This industry helps you grow. It can either make you or break you and in my case it has made me a stronger, better person. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

When it comes to taking inspiration from someone in the industry, the charming lady looks up to her Bunty I Love You co-star, Saba Qamar. “She is hands down the best actress in our industry right now. I look up to her not only for her acting but also for her personality. She is a charmer and I love that about her,” she professes her love for the mega star.

The jovial girl is an extrovert but also likes to spend time on her own. “I am the kind of person who would do stuff on their own – sit alone, listen to music and do my own thing.” While she cherishes her me-time, she also likes to spend time with her friends. “I won’t say I have a lot of friends; I have a few and I love them to the core. They know me from the time I was an ordinary girl and have been with me through thick and thin,” she declares.

Being a family person, the warm-hearted girl loves spending time with her family. “My mom and dad are super cool! They have never stopped me from doing anything, be it swimming, practicing football, or my career choices. They wanted to become actors when they were young but they were never allowed to do that, so when my brother and I wanted to enter the entertainment industry, they were quite ecstatic, they said, ‘Jo hum nai kar sake, woh yeh karenge.’ My brother, Ali is everything to me; he is my guardian angel and protector. Whatever I am today is because of him,” she says in awe.

“I think love is all about family. Everyone leaves you, but your family is going to stand by you no matter what. This is pure and unconditional love,” she opens up about her understanding of the term ‘love’.

“I don’t believe in modern-day relationships. I am not saying I don’t believe in love marriages but I think one should not waste their time with someone they are not going to marry,” she asserts. “Marriage is beautiful and I would love to tie the knot when I find the right person,” she goes on to say what her Mr Perfect should be like – “someone who is hilarious and happy! I want someone who doesn’t get angry.”

Mariam also happens to be a fitness freak. “Working out and eating healthy comes naturally to me. It’s like I have a switch in my brain. When my trainer tells me I can’t have chicken and I have to eat fish – that’s all I do. Of course, it is difficult when you start – when I started I used to crave for cupcakes every day but then I conditioned myself that way,” says the girl who loves going to the gym and working out. “This is something I would like to do other than acting. I have enrolled myself for the ACE exam and I am studying to become a fitness trainer and nutritionist," she states.

The determined and ambitious actor plans to work harder and better, travel the world and have her own gym in future. We hope her hard work pays off and she reaches the heights that she dreams of.

Hair & Make-up: N-Pro
Coordination: Umer Mushtaq
Photography: Rohail Khalid