ModelSpeak: Life is unpredictable, so get used to it
What makes a model successful? Sacrifice, patience and focus, says Archana Akhil Kumar
Archana Akhil Kumar has been modelling since she was 20.
A Commerce graduate, Kumar hails from Bangalore and has been walking for Lakme for eight seasons now.
She's all of 24 and has been the muse for several top Indian designers including Manish Malhotra, Gaurav Gupta and Tarun Tahiliani to name just a few.
Sacrifice, patience and focus are the three values that Kumar says she lives by.
In a business as fickle as fashion, it is easy to lose one's way.
"Every day you meet new models.
"Each of them is out there to prove themselves.
"With experience, you learn to be calm and focussed,” she says while talking about the challenges of surviving in the profession.
In fact, on Day Four of the Lakme Fashion Week, Kumar had a situation.
Having done three shows one after another, the exertion was piling on her.
She had barely stepped up on the ramp when she had an excruciating backache.
If that wasn't enough, she was wearing tall heels and was required to walk the stretch gracefully and at a glacial pace.
She did it. No one watching her knew.
that is the nature of her job.
In a quick conversation between shows, Kumar reveals how she manages to stay so focussed and how life has changed for her both on and off the ramp.
What inspired you to pursue modelling?
I always wanted to be a model. I think it's an exciting career because it allows you to meet new people, travel to new places and wear the latest in fashion.
How did your family react when you told them you wanted to become a model?
Thankfully there was no drama.
My mother was very supportive.
She realised that I was clear about what I wanted. And she believed in my dreams.
I owe a lot to my family for supporting my decision and letting me pursue it.
The one model who inspires you...
Candice Pinto! Since the time I met her, she has guided me a lot.
She's a stunning model and more importantly, she's a beautiful human being.
The designers you admire...
I like Gaurav Gupta for the sheer amount of dedication.
He's made a niche for himself. He has stars wearing his outfits to the Grammy and Oscars.
What more can a designer ask for?
I also admire Manish Malhotra.
Although his designs look simple, the grandeur with which he presents them is amazing.
What is your secret to staying so fit?
I work out quite religiously.
I eat healthy.
I avoid carbs, fats, cheese and fine flour products in particular.
I love soups, fibre, greens and all kinds of protein foods.
Tell us about your most difficult phase and how you overcame it…
I was in Class 12 and days before my final exam, I lost my father.
I am the only daughter to my parents.
That was the first time I realised that after Dad, there was no one to take care of my mother.
I had to complete my education and find a career that would secure our future.
My father's death was a wake-up call.
I became more focussed and responsible to my career.
The best life lesson you've learned...
Life is unpredictable, so get used to it.
Try to be a little extra strong today than you were yesterday.
Your advice to aspiring models...
Be focussed about what you want from your life and career.
Ask yourself why you want to be in this profession.
Once your priorities are clear, you won't have a problem choosing the work you want to do.
Stay fit and make the most of today.
Image: Model Archana Akhil Kumar
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com