'Fashion in India is also growing. But there are times when I have faced racism.'
'Some people just aren't good. Models are exploited.'
'Always have a second plan in mind if work isn't going the way you want it.'
Nagaland-born Carol Humtsoe talks about what it means to be a model in India.
She looks unconventional. Her dreamy eyes can light up any room with joy. And her enchanting smile will make your heart melt.
Delhi-based model Carol Humtsoe is quite popular in the Indian modelling industry. The pretty model has appeared in advertisements for brands Kenstar, Airtel and Bajaj. She even had a small role in Ekta Kapoor's sex comedy, Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum, in 2012.
Carol, who hails from Dimapur, Nagaland, and belong to the Lotha tribe, started her career in modelling at the age of 16 with small fashion shows in Guwahati, Dimapur and Shillong.
Mainstream modelling happened only after she moved to New Delhi for higher studies.
The first Naga model to have signed a contract with Elite Model Management in 2010 (since the last five years, she is with modelling agency Toabh Talents), Carol was seen walking at the recently concluded Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2016.
Taking out some time from her busy schedule, she spoke to Tista Sengupta/Rediff.com about her journey as a model, how she took guidance from other established models from north-east India and the casting couch syndrome that prevails in the industry.
Tell us about your journey into the world of modelling.
After completing Class 12 from S D Jain Girls College in Dimapur, Nagaland, I shifted to New Delhi to pursue graduation in sociology from Motilal Nehru College in 2009.
While I was studying, my brother Stephen Lotah, who's a freelance stylist, asked me to do a photoshoot for one of his look books. The pictures were clicked by fashion photographer Rahul Dutta who liked my work. That's how my career in modelling started.
In the beginning, I felt lost. The people and the culture were new to me. Unlike the people in Delhi, I am not an outgoing person. It was very difficult for me to connect with them.
Work was slow initially, but I had my brother to guide me. He helped me meet people in the industry and, gradually, I started getting work.
I did editorial shoots for fashion magazines like Elle and Sports International and print advertisement for brands like Cantabil, FastTrack and Wella. I would travel to places like Goa, Alibaug, Dharamshala and Manali.
Sometimes, I went back home where I own a store called 'Carol's Shop' that sells fashionable clothes and accessories.
When did you get your big break?
Walking at the Lakme Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2015 was my big break.
I participated in the LFW Insta Diva contest, won and my journey at LFW started.
Your first paid modelling assignment.
It was a video for the NDTV show, I Am Too Sexy For My Shoes, in 2010.
What are the pros and cons of having an Oriental face?
Earlier, the market was limited for girls with an Oriental look. In the last two years, it has opened up. Fashion in India is also growing. This makes me really happy.
But there are times when I have faced racism. Recently, at a rehearsal for a fashion show, I heard someone say loudly, 'Her face is too Chinese.'
Honestly, I feel sad for such people. Being artists, they should be able to accept different faces. But you can't educate them.
Did you get guidance from any of the models from the north-east who were already working in the industry?
Esther Jamir -- a model from north-east who had walked for Manish Arora for one of his shows in India and now runs a modelling agency, Urban Latin Talents, in New Delhi -- was in the capital when I entered the industry.
She gave me tips on whom to approach in the industry. Whenever I felt lost, I consulted Esther.
What do you think about the other established models?
The senior models usually have their group of friends but they are nice and do help the newcomers. Kanishtha Dhankar, in particular, was very sweet.
The best thing about being a model?
In 2013, I went to Paris for a hair show for the brand Wella. That was the best thing that has happened to me so far in my modelling career.
Things happening in the Indian modelling industry that upset you…
The casting couch still seems to exist in the industry. Some people just aren't good. Models are exploited.
How do you stay so fit?
I watch what I eat. I avoid rice. I eat a lot of vegetables.
Every year, I go to Dharamsala (in Himachal Pradesh) for a month to learn yoga. After I return, I continue to practise what I have learnt. Sometimes I do yoga for half an hour. Sometimes, I ditch yoga and just meditate.
I usually do Ashtanga yoga which includes a lot of stretching of the body.
I don't work out in the gym, but I make sure that I go for a run every day.
Tell us about your diet.
I start my morning with carrot and beetroot juice, followed by a lot of vegetables like broccoli, carrots, lettuce and beans and fruits like berries and apples.
I eat fish for protein. I eat chicken twice in a week and avoid red meat. It's only when I am at a restaurant and want to try something new in red meat that I have it.
I keep my evening meals light and just have tomato juice with bread.
When I am at work, I carry a lot of dry fruits and apples in my bag. I ensure that I eat despite my hectic schedule.
I like Indian sweets like gulab jamun, ras malai and besan laddoo. I crave for them at times.
Your favourite designers?
I like Bodice, Three Clothing, Pella and Delhi-based designer Anuj Bhutani's creations. Internationally, I like Vera Wang. All these designers create classy, constructed and comfortable clothing.
Your personal style…
…Keeps changing. Most of the time, you will see me in easy-breezy outfits. I don't wear a lot of colours. I like pastels.
Your advice to aspiring models.
Have patience. Be comfortable with yourself. Dream, but be yourself. Never meet people randomly. Read up about them first. Remember, eventually it will all fall into place.
Favourite travel destination.
I would love to go to Santorini, Greece.
Recently, television personality Pratyusha Banerjee -- who was just 24 -- committed suicide. Some say it was because of lack of work, the others say it was because of her not-so-happy relationship with her boyfriend. Whichever the case maybe, what do you think women should do?
Be in a good environment with good friends around. Keep doing something else. Always have a second plan in mind if work isn't going the way you want it.
Keep yourself positive. If I am not working, for example, I keep travelling and pick up stuff for my shop.