Mysuru-born model making waves in Silicon Valley
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Mysuru-born model making waves in Silicon Valley

March 11, 2019

By N. Niranjan Nikam

Right from childhood she has always been drawn to fashion, make-up and glamour and she landed up in modelling industry. The challenging part, however, is balancing both engineering and modelling which requires a lot of dedication, determination and discipline, which Nayana Vishva has in abundance.

In this pursuit of her passion, Nayana has the support of her life partner Nimish Pankaj Shah and banker parents H.R. Bhavani and R. Vishva Chaitanya. And she treads the hard path in the modelling world in the Silicon Valley, California, where she divides her time between her work and modelling assignments.

Nayana is trained in Bharatanatyam and is adept at western dance. She was creative even in her growing up years and was a part of her college (Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bengaluru) Western Dance team called ‘Fire and Ice.’ She then left for United States and did her Master’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California and joined Intel Corp in San Jose.

What is the life of a model like? She had done promos for L’Oreal when she was in Bengaluru. “I have now given up dancing as it requires a lot of week-day time. Mine is a five-day week job but even after I come home, I sit with a laptop completing my tasks. I devote weekends and sometimes weekdays for modelling,” she said.

Initially she concentrated on her job. Alongside, she started blogging on Instagram where she would style up, make up and coordinate what kind of outfits suit and what is the style. She then uploaded her photographs on Instagram and she received accolades from her parents and friends. After two years she realised that she had to move to a different level and what she was really looking for was professional recognition in modelling.

She started modelling in April 2018. The first brand promotion was for ‘Sexy Hair’ in San Jose called the ‘Spring Hair Fest.’  “Rafe Hardy, the CEO of ‘Sexy Hair’ and his team chose me in the audition where there were 40 to 50 models and I was the only Indian. The shoot starts at 8 am and goes on till 7 pm. They style my hair, allow us to interact with customers and then the photo shoot begins and the visuals are used for brand promotion,” Nayana says.

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“When I have to go for auditions I have to wear ‘Little Black Dress’ and in other auditions they ask us to wear track pant and black shirt or shorts. We need to have all these dresses with us,” she explains.

Brian Check, a Hollywood photographer, called her for theme ‘Pumpkin Patches’ and Nayana did her own outfit. Once such photo shoot is done, images are shared on Instagram and based on it a model’s network grows and she gets an opportunity to participate in more photo shoots.

What kind of competition is she facing especially in a country where the skin colour favours the white? “They do prefer white skin models. I had gone for an audition and several good models from California were rejected. Out of curiosity we went for the show later and we were shocked to see that some teenagers from Australia had been selected just to show that they had international models who looked more white than Californian models.”

Nayana is also into gymming and she works out for one hour daily after coming back from work. “Gymming helps me keep a toned body and retain the glow on my face,” she says.

Asked how her colleagues look at her interest in modelling, she says, “Looks like the society is more accepting. My colleagues and managers are typical Indian folks who have got married, have kids, and live as per Indian social norms. They say they wanted to pursue their passion but were discouraged and also they were scared. And they settled for a ‘socialising with relatives, friends on weekends’ kind of lifestyle and wasted a lot of their potential. But they encourage me and are truly happy for me. They tell me to not stop modelling.”

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Asked how her husband Nimish Pankaj Shah, who also works in Intel, takes her passion for modelling? “I strongly believe that a life partner is the one who is an ‘enabler’ of both career growth and personal growth. Nimish encourages me to achieve my dreams and practically supports it. He is not a mere ‘permission granter’ but allows me to go out and achieve my dreams.”

“He drives me to shoot locations and while I am busy shooting, he reads books or explores shops, streets near the location. He cooks for the family on the day of the shoot and on other days, he cooks three days a week and I cook on other three days. He is my best critic and all his encouragements are through actions and not words,” she says.

On Women’s Day: Empowerment is not merely limited to choice of clothing or the choice of next outing. Empowerment is how you deal with troubled waters, how much are you willing to stand up for yourself against all judgements, how fearless are you to openly call out people in power that wronged you. It means more respect and more power to all women. More respect and love for those fathers, husbands, brothers and male friends, who stand by us during troubled times.


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