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GLAMOUR Women In Charge: Ayushi Chhabra

Indian-born, South African-raised actress, model and performing artist Ayushi Chhabra is unapologetically occupying space across industries. Here, she chats her role on Resident Evil, the women on her radar, and her message for Women’s Month.

Although some people may attribute their misfortunes to rejection, it’s the opposite for Ayushi, who attributes her success to “every rejection, every heartbreak (professional and personal), every unexpected detour, every failure that humbled me and made me the person I am today.” She also credits her family which has been instrumental in shaping into a woman in charge. “I say this over and over again, but I am absolutely nothing without my parents. Without my mother’s patient listening, my father’s sweet words of encouragement and my brother’s tough love – I would never be able to rise up every time life knocked me down.”

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Her outlook on life is quite inspirational, and shares that the end of 2020, her Entertainment Visa expired and due to the pandemic, and it was incredibly difficult to renew work visas. “I had to make the tough decision to uproot her life from LA and move back to South Africa.”

She was on the brink of giving up on her dreams and aspirations, when in March 2021, “my manager and South African agents sent her me audition for a project shooting in Cape Town, for the role of ‘Amrita Singh’ (an American Indian scientist).“ The project was under an alias name. Ayushi went in, did the audition, didn’t think twice about it – as she had already given up hope on acting and had no expectations.

A month later, randomly, one morning…her agent gave her a call and said, “you got the part for the project, and it is none other than ‘Resident Evil’. It is shooting in Cape Town and you are required on set this weekend.” This is the call the changed the trajectory of her life. Resident Evil premiered on Netflix on July 14th.

She is back in LA, and will be appearing in a feature film titled ‘Love Me Stupid’ releasing in fall of 2022. The gorgeous thespian also shares that she’s working on a book that details her adventures as a single South Asian woman in her thirties, navigating a life in the entertainment business, away from her family, in the midst of a pandemic. We caught up with her just in time for Women’s Month.

Image: Supplied

Glamour: What does Women's Month mean to you?

Ayushi: It is a reminder of the resilience, the simplicity, the honesty of the women I looked up to, the women who raised me and the women who empower, support and uplift other women. Every day we are surrounded by women who are heroes in their own right – my mother, for example, is an immigrant Indian woman who moved to South Africa 17 years ago and raised a family here, assimilated to a whole new culture, learned to speak proper English, and built a home away from home. Like her, there are many women around us who have quietly made sacrifices for the betterment of their family and may this month be a reminder to us to acknowledge that.

Glamour: Why is it important to celebrate the women of SA?

Ayushi: The women of SA are warriors. Their spirit is unbreakable. Whether it is covid, inflation, load-shedding, political unrest, flooding, no matter what the issue – the women of this country have been at the forefront of fighting anything that threatens the peace of this nation, of their family, their environment, many times at the expense of their own lives, livelihoods, and safety. South African women not only need to be celebrated but they also need to be more protected, their voices need to be more heard, their contributions need to be more respected, their rights need to be more recognized.

Glamour: What's your take on representation in the entertainment industry?

Ayushi: Honestly, it is a great time to be an artist. I am seeing more and more diverse casting and the world is also becoming a smaller place. Through self-tape auditions, someone based in SA can audition for a part shooting in LA. So there is definitely more opportunity, more possibilities and never before in history has audience been so receptive to diversity and inclusion. The show I recently did (Resident Evil) is a prime example of how a diverse cast can draw in a global audience. Having said that, this is just the beginning. We need to get to a stage where we don’t even need to have this conversation.

Glamour: What does it mean to you to be a woman in charge?

Ayushi: A woman in charge takes accountability of her thoughts, words and deeds. She realizes that she is the only person responsible to bring a change in her life. She does not carry a victim mentality, she does not blame circumstances, luck or the universe. She takes ownership of her destiny, steers her life in the direction of her dreams and takes responsibility for her overall wellness.

Glamour: What keeps you grounded both personally and professionally?

Ayushi: My upbringing that I am not above anyone or anything. And my experience has taught me that anything that goes up can go down so never take success or failure too seriously. Living in humility is the only way to live peacefully.

Glamour: Which women are on your radar and why?

Ayushi: Priyanka Chopra Jonas who is not only a world-renowned actress but also the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Her career and her humanitarian work with children & women is deeply inspiring to me. It is exactly the life trajectory that I aspire to have one day – to be able to use my voice and resources to uplift women and children from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially refugees and immigrants.

Also, my best friend Richa Moorjani, who is an extremely talented actress on the hit TV show Never Have I Ever. She has also used her platform to speak on sustainability, veganism, and climate change. She is such an important positive influence in my life – I look up to her in every way.

Glamour: What type of conversations do you gravitate towards and why?

Aysuhi: I gravitate towards conversations about self-development, spirituality, life lessons, success and failure, whether in career or love. I’d say my favorite thing to hear from people is how they healed their broken hearts, how they recovered from their worst addictions, pain and suffering, how they picked themselves up. I love a good inspirational story, a good underdog experience.

Glamour: What's your message for Women's Month?

Aysuhi: I only have one message – we hear a lot about#empoweredwomenempowerwomen, and I believe instead of just posting about that on social media, let’s be women that actually empower one another, sometimes simply by listening without judging, taking notice of each other’s feelings, creating space for one another, helping each other even if it is a small gesture.

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