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Cover Story: Alaya F talks about dealing with insecurities, trolling, love and more

Alaya F may just be a film old, but she has a massive fan following on and off social media. Her presence and personality can both charm you within minutes and she instantly calms your nerves with her infectious smile and energy. She’s part of the newest generation of actors and has a lot to achieve in the future. But as of today, she’s a well established name in the industry with a fine debut film to back up her acting and a very real social media to engage with her audience regularly. 

Alaya F gets candid with Lifestyle Asia India:

But behind the funny reels and stunning pictures is a very simple girl, trying to figure out life every day. She’s had a rebellious phase, she claims and has now found comfort in the chaos that comes along with work. She’s ‘adulting’, as we all like to put it. While we know that she’s got a whacky sense of humour and can do a perfect headstand, there’s a lot we still don’t know about this young, restless and ever-evolving diva. 

Find out where she in the current phase of her life and how she deals with the bad days in this candid and exclusive chat with Lifestyle Asia India. Excerpts… 

What do you weekends look like?
If I realise it’s a Friday early enough, then I want to go out and do something fun. But I usually play tennis up till 10:00pm every day, so by the time I’m done with that, I’m really tired. I feel I have become a very boring person, I used to be fun at one point in my life. But speaking of a standing tradition on a weekend, on Sundays, I meet up with my dad, and we have a fun lunch with my brothers. But they are currently  traveling, so I don’t have that to keep me busy on Sundays either. 

Do you think work and responsibilities have made you, what you call, ‘a boring person’?
I lived a very rebellious and crazy life from the ages of 16 to 20. I think I got out all my party girl energy and all my fun social energy out in those four years, I drained it out of me. Since then, it has just been about work. And work, in a way, has really grounded me and made me a more wholesome person in a lot of ways. When the pandemic hit, even though it was a big speed bump, I found work to do. Whether it was my social media, which I only actually got to during the pandemic. Before that, it was very boring, I would do nothing on it. I would rarely post. The pandemic was my opportunity to really reinvent and that really paid off. It’s something that I’ve been able to sustain even now. So I definitely think my work has grounded me and made me what I like to call ‘a boring person’. But I really enjoy being this person. Life is a lot less chaotic, a lot less hectic, and it doesn’t mean I  don’t go out and have fun, but it’s just what gives me joy now. 

Does it make you anxious that your last and only release was over 2 years ago?
Before the Omicron variant hit and somewhere after the second wave was just over, I had three projects pending to complete. In that short span of time between the second wave and the third wave, everyone wanted to finish off the films and the brand commitments that had been on hold for so many months. So for me, there was a point where I hadn’t gotten a single day off for almost three straight months. I was doing everything at once. It was very overwhelming because you went from a very slow style of life that lockdown put everyone into, to running at lightning speed through every single day. There were days where I was shooting one movie in the day and another one at night. It was madness in a great way. So now I’m playing a waiting game. I have three films pending to release. In the meantime, I’m doing a lot of brand commitments. I have a lot of that I keep doing on my social media and I’ve also gone back to training. I feel like anytime that I get off, it’s important to go back and train to brush up your skills and hopefully learn something new.

Do you plan out your content or are you impulsive with you social media?
It is something that I plan out. I do everything from coming up with concepts, the execution, editing, uploading to monitoring how everything is performing. My social media is very personal to me, and I hope that shows. I make an effort to make sure it is very true to me. Even if it’s a random video, I like it to say something. I don’t know what that something is, but I like content that I can watch back and say, “hey, I really like what I did there”. I’m a big appreciator of myself, so I like re-watching my content. My content evolves with me. So I definitely take charge of my own social media for sure.

You constantly seem very confident in yourself. But do you internally have days when you feel insecure?
Of course I have days like that. Everyone has days like that. But somehow knowing that you’re not alone is the first step to feeling better in those moments. The most important thing is what you do with the feeling of insecurity. You can take that feeling and bash yourself and insult yourself or you can take those feelings and see how you can either improve upon it if you feel like that’s what you want. So for me, one rule of thumb that I have developed over time is that I talk to myself the same way I would talk to someone I really care about. We speak to ourselves so badly, we put ourselves down so much all the time. I take my insecurity and I imagine how I would deal with this if it was something that someone else was dealing with. I advise myself accordingly. For example, if I wake up one day and I feel like my legs are looking fat and it’s really irritating me, I look at myself in the mirror and instead of saying, “oh my God, you’re looking so fat today,” I look at myself and say, “oh no, what have we done? Come on, let’s go to the gym and fix this nicely.”

Do you ever hold back on social media to avoid trolling?
I am very real on social media and everything I put is authentic. But what you have to put out has to always be filtered because I’m still only one film old. I don’t want what I say to be more important than what I do at this point. I want to first establish myself as someone that is worthy of being here, that does her job well, that people can respect. But is it always important to put out every single emotion, thought and feeling out on social media? Is it really that important?
There’s also the added responsibility of people looking up to you. you endorse a product, they want to go out and get it. You put something out on social media, a life tip, a hack or something, and they will try it. There’s this responsibility to it and I don’t like to ignore that responsibility. I take it very seriously. So, of course what I put out there is filtered. It’s not 100% of who I am, and I don’t think it will ever be 100% of who I am. But what is out there is authentically me. But it’s probably 40% of me.

Talking of authenticity and change, how do you think love has evolved for the millennials and Gen Z?
Love is always evolving but that doesn’t mean that there was ever a type of love that was more authentic or less authentic. Love will always evolve and love will always change forms. The same way human beings in general are changing opinions and how they are and who they are. It is very unrealistic to associate the standards of the past when there used to be one letter and a lot of waiting. I don’t think comparing it makes any sense. Where I am at right now, I am building a life, building a career, as many of us are at this stage of our lives. We’re figuring life out for ourselves. We’re trying to empower ourselves and people around us. So I think what I look for in love is just someone that can also empower me, something that isn’t demanding as much as it is rewarding.

Are you on any dating apps?

I have been on dating apps. I was on Tinder when I was in college in New York. It was good fun. I met lots of really cool people. I honestly don’t think I met anyone that I really liked romantically, but it was more about meeting really cool people in a really cool city and I always had a fun story to tell. It was interesting and I felt like I learned so much through that whole experience. But in Bombay, I definitely can’t be on dating apps. I don’t think it’s feasible at all. Anyone that’s even remotely a public figure can not be on dating apps here. Mostly, they don’t believe it’s you secondly, there are so many other concerns and factors you have to consider. It’s definitely not feasible here.

Are you and your mother more similar or different personality wise?

It’s very simple. The way we talk is very similar. What we talk is very different. So when I’m talking, people tell me I talk just like my mother. But what we are saying are two very different things. When we’re in a room and we start arguing because we have different opinions it’s very funny because it sounds like two people that are talking in the exact same way but are saying such different things to each other.

You have been appreciated for how you conduct yourself in public. Especially when you spoke of nepotism and privilege, people applauded you for your answers. Is that something that you’ve groomed yourself for over time or does it come from some experience? 

I knew when I came into the public eye that I would be asked a lot of questions. So I wanted to make sure that before I had to answer those questions, I was very clear on what I felt personally. Because a lot of the time, if once just reacts to things in the spur of the moment, even if you mean it a certain way, it might not come out that way. So it wasn’t what I wanted to say, but how I wanted to say it. For the majority of my life and training, I have not really been in filmy circles. Most of the people that I knew during my training or most of my friends even today, are all, what everyone would call ‘outsiders’. I didn’t really have insider friends. So during that time, I very clearly saw differences between the way my journey went and my other friends’ journeys went. Even though we all were working very hard and chasing the same goal. We all were training from morning to night. There were differences. That’s when I realized that even though we were all struggling, I figured that even in our struggles, we are privileged. At the end of the day, at that point especially, I didn’t have to go back and figure out how to get my rent together for that month or other things that come into play when you are perhaps not from a place of privilege. But it wasn’t like in the spur of the moment I thought of that when someone asked me about it. It was something that had been on my mind.  was aware of it for a long time because I was just surrounded by it all the time.

Cover Story: Alaya F talks about dealing with insecurities, trolling, love and more

Analita Seth

Managing Editor

Analita Seth has previously worked as an entertainment journalist with Filmfare. When off duty, she's either binging on some true crime documentary, exploring new eateries around town, day-dreaming about travelling to cities on her bucketlist or scrolling through make-up tutorials on social media.

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