Her ancestral roots may be found in the same Indian city as Aishwarya Rai, but unlike her Mangalorean acting contemporary Andria D’Souza, or Ria as she is more familiarly known, is Dubai through and through.
Born and brought up in the UAE, the beautiful Zee TV presenter, model and now film star even goes as far as to call herself a ‘Dubian,’ (Dubai-Indian) such is her affinity for the land of her birth.The current host of Zee TV’s Zee Connect, shown every Saturday at 8pm, Ria is currently celebrating both the start of her show’s second series and the recent release of her debut movie, Malayalam romantic thriller Casanovva staring ‘The Don’ of the south Indian film industry Mohanlal.Here we speak to Ria to find out more about what we can expect from Connect and what the future has in store.
As the show’s first episode went out on Saturday, what has Zee Connect got to offer Dubai?
The programme is my baby as it was where I made my first step into television. The first season went off wonderfully and I have the same hopes for this one.The show is a lifestyle programme that covers the latest goings on in the UAE. We give style and yoga tips and we have one segment where we talk about the Zee family. This involves meeting a family and discussing values, so people in today’s generation find out what being part of a family means.
So, what does family mean to you?
Family means the world to me. My mum and dad are the most special people on earth.
How did you take your first steps into a media career?
I was working in a small firm just under four years ago. I had a friend who was learning photography and asked me to model for his project. When I got the pictures back I put them on Facebook and got a great response from my friends. They constantly pushed me to go for modelling jobs, but I didn’t think it was for me. So one of my friends took the pictures from my Facebook page and sent them in to a modelling competition for LG electronics. It was to find a face for their new TV ad campaign.
One day I was out with my auntie grocery shopping and got a call from LG saying I’d been shortlisted from 200 entrants. I thought it was a prank at first. When I found out it was legitimate, I went along, but was so nervous. Every one of the girls was so beautiful. I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I had to be positive and gave it a shot. Eventually I made it to the finals. Each round we had to show eloquence and intelligence as well as style. Although I didn’t win the finals I was not disheartened. It proved I could do it and I also received the Miss Confidence award.
From there I joined the local modelling agencies. The director on one of my first print ad shoots said to me I’d be good on television. Again, I hadn’t thought about that, but signed up for the broadcast side, did a couple of adverts and never looked back. I got into a short film and from there to Zee TV.And now you can claim a part in a movie with Mohanlal, have you been studying acting?
No, acting and dancing come naturally. When I was three years old my parents saw me watching television and dancing the same routines as they were doing on the show. I still do that! I’m a freak when I dance. Put some music on and I’ll dance anywhere, I love it.
So you’re an energetic person?
One has to be! It’s how I live my life. I’m always a hyperactive person. My nature is very bubbly, very chirpy and wherever I go I like to pump up the energy. Everyone asks if I like Red Bull, but I’ve never tasted a sip. I just love passing energy on.
How do you feel Casanovva went?
The reviews were not great, but I was appreciated in that movie and it has led to me signing another picture with the same director. It is again a Malayalam film and will come out in December.
So it is the start of even greater things to come?
The ultimate goal is to do more movies. I love the ones I have done so far and I am thinking of getting into Bollywood very soon. I need to gain a little more experience first, so I want to go to the Tamil industry after my next film to prepare more and then see where that takes me.
I need to do something of quality. I don’t just want to do an item number and disappear.
You don’t like item numbers?
It’s not that I don’t like item numbers. I wouldn’t mind doing them, but if you start off that way, you are stuck with that label and can’t move on. I don’t want to ever take a step that means I can’t grow as an actor. I want to do good work with actors I can learn from.
So, the million-dollar question therefore has to be, who would be the ideal leading man in your first Bollywood outing?
I would love to work with Salman Khan. I like the guy. I have interviewed him twice and, as a person, he is perfect. He is very humble and, he’s cute! – Kahleejnews