Lisa Ray radiates a warmth which is the sum of everything that she has gone through. The story of her life is one of inspiration and she is only willing to narrate it over and over again.
It was in the 90s - when she was 16 â€“ that she graced the cover of a fashion magazine. As history would have it, there was no looking back after that.
Many ad campaigns and significant parts in movies ('Bollywood, Hollywood, 'Water', 'I Can't Think Straight', 'The World Unseen') followed. In her own words, she becoming an actor was a 'happy accident'.
Destiny, however, had a different plan when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Not one to budge, Lisa spoke about it on public arenas but never for a moment thought she would succumb to it. She calls herself a cancer graduate but is politely reluctant to bear the mantle of any other label.
The Toronto-born actor was in the city recently to launch the 'I Can Sir' campaign at Manipal Hospitals ahead of 'World Cancer Day' and in a candid chat with Anupama Ramakrishnan, looks back with pride and confidence at her life, one that is all about reinstating Carpe Diem.
The energy that you exude, in spite of all that you have gone through -- where does that come from?
I don't know (laughs). It's just life, I guess. I am a happy person and full of gratitude.
You have a multitude of labels - actor, model, TV show presenter, writer - which one do you think best describes you?
I hate labels basically. I'm, well, just me. Honesty, I don't think I would use any of those labels. I am just another human being, a cancer graduate.
You have given the word 'cancer survivor' a positive tone by always calling yourself a cancer graduate. How did that come about?
Having cancer has been a learning experience. I think you have heard a lot of cancer survivors say that it is a huge lesson for them. Life never goes back to what it was before. You are kind of a university that you hope you graduate from but you come out different and that why I call it cancer graduation.
You are a dedicated practitioner of yoga and meditation, did this come about after you were diagnosed?
I learnt yoga and meditation before I was diagnosed but not when I was a child.
You seem to love outdoors and have a close bonding with nature. Would you like to tell us about your favourite retreat?
That's a tough one to answer, a really tough one. I've been a nomad since a young age. I was 16 when I started working and have been on the go since. I do love nature at this point of my life. I prefer to be in the company of nature rather than in big cities and I've lived in a lot of big cities. I think nature is healing. I would actually advice everyone to carve out some time to be in a natural environment and turn off your phones and power down. We get everything we need from nature.
Recently, some incredible poems of yours came out...Tell us more about this side of yours, perhaps relatively unknown...
Oh yes! (beams) I've been writing for years, I'm hoping to spend more time writing. I'm finishing my book finally this year and then I'll have more time, hopefully to write. Poetry is something that I have been writing for a long time and I hope to put them together in a book after my memoir comes out.