DUBAI: Aleeze Nasser – a graduate in acting from New York Film Academy (Los Angeles) and the newest entry into Pakistan’s film industry is one of the few intellectually sound actors in Pakistan. Coming from a very educated and diverse cultural background, Aleeze aims to add value to Pakistani cinema through her talent. The News Tribe got in touch with the young and energetic actress in Dubai and here is what she has to say.
The News Tribe: Why don’t you introduce yourself to our visitors? How did you end up becoming an actor?
Aleeze Nasser: They say preparation meets opportunity. I am a firm believer of the fact that there are no coincidences and everything happens for a reason. I grew up in Dubai in a household where the culture was to appreciate art and enjoy books and music (and lots of attention to food). As far back as I remember, I was a natural in dancing on all sorts of music, loved writing for school competitions, and giving speeches on the stage – it was quite obvious where my passion was!
I did my High School in Dubai and then moved to the United States for further studies. I got myself a business degree first and then went on to graduate in acting from New York Film Academy (Los Angeles). This way we were all a happy family. My parents wanted me to have something solid as a backup in case my passion remained just that (laughs!). It was my mother’s efforts from very early on to encourage my interest in dancing and so she enrolled me first for ballet like all little girls do, and then of course my love for Jazz, Salsa, and Indian dance made me go for professional training in various schools during summer breaks.
After completing my degree from New York Film Academy, I joined the Dubai Film Commission which luckily started at the right time for me. Prior to this there was no such thing in Dubai and now we are hosting International Film Festivals every year.
I met Doc (Hassan Waqas Rana) through one of my professors in Dubai, and then of course destiny had its own plans. I knew my direction but never knew that I would be a part of Pakistani Film fraternity (as to my knowledge it hardly existed.) I was offered a role in Yalghaar and it sure was fascinating because of the character that was so beautifully written by Doc.
Thanks to Doc I have found a whole new world of people to get to know all over again, for when growing up we used to visit Pakistan often but then there was a very long gap and now it’s like reintroducing myself to the country, and I am enjoying every bit of it.
The News Tribe: What are some of the challenges new Pakistani actors face at the beginning of their career? Is it a career path that you would recommend?
Aleeze Nasser: Honestly, I haven’t had many, so I feel blessed. If one knows their craft well then finding their space in the industry is relatively smooth, but of course this does not mean it’s a smooth ride (it never is in any field of work.) You have to be ready to overcome hurdles and challenges. In my case, I just needed to understand the psych of the people, how they work, the modus operandi so to speak. When I do set my mind on a goal, no challenge is big enough and that’s how I see things in life in general – I am an optimist!
A career in acting is for someone who loves this craft, has patience, and is madly passionate about it – yes, I would recommend it to such a person for sure.
The News Tribe: What kind of training did you go through to become an actor?
Aleeze Nasser: First it’s the training of your mind, you need to know what you want to do (set a clear vision), and then you prepare yourself with all the possible tools. At the New York Film Academy, the training begins with understanding and studying the basics of filmmaking before you actually study acting. This provides a solid base – the understanding of how everything works in sync helps one master the art of acting.
Besides the theory, I believe it is most helpful to meet with the best in the trade, the veteran actors themselves – their lectures and constant visits for workshops provides tips and practical examples that no books can teach. They give you inspiration and the wealth of knowledge that is priceless.
I brushed on my acting by doing short films for my fellow students in various languages, as I speak four fluently. I also then went on to continue my love of dance which I think is a language on its own.
The News Tribe: As a trained actor, what skills do you believe are necessary for acting? Do you think Pakistani actors should go through professional training?
Aleeze Nasser: Discipline, commitment, passion and respect are key for success. It is of utmost importance that one has these three aspects imbibed and ingrained, because yes you might make an amazing actor, but without the above (and this goes for most professions according to me) you are not a wholesome person leave alone an actor.
Professional training in any field gives you an edge as you can imagine, although there is a lot of natural talent I see in the arts industry. I guess workshops and training institutes can only enhance what already exists.
The News Tribe: What determines your interest in a role? What made you accept roles in Yalghaar and Waar II?
Aleeze Nasser: A role must touch the emotional chord of the audience in some way, it should be gripping. The role in Yalghaar was attractive in the way it was narrated to me – the beautiful relationship this girl Fareeha has with her husband (played by Adnan Siddiqui), her experiences for being married to a Lieutenant and the insight and deep appreciation for the entire army and their families is what was very moving for me. The role in Waar II however, is going to be a very different one from that of Yalghaar, and that’s how much I would like to say as of now.
The News Tribe: How do you prepare yourself for a shoot? What makes you bring the right amount of realism and emotion to a scene?
Aleeze Nasser: Besides empathy towards characters, some research always helps. Working on the body language, physical aspects all adds up to bringing the character as close to reality as possible. I was lucky to get a chance to interact with some of the wives of soldiers during shoots for Yalghaar. Let me say this though, that each character requires a different approach – there is no one single formula or technique that you can say works in all situations!
The News Tribe: How do you rate the entertainment industry of Pakistan in terms of intellect, work ethics and professionalism?
Aleeze Nasser: Pakistan is overflowing with richness in culture and talent – I am just beginning to know people in and around the fraternity. I can already say that we have an abundance of talent and intellect that can project our industry in the International community of cinema with dignity and respect.
As for the ethics there obviously is a wide range that exists in any profession and classes of people in any country – one just has to be wise and conduct accordingly. I am not the one who likes to preach or be on a mission. Pakistan’s ‘new age’ cinema has given everyone an amazing confidence in the industry and all production houses, old and new alike, are geared up to revive this industry with a new conviction.
When it comes to ethics and professionalism, let me just say this, that no matter where one works you are faced with lack of it in varying degrees – how you maneuver yourself depends a lot on you and your situation. I am very blessed that I have mostly, with very few exceptions, come across the right people thus far and hope to continue attracting the same. They are all well placed, educated and professional people in their field of work and I have enjoyed knowing them well.
The News Tribe: Do you think the right mix of people are part of Pakistan’s showbiz industry, or more intellectual and educated people need to step in?
Aleeze Nasser: Oh absolutely! Although you can never have enough of quality people with intellect and progressive outlook. It’s a good time for Pakistan’s Film Industry to be on its way to becoming known, as apart from the recognition and respect it can get internationally. It also acts as a very strong medium to break away and shatter the prejudices people have of Pakistan around the world.
Media plays a great role in projection of a country on an international level and by creating such a platform and making it strong the reach will be far, wide, and impactful. Variety of people making movies is a healthy thing – it covers all different genres for all sectors of the population. One can choose where and what they would like to be. Having said that, gradually of course we need to improve and raise the standard of the audience at a national level.
The News Tribe: What is our industry’s greatest challenge today? Do you think its progressing in the right direction?
Aleeze Nasser: Right direction for sure and that’s what is encouraging for people like myself. It is definitely promising as I see great movies being made where you have pure entertainment like Yeh Jawani Phir Nahi Aani and total contrast to it is a movie like Moor, which has amazing content with powerful performances. The movie makers are all out to give it their best, which is simply exhilarating!
The News Tribe: As an international actor, do you have plans to represent Pakistan in Hollywood or Bollywood in the future?
Aleeze Nasser: I usually do not plan that long in advance as I like to be excited about how life unfolds – of course choices have to be right. I do have dreams and aspirations that I keep my focus on achieving. It would be an absolute honor to represent Pakistan in other film industries for sure, but it would give me greater pride and satisfaction to see our film industry reach a stage where the others find it a career path or step up to work with Pakistan – could be a bit far-fetched for now but hey we must dream big right!
The News Tribe: Where do you see yourself 5 to 10 years from now?
Aleeze Nasser: Oh there is no telling! Arthur Rubinstein said “If you love life, life will love you back” and I certainly am blessed to be innately born with that love and appreciation for life. I want to discover life and enjoy the surprises on the way. It would be great though if I can surround myself with a team or a group of people who share my vision so that we can do some great work together for the industry in general. Other than following my passion of acting, I have other plans too which are going to be unfolded in phases.
The News Tribe: What change do you think you can bring to Pakistani films and dramas through your talent?
Aleeze Nasser: Our dramas are well appreciated, and I believe they are already very popular around the globe. However, most of the people watching them are senior citizens. Of course, there are exceptions where a few dramas are watched by the younger lot too. The pace of life is changing and it would be good to see that is reflected in Pakistani dramas too. I have seen some recent ones that have made a change in style, so it’s already happening!
As an actor you can just go do your job and do it par excellence. However, you are still just one component of the entire project. Having said that, when working with great minds you have the advantage of contributing your ideas and you know they will be well received.