Alfez Khaishagi. A heartwarming conversation with the model and actor who completed his formal education before carving a niche on the world map. Although he's insanely handsome, his simmering determination, hard work and positivity is worthy of hyperbole.
''Hailing from a family that had no ties with modelling or the entertainment industry, it has been quite a journey. I was born in Indore and then lived in Dubai; honestly speaking, the entire concept of home is quite blurry for me… after living in more than eight countries and twelve cities across the world, home has become a more internalised concept for me rather than a place.
I started modelling at 18 so I was just a college student before I entered the shiny world of modelling… it's been an epic ride so far and I wouldn't change it for anything! That said, modelling was never a plan or a career path I had ever thought about; quite honestly I had never met a model before I became one! It all started with the form of a beauty pageant which at that time meant the world to me. I filled it so I could skip an exam and my parents would not force me to keep my head in the books! I got called for an open audition and ended up winning the zonal over thousands of other contestants and then I travelled to Mumbai for the finale. I had never been to Mumbai before this and was really excited. I finally won the pageant and went back to complete my education. But something inside me had changed; for the first time I felt I belonged somewhere. I was never interested in the typical engineering and medical streams most people follow by default and am grateful to my family for respecting my decision and supporting me when I needed it the most. I remember my father saying 'YOLO you only live once' before it became a famous slang! While I could have chosen to further my education at top universities I chose to do what made me happy and where my passion lies and I will always be thankful to my family for it!
Who was my mentor? This is a story very, very close to my heart. After I returned from Bombay, I had plans to pursue modeling but I didn't know where to go or what to do. I remember I was preparing for my board exams and one fine day I got an e-mail from an agency, which no longer exists, but back then it was doing really well. The manager was Vishal Bhadra, who tragically passed away, would always be in my prayers; at that time, I confided in him about everything I was up to; he had seen my photographs on Facebook and advised me on everything I needed to know in order to become a model. He also spoke to my family to ensure they knew I was in safe hands! After my exams, I moved to Mumbai with my mother and Vishal got my lookbook made. Following that, I joined Anupam Kher's 'Actor Prepares' to learn acting and dancing. Vishal then signed me with his agency, Zing Talents, and that's how it all began.
I feel as a model it's important to fit the industry standard but maintain your individuality. As for me, I have always had a larger than life view towards everything I do. I don't believe in limits or boundaries. I don't believe we have to conform to anything because of where you come from! As long as you believe you can do it, you can. I'm my biggest supporter and because of this quality I have worked in the US, Italy, South Africa, China and other countries and I hope to continue this as long as I can serve as a good model. Thanks to my parents I'm blessed with good genetics — the blue eyes, of course, helps!! I work hard on myself though. I workout six days a week and follow a strict diet. I drink a lot of water and stick to fun cardio like Zumba and spinning rather than running on a treadmill! Of course a male model needs a certain level of masculinity and for that I do weight training and consume all the required supplements and vitamins!!
Having modelled now for over four years across the world, I've met amazing people and have great memories, but you never forget your first big shoot right? For me, it was early in my career — a week after I got my portfolio made I was selected for a television commercial for Philips Lightning and I can never forget how happy and nervous I was!! The director, Shakun Batra, had recently directed a film starring Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan and I remember being clueless the moment I entered the set. I had no idea what to do; the other models were experienced and helped me through the process… Another signifiant moment was when I walked for London Fashion Week and the show runner screamed my name saying 'Alfez! Go go go' and I walked out on the ramp with a broken toenail because of the shoes they made me wear!! It's funny when I think about it now! Reminiscing about my journey, I have always had that zeal to achieve success in whatever I do. I try not to get complacent at work; as soon as I feel comfortable in a professional situation, I tend to feel I should be doing more. And I have always wanted to be an entertainer so I'm always looking to expand my repertoire. For now I’m happy in the space I am in; also the transition to acting is fun and I'm doing it one day at a time!!
Currently I’m shooting for an online streaming platform in New York which I really can't disclose much about. The trailer for my television series is about to be released soon too so I'm excited about that. Other than this, I am flying to Europe to participate in Euro Fashion Tour next month so yeah life's been kind. Do I have a back up plan? Fortunately I have never had the chance to think about it. I have always been focused on work and have had the clarity on how to move forward. I stay true to my craft and work genuinely toward it and touchwood the results have always been positive. I believe that as long as you're dedicated and hardworking you can do well in any field.
Lastly, I would love to share some advice for male models entering the industry because I know what a huge difference the correct advice made to my career. I believe everyone has a different story and one has to make it their own way; every time I see new talent I tell them to be authentic to themselves; it never goes out of style! As a model it's very important to know your field of interest and things you're good at be it commercial, high fashion or fitness. You need to take care of your looks because at the end of the day it's a beauty-based industry; good model management, hard work and dedication and no one can stop you! Also you need to learn to take rejection gracefully and positively — don't be too serious; make it fun.''
— JASMEEN DUGAL