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An Interview with Model Virali Modi

By IM Staff  28/2/16

Mumbai based model and actress Virali Modi
It all started for Virali when at the age of 14 she approached a model in a mall, who was promoting a modeling school. Modeling and acting became a passion of Virali’s and she was perusing this dream when in 2006 she contracted a life threatening infection due of which she has been on a wheelchair since. Now on the road to recovery she continues to work to fulfill her aspiration of doing quality work as a model and as an actress. Virali Modi is also a motivational speaker and a writer. Following is our interview with the gorgeous Mumbai based model Virali Modi.

IM: Can you tell us a bit about when you got interested in modeling and what influenced you?
I clearly remember when I was 14 years old, I was living in The United States and I walked by this very tall and beautiful woman in the mall. She was endorsing a modeling and acting school called Barbizon and she motioned for me to come over. She started talking to me and told me that I had what it takes to be a model. I was going through puberty and I wasn't really that good looking, in my own opinion. She told me I was beautiful and at that moment, my confidence spiked. I signed up for Barbizon and I instantly fell in love with the idea of modeling and acting as a career during my first class. Ever since then, I've always wanted to be a model.

IM: How would you define your personal style?
My personal style I'd say is classic and chic with a touch of sparkle. I don't wear many patterns, but I like solid colors. I like to mix and match with neutrals and brights to go for a statement. I like wearing beads and/or sequins in minimal areas for a sparkly touch. I'm all about comfort though, being on a wheelchair means that I really can't wear clothes that are a bit risqué in public because of potential wardrobe malfunctions.

IM: Are there any actors or models that you look up to?
Virali: In terms of acting - Irrfan Khan is my role model. I want to start acting and I view myself acting in movies that make a statement, because I feel we need more movies like that than baseless love stories.

 In terms of fashion - Jacqueline Fernandez is definitely my go to actress/model when it comes to fashion. I had the lovely opportunity of meeting her while she was shooting for an ad in The Body Shop in Malad, Mumbai. She's beautiful, tall, her makeup was on point, and her outfit was to die for.
mumbai based actress and model Virali Modi
IM: What’s your favorite thing about being a model?
Virali: Getting my makeup done has to be one of my most favorite things for sure. I love the process and it's so peaceful. I hate taking it off though!

IM: How would you define the word “Beauty”?
Virali: Beauty is beauty despite your age, weight, height, sexual preference, caste, race, and/or disability. Everyone is beautiful and there are no norms for beauty. Beauty is only skin deep though, it doesn't matter how pretty and gorgeous you are from the outside, if you aren't a compassionate, forgiving, and a loving soul – your looks don't matter.

IM: Do you think that there is an adequate representation of people with
disabilities in the Indian media?

Virali: No, there isn't. We see such beautiful movies like Black, Margarita with a Straw, and Guzarish having actors acting as someone with a disability. I understand that these mainstream actors are needed to promote the movie, but I really feel that people with actual disabilities should be acting in them. Even in the world of modeling, I don't know of any models that have a disability modeling in India. It's absurd, in my opinion.

IM: Have you faced any discrimination in the industry?
Virali: Of course I have. I've faced it because of my disability. Whenever I see an update about a company wanting models, I go ahead and send my portfolio across and I make sure to let them know that I'm on a wheelchair. I almost always get a reply back, but the reply contains sympathy. They ask me how I became wheelchair bound and suggest treatment options, but they'll never talk about the task at hand. After a short conversation they'll tell me that I can't act and/or model because I'm not walking. Sure, I can understand that, but all I want is a chance to show that I do have talent and I can probably act and/or model so much better than some other actresses and models. This isn't over confidence, it's just a plea to get a chance, because I do deserve it.

IM: What do you find is the biggest issue facing professionals with disabilities?
Virali: The awareness, I think most people correlate disability with not being able to do anything which is extremely wrong. The word disability is wrong in itself - it's a negative word, and it leads other people to give you sympathy rather than a fighting fair chance. It's a stereotype and a generalization which needs to stop. I think with proper understanding that one who is different, doesn't mean that they're limited in talent, in intelligence, and in maturity, it will give us a fighting chance to show that we aren't limited.

 Along with that accessibility isn't an unknown issue. Most places aren't accessible production houses, film sets, and most offices of influential people in the industry. The only solution in my mind is acceptance, accept that people whom are physically challenged are capable of performing as an able-bodied actor. That's when people like me, who are fighting for their chance as a model or actresses, will be given a chance.

IM: What does being a role model mean to you?
Virali: It means to be a positive support system for someone, even if you don't know them personally. Becoming a widely known person in the modeling/acting industry, while on a wheelchair will be inspirational to so many people. People need to know that they shouldn't ever give up on their dreams, and a role model does exactly that. They enforce and empower you and your dreams, they knowingly and unknowingly show you the way, and they help you become your best self.

IM: What would you say is your dream project?
Virali: This extremely difficult  but I've always told my friends and family that if I ever become an actress (which I will - I'm going to keep fighting for my chance) I want to be Irrfan Khan in a woman's body. So according to that wish, my dream project would to work alongside of Mr. Irrfan Khan. There's also another dream - I'd love to "walk" the ramp wearing one of Manish Malhotra's creations as his show stopper. That would definitely be a dream comes true.

Virali modi is a fashion model and actress based out of Mumbai, India
Beautiful model and actress Virali Modi
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