Actor Syra Yousuf, who made her debut in the world of acting through her role as Nazia in the hit serial Mera Naseeb, is all set to grace the small screen once again in her most recent venture, Sinf e Aahan. The starlet has had a long career, starting off with TVCs, eventually moving to the role of VJ on MTV during the channel’s heyday, and eventually settling into the world of acting in film and TV. Syra recently sat down for an interview with a local publication, shedding light on her career trajectory, dealing with intrusions in her personal life by the media, as well as the way motherhood had changed her perspective when it comes to work.
Speaking about her role in Sinf e Aahan, in which she plays a soldier from a Christian background, the actor shared her thoughts on paying a character from a religious minority. She shared, “I was very happy. I said that I would love to represent our minorities. It’s a brilliant idea and Umera Ahmed has written it so well that nothing feels like it is being imposed. It’s all very subtle.”
The actor continued, “Just because you’re Christian doesn’t mean there has to be something different about you. So, I don’t think I had to research the character as such, but I feel that it’s important to keep in mind how a minority would feel in certain situations, that was very important for me. So, I tried to work on that.”
Syra shared that as a child, she did not dream of becoming an actor, with the profession coming to her very much by chance. Explaining how she had always been a fairly introverted child, she elaborated on the beginning of her career, “I started with commercials, with the first one coming to me by chance, and I kept wondering how I was going to do it. I was one of those people who look here and there when they’re being photographed because I just couldn’t look into the red light. I think some things you don’t really know whether you’ll be able to until you actually end up doing them.”
On her jump into the world of VJing, Syra explained that she was scouted by producer Nina Kashif, who worked at MTV at the time. With Nina’s eventual shift to the world of drama production came Syra’s first job as a TV actor. “Nina ended up transferring to Hum TV,” shared the Chalay Thay Saath actor, adding, “She offered me a different drama at first, and I wasn’t sure how I could do it because it was very intense. Afterwards, when she offered me Mera Naseeb, I felt like could relate with my character Nazia. By relate, I mean that if I went on set for the first time, I would be very timid, and that’s what Nazia was. So, it helped. My shyness would blend in with my character’s.”
Speaking about how motherhood changed her perspective on work, Syra, who has a seven-year-old daughter named Nooreh, shared, “When I became a mother, that’s when I had to constantly choose. I used to be selective about my work, but once you become a mother you can’t stop thinking about your child and what makes them comfortable or uncomfortable. So, I used to think about the dynamics of different projects a lot. How much time I would get with Nooreh, how it would affect her.”
She added further, “So, this made me cancel out a lot of things, and when that struggle came into play, that’s when I realised how much I really enjoy the process of acting and bringing the characters to life.”
When asked how Syra deals with being a single mother following her separation from her former husband Shahroz Sabzwari, the actor shared that she does not feel like a single mother due to the fact that the two co-parent their daughter. “I don’t think much has changed for me [after divorce] because my family is still just as supportive. Shahroz and I make sure that we co-parent Nooreh,” she explained.
Syra continued, “There really isn’t an absence of the other parent. He’s very much involved and so are his parents. So, I don’t feel the challenges of being a single mother, but I do feel the challenges of being a mother. Like, managing your time between work and family, and these are your child’s growing years. If you are absent at this stage, your child will start to feel abandoned, so that’s a choice I have to make.”
On how her personal life was sensationalised across the board, with her divorce being highlighted in the media repeatedly, Syra shared, “I don’t feel betrayed because I didn’t expect much. But I do find it very insensitive because where you are recycling a story and making connections again and again for the sake of likes and numbers, it’s very important for you to understand that someone else is actually living through what you are constantly talking about.”
She elaborated further, “For me, it was my life in real-time, and I was experiencing it already, and that kind of bombardment from the industry, I feel like it was insensitive. Personal lives should stay personal, and if you do end up finding something out from some source, there’s a way to put it out there.”
Speaking about how, initially, the media storm made her feel vulnerable, Syra added, “I felt very exposed. I just kept wondering when people would stop talking about it so that I could process it on my own.” However, the actor explained how she found light at the end of the tunnel, sharing, “I feel like in shutting out the outside world, I had the opportunity to go inwards. So, sometimes uncomfortable situations can actually help you end up in a better place.”