Your voice and your personality have the power to influence people around you. Rhea Resham Bari from Bhubaneshwar, Odisha is one such fashion model who is inspiring women in her state to follow their dreams. Coming from a conservative community Rhea created her path towards success. Being an influential personality, she has engaged herself in a lot of social initiatives. So, during the interview, Rhea shared her modeling journey.
Rhea always liked being in front of the camera and wanted to be in limelight. She started her modeling career when she was pursuing theatres at Christ University, Bengaluru. Her parents always supported her dreams and believed in her true potential.
“Initially, I wanted to become an actor but then I realized that you know when you like something. You figure while you are in the journey. Maybe not acting but modeling is something I really want to do. I started with Prasad Bidapa modeling agency. And then, it just happened I started doing shows and shows after that. I thought, getting into modeling would pave the path for the girls in my community. I wanted to do it for me initially, but there are some girls who come tell me that you inspire us and we aspire to be like you. This is something that motivates me to take it further.”
Rhea won the title of first runner-up at World Supermodel India in 2016. Sharing the challenges she faced, Rhea told us that the very first challenge was she did not know the basics of participating in a pageant. She was neither prepared nor had the skills to participate.
“For me, it was a big challenge as my studies were going and it was a bit difficult to convince my parents that I have to pursue it. I asked my parents that I can study later but maybe this is one chance you can give me. Because as much glamour that you see, it takes a lot of effort and you have to be the best in this field. You have to be number 1 you can not be number 2 to have that attention and to have all the eyes on you. So yes that was the challenge for me, but then it worked out.”
After participating in the pageant, people around her started asking Rhea about what is her next plan and how would she take it further. Also, back then people suggested she participate in reality shows. So she decided to take part in the famous modeling reality show India’s Next Top Model. Sharing her experience, Rhea says,
After rigorous rounds of interviewing and selection process. We were made to go for styling and hair makeup. They wanted me to look a little dark on camera. Then they made me ask questions also that do you have any issues with your skin tone. So I was like no not really I am very comfortable with my skin tone. They cut that part off, they did not telecast it. I thought maybe they have certain criteria.
All those things happen. Also, they wanted me to talk more about my background and from where I come, the whole tribal story they wanted to show on TV. Earlier I wanted to do these reality shows. Later I realized the fact that everything which is shown on TV is not true. Maybe the situation can be true but not everything.
When asked about how credible these reality shows are and do they give any future opportunities, Rhea told that they do not give any better opportunities later. But sometimes it is completely opposite. If a person wants fame then it is a good platform.
“I have seen some super successful models also and people who participate in the show getting good opportunities. But sometimes it is another way around also. Even in my case, I thought that it would give me that fame and reach but it did not. You have to have that spark in you and masala(spice) in you to make a mark.”
Rhea is always into social work and helps people around her. So when asked about what career option she would have chosen for herself apart from modeling, Rhea expressed that maybe she would have done law. Be in the government sector or maybe have become a politician.
As mentioned above Rhea is into helping people, so during the lockdown, she started an initiative named Voice of Tribals. She realized at the point that many people are there are suffering from a lot of issues and they need a voice to survive. Explaining more, Rhea says,
“Last year, in Odisha a girl was murdered and people were blaming the family. There was something related to Article 15(movie). That disturbed me, and I started raising my voice for it. I started creating awareness about it and we need to do something. I got a lot of support from many people and a lot of people got in touch.”
Rhea is a person who likes being connected to her roots and culture. Talking about the fashion trends in Odisha, Rhea told Odisha is very rich in handloom designs. Lately, she has been promoting it on her Instagram.
We shoot at these heritage sites as well so that they can also get attention as much as fashion. We need this attention and we are good at it so why not show it of to the world. Also, we have these temple which are so old and very rich handloom site and these weavers and artist. I absolutely love Odisha in terms of that.
Talking about facing rejections and criticism, Rhea mentioned that everything in the modeling industry is very sugar-coated. People really do not tell where you go wrong. They do not say things in a mean way.
“When you are new you are very open to criticism. I was training with a person who told me that I would not do well in this field of modeling. She was my mentor and for someone who has put in so much faith is telling you this, this somewhere demotivated me. But then my parents motivated me and told me that someone can’t tell you what you can do and what you don’t. So I took part in the pageant and surprisingly I was the runner-up. Sometimes this criticism helps you to be a better version of yourself.
I have faced rejections but never took it to my heart. I apply this in my daily life that if somehting does not work out I do not sit back and cry. So I try to improve myself and think that is something people should focus on.”
Rhea has been inspiring a lot of women out there to follow their dreams and hearts. While describing how she feels, Rhea said that she wants to thank all the women around her. She has learned to make a way for herself because of them.
“It really makes me feel happy that at least I am one percent close to people whom I look up to. Again I want to be like them, we always look up to people, and the women I am surrounded by are empowered. So I always use this line “Empowered Women, Empower Women”. I have seen that in my surroundings and that inspires me to do spmething for the young girls around me. It is not about pulling each other down, it is about holding hands and walking equally.”
When asked about what impact had modeling thrown on her life, Rhea says the fact I am giving this interview and people know me is all because of modeling.
“I do not think if I would have chosen any other career I would have had this exposure. I am very happy I chose it, I believed it in myself and so did my family. They gave me that support and help to follow my dreams. I could make a name for myself. Everybody I have worked with have been super humble and I am so much grateful to them. People were very welcoming and warm. That is something I love about modeling. Also, everything I have today is because of modeling.”