Breakout Beauty

Former Miss Bangladesh Jessia Islam is poised to make her big screen debut

By Zareen Nawar

The winner of the national beauty pageant Miss Bangladesh in the year 2017 is set to make her debut on the big screen with MR-9 directed by Hollywood’s Bangladeshi director Asif Akbar. The beautiful Jessia Islam will be playing the role of a Bangladesh Counter Intelligence Agency (BCI) spy in the film. She recently had a chat with MW Bangladesh over the phone when the crowned Miss Bangladesh 2017 talked about herself and her debut.

Did you want to become an actress growing up?

I always knew I wanted to be in the media industry for sure. I might not have specifically wanted a certain job, but I knew I wanted to be here. I wanted to look nice, act, and perform. So, I started as a model and then I continued my way into the industry.

How do you feel about modeling?

I like the grammar of knowing all of my angles in front of the camera. It makes me feel fearless and confident from every angle. Modeling compels me to feel pretty and bold, regardless of what people think. The confidence with which I get to present myself while modeling uplifts my self-confidence in myself and that is what I love most about the profession.

If you take a look back at your journey during Miss World Bangladesh today, then what would you say the national beauty pageant did for you?

I won the title when I just turned 18, so I was too young then. I was able to learn about the industry and workings of it around the world at large. It was the starting point of my whole career. It inspired me a lot too. I signed up for the pageant randomly, not believing that I would become the winner. When I however became the winner, it boosted my confidence by a lot and the win encouraged me to work harder and further on myself.

How did you find your way toward acting?

My journey toward acting started after I became Miss World Bangladesh and began modeling. At that point, people would suggest I try out for acting in telefilms, natoks, and so on. Plus, I used to watch a lot of movies which would also make me wonder if I could play the character that I was watching. I then ended up acting in a natok or two and I realized that I actually wanted to act but also that I needed more preparation. Next, I took my time to prepare and then got the opportunity to debut in MR-9.

Knowing what you know now, would you have done things differently if you could redo your career?

Since my childhood, I was certain about wanting to be a part of the industry so I didn’t have any other alternative thoughts or decisions to consider. I always had eyes for my goal. I also think everything has its own time. I never try to force things. I love to go with the flow and take whatever time has to offer me. For example, even though I participated in Miss World Bangladesh, I didn’t think I would actually win, like I mentioned earlier. Winning would have definitely been a dream come true at that time and it came true for me. On the whole, I just really believe everything has its own timing and that I should move accordingly.

Could you share your experience with filming and acting for your debut in MR-9?

MR-9 is the first joint venture between Hollywood and Bangladesh, it includes different actors of other nationalities too. I am playing a character called Agent Rupa and all of us took preparations by attending acting classes for two years. I feel blessed because I got to take my first step or debut in such a big movie.

As an actor, I tried to make the most of the training we received and I am still continuing my training as an actor because learning can never stop and I have to grow more in the field.

What kind of genres would you like to act in?

I don’t have any specific preference here yet because as an actor I just want to perform as long as a script makes me feel passionate about it. I want to perform very well in front of the camera, despite any form specification.

Do you have any specific way through which you pick or plan on choosing work?

I am open to anything.

Is there a dream role you would love to play one day?

The character and the script I’m offered needs to feel fun for me while I play the part. If a role I play eventually becomes memorable for the audience, then that would be ideal for me.

According to your experience so far, what does it take to become a good actor?

I think it has to do with the talent of showcasing any story as a whole while making sure that the audience believes in the actor’s credibility as the character.

What is next for you?

I will be focusing on other movies for sure. I haven’t announced anything yet but I’m working on it.

As an artist who and what inspires you?

I really get inspired by the new variation of series that Netflix comes up with comprising of the likes of Wednesday, and Stranger Things. I also like how OTT platforms including the Bangladeshi ones allow audiences access to not only new stories but they are creating new work opportunities for new and existing artists, be it in front of the camera or behind it.

Any Angelina Jolie movie is also my go-to for inspiration. Stories and characters that are similar to the movie Mr & Mrs Smith are interesting to me.

I also like Priyanka Chopra and Margot Robbie as artists.

You have millions of followers across your social media platforms, do you worry at all about what you should or should not be uploading? How do you handle that aspect of your life?

Sometimes when I have to deal with paid posts, I do have to think a bit about how I want to post them since I have to post those anyway but other than that I don’t have to think all that much about uploading my personal posts. Like everyone else, I simply express myself on social media. I just want to be myself.

Lastly, do you have any words of advice for those who might be interested in entering the modeling world or even the acting world?

In terms of modeling, there are a lot of grooming schools so if someone wants to be a model, they should begin by working on themselves through grooming with the proper focus of course.

In the case of acting, they could try to find the kind of scripts they want to work on by strictly sticking to their goals and they can always learn acting from the acting schools to develop necessary skills.

Photographer: Adnan Rahman

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