Born in India, raised in Nigeria & South Africa, and a lawful former resident of Los Angeles, California, for six years – Ayushi Chhabra is an internationally renowned actor and performing artist, with a highly acclaimed list of accolades. In 2020, Chhabra debuted on American Television, as the alien character ‘PEL’ on CBS’s most sought-after series – ‘STAR TREK: PICARD’. The same year, Chhabra also landed back-to-back National Commercial Campaigns for U.S. Census 2020 & TOYOTA USA – both were broadcast on TV across the United States, and on online platforms with an upwards of over 5 million views (online platforms alone – exponentially higher on TV). In addition to that, Chhabra was also awarded ‘Best Leading Performance’ for her role as ‘Parnita’ in her 2020 film, ‘Unborn’, by Uptown Women’s Film Festival of New York. Chhabra extensive resume of acting, also includes 50 national and international commercials, over the past five years, for A-list brands like Google, Motorola, Samsung, GAP, Emirates, Hyatt, State Farm, Vitamix, Snapchat, Facebook, Target, Walmart, Apple and many more.
Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.
I am an extremely goal oriented, dedicated and disciplined person & performer. I am hyper aware of my roots and the kind of hard work it has taken me to get to where I am, and so I do not take any opportunities for granted. I graduated in Broadcast Journalism from Rhodes in 2011, after which, I ventured out of my comfort zone and went halfway across the world to Los Angeles, to study acting. Destiny aligned with my determination to pursue my dream, and I ended up moving there officially in 2015. Since then, I have hustled day & night, worked on every job no matter how big or small and I am finally scratching the surface of my dreams.
In 2020 you made your American Television debut, as the alien character “PEL” on CBS’s TV series – ‘STAR TREK: PICARD’, alongside Sir Patrick Stewart and Allison Pill. Your role required many hours of intense hair and make-up to transform you into the character of a pregnant Romulan (alien). What was that experience like?
It was one for the books! My debut would have been on a show called Splitting Up Together, but I was cut out of the final edit. I was devastated but you know what they say, everything happens for a reason. I guess, God had bigger plans. A year later, I was on set for Star Trek: Picard, transformed as a pregnant alien, working with the legendary Jonathan Frakes and learning from veterans in the arts. It is an experience I will never forget.
We would love to hear more about life in Los Angeles and the realities of making it in Hollywood.
I would say life in LA is a lot like what you see in the movie LA LA LAND. It is a city built on dreams, hopes, aspirations AND lots of sweat and tears! It is a place where miracles can happen, but nothing is handed to you for free. I used to wake up at 4.45 am every morning to work out, meditate, catch up with my family in SA over the phone, prep my lines for auditions, then head to my day job at 8 am, with everything for my auditions packed in my car. I would hop in and out of my office, change in the car, go to my auditions, come back to work. Finish a long day at work, grab a quick bite and then head over to acting class which often ended at midnight. This is the reality of making it in Hollywood.
What are your top Make-Up and Beauty tips for getting camera-ready?
Invest time in finding and getting to know your skin so that you know the kind of make-up you need. For example, I have combination skin, with texture (from acne scars) so I need a foundation that has good coverage, lasts long but also something that is non-comedogenic. So, find out what your skin type is. For “camera-ready”, it is essential to have a good finishing powder on hand, otherwise your face can look very shiny on camera. Also, adding facial depth with some light contouring really helps, as the camera always adds 10 pounds!
In your own words, “A full-time job, auditions no matter how big or small, print, commercials, industrials, film, TV, theater, background, extra work, brand ambassador work, giving out samples at trade shows, paid audience gigs, participating in games shows – I HAVE DONE IT ALL. I know what a struggle it is for an immigrant to get a visa to live and work in the United States and I never take that for granted”. Do you have any tips for aspiring actors on how to land an audition for a movie or TV role?
Yes, I’d say find a good acting coach, master the skill and do some work for free at first, just to build a resume. Get good headshots, find an agent, go to every audition and do your best! Be good to people – this industry is all about networking so whether it is a casting assistant or a PA on set, don’t have an attitude and stay focused.
As a successful independent Indian actor, how do you cope with the social pressures and stigma related to your profession?
It’s hard, not everyone will understand you and you will get exhausted trying to explain yourself to the ‘society’ so in my opinion, the best thing to do is to tune all the noise out, stay laser focused on your goals, and enjoy what you do. I deal with it by letting people say whatever they want and by dedicating all my energy to what I love. I have no time to entertain anything else.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?
A young, aspiring actor from another country, with a burning desire to work and hopeful innocent eyes and lots of passion in her belly.
What is it that you are passionate about?
I am passionate about making others realize their passions and encouraging them to go after their greatest desires, with faith and determination. I love seeing people go after their goals and find their purpose – something that not only serves them but also uplifts the community around them.
Who or What has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My parents, my friends, the women in my life who have shown me what it means to be strong and vulnerable at the same time. They’ve taught me resilience, the power of believing in myself and my essence, they’ve inspired me to see beyond what is and strive for what could be. They are all my superheroes.
What is your personal “motto”?
Unwavering Faith, extraordinary effort and a heart full of gratitude can make anything happen. ANYTHING.
What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?
My advice would be to figure out what your vision is…exactly. Write it down and have an intense amount of conviction that you can do this (BECAUSE YOU CAN). And then take the first step towards it. If you work at it every single day, consistently, it will happen. Do not lose sight of your purpose, no matter what knocks you down. You go this, sis! We got this!
Who or what is your inspiration and why?
The strong empowering and empowered women around me, who never give up, no matter what life throws at them. I am inspired by my mother, my girlfriends, my cousin sisters, my women co-workers who work so hard at their jobs and still go home and take care of their families, and NEVER STOP. They have my heart.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To stop and smell the roses. It is good to be driven and passionate but don’t let it consume you. Every now and then, let it all go and just be. Lie on the grass, look at the sky, just be.
Your favourite daily affirmation:
I AM LOVED AND PROTECTED BY THE UNIVERSE.
Your favourite quote:
“If something stands between you and your success, MOVE IT. Never ever be denied” ~The Rock
Which book are you reading now?
The one I am writing 🙂
Which book can you read over and over again?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
What would you say is your secret to success?
Resilience. I never ever give up.
One piece of (general) advice that you’d like to share:
Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes before jumping to a conclusion about them.
Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey?
I am grateful for this platform. Thank you for connecting me to so many wonderful women out there.
Submitted by: Clayton Morar Media