In the world of modelling in Pakistan, Mehreen Syed leads the A-list. But she is much more than just a pretty face who lights up the ramp as Sumeha Khalid discovers in a detailed interview. She is a devoted wife and a dedicated mother who loves to spend every spare minute of her time with family. Here are some excerpts…
Q: Who is the real Mehreen that nobody knows?
I’m more than the face of campaigns; I’m more than a model. I’m an entrepreneur, a CEO, a mother, a wife and a woman who is passionate about pursuing her dreams and goals, and helping other do the same.
Q: What was your childhood like?
My childhood was great. I grew up in a very supportive and nourishing environment. I am extremely close to my mother and my sisters. They are all such strong women; they inspired me back then and continue to do so today.
Q: Where have you spent your early years. Please share with us fond memories of your childhood.
I grew up in Lahore — a city I absolutely love and reside in currently. I remember the excitement of waiting for my mother to come home. She always made us feel so loved despite working full-time. I also remember my sisters and I, strutting around in our mother’s heels, and adoring ourselves in her jewelry, with lipstick all over our faces. We were like the three musketeers and always had a great time doing the craziest of things.
Q: What was it you always wanted to be, even as a child?
When I was a child I think I aspired to become my mother. As a child you think being your mother is also a career choice. However, I think a part of me always wanted to be part of the fashion industry in some way. My mother’s makeup and accessories always fascinated me and there was such glamour associated with the fashion world, I couldn’t help but be drawn to it.
Q: How and when did you decide to become a model?
I always had an inclination but my aspiration materialised when I met Ather and Shahzad while I was studying in Home Economics. He provided me with the opportunity and I just knew this is what I wanted to do.
Q: How did your parents react to your decision to be a media personality? Were they supportive or opposed to the idea?
My mother being a working woman herself has always supported me and my sisters in our career opportunities and endeavors. Despite certain criticism she stood by my side and always supported my dream of being a model. I think she has always been and will always be proud of what her daughters have accomplished.
Q: You started a finishing school for models also. How did that come about. Is it still operational?
Even though I have always had a very supportive network of friends who have helped me in my career and always pushed me forward, there have been bumps along the way. The model industry in Pakistan is still an emerging one and one that needs to be understood, appreciated, and enhanced. There are many models who are struggling, not because they don’t have the talent but because they don’t have the right platform to help them. IFAP is that platform to push modeling talent, so young aspiring models have equal opportunity in the industry.
Q: You never delved into acting? Why so? Any plans of doing that?
Actually I have delved into acting in the past few years. Besides music videos and specific commercials, I starred in Chambeili in 2013. I am planning to pursue acting as well; I really want to expand my acting career in Bollywood, and would love an opportunity to work with Aamir Khan.
Q: What are you working on currently.
Currently, I have a lot on my plate, most of which involves being a good parent for my daughter, and a balanced wife and career woman. On the work front, I am working on projects to expand programs in IFAP. Also being the spokesperson for L’Oreal Paris fills my calendar up with exciting new product launches and campaigns. I am also currently exploring some acting opportunities, however, with fashion weeks approaching rapidly I don’t know if I’ll have to manage all that.
Q: People in the showbiz industry generally do not want to get married when at the peak of their career. What made you take that step?
I think people forget the key is in balancing everything. If you can’t learn to balance then you can’t be successful long-term. I took the step because I knew my husband was the perfect fit to be my partner—when you’ve found something good why let it go, right? Secondly, there’s no point of being successful if you can’t share your success with a partner and a family.
Q: Are you still modelling and doing ramp shows? What do you like more?
I am still modeling and doing ramp shows. I don’t think I have a preference because they both excite me in different ways. In modeling I love playing in front of the camera lens to create images that capture a brand’s essence and create distinguishing elements for the designer or brand. Ramps are invigorating because the ambience is so captivating.
Q: What was it about your husband that made you decide in his favour?
He is an extremely compassionate and caring person, who is always there for those he loves. Furthermore, he is very focused and ambitious, and therefore, he can appreciate these same qualities in me. He has always been very supportive of my career and goals.
Q: Is your hubby supportive of your career? What is his contribution in your career?
As mentioned earlier, he has immense respect for my ambition and has never stood in the way; in fact, he is very encouraging. He always pushes me to achieve my goals even when I feel defeated. He can always lift my spirits andchange my perspective, which always helps me work through challenging situations.
Q: Who do you consider your backbone, your all-time support?
My family, specially my loving husband, mother in law and father in law.
Q: Has becoming a wife changed your perception as a model in any way?
It’s probably widened my perspective and enhanced my respect for working mothers as a whole. As a model it makes me want to work harder and perform better as I have a little angel who looks up to me now, as I once did to my mother.
Q: Your favourite model locally and internationally…
Cindy Crawford is a legend. Locally, I have immense praise and respect for Nadia Hussain, Iraj Manzoor and Vinnie.
Q: People you like working with?
My close friends: Shahzad Raza and HSY. We all established our careers at the same time and I feel we share such a strong bond that is definitely translated in our images and campaigns.
* You wish for… A tour across the world! I love travelling and I wouldn’t mind doing a few international brand campaigns.
* Future plans… For now, raising my daughter, continuing modeling, promoting IFAP, and expanding my acting portfolio. In addition to this, I am also starting my own NGO, iCare – Empowering women through education and skill development.
* What feature of your face do you like the most… I like my raised cheek bones
* Favourite and least favourite food… I love Japanese and French food.
* Favourite vacation spot… Europe – and more specifically Paris.