She never had an intention of getting into the field of acting. Giving a priority to education whilst engaging in various school activities it was ever her ambition to follow a very professional academic career. However fate intervened. One day, at the age of 15 while at a function in ‘Taj-Samudra Hotel’ with her mother a photographer spotted this beautiful young lady, approached her and inquired if she liked to model for the cover of a magazine. And when she asked her mother for permission on this matter she initially refused. But two years later this very same photographer met her again and offered her the chance once again, and in this occasion she agreed to be in the cover of the ‘Mirror’ Magazine. As soon as this got published, an advertising agency who identified her beauty, contacted her and asked her to take part in a screen test for an advertisement. From there she was selected for a ‘Sunlight’ TV commercial for the first time. She was reluctant to do it in the first place but her mom convinced her that she should give it a shot and see how it goes. Thus was the birth of Kishani Alanki Perera’s career.
It was at around 7.40pm in the evening and I was prepared to interview her at her residence in Colombo. She appeared at her doorstep, dressed in a gorgeous pink dress and she greeted me in a very charming way, portraying that she has all that perfect essence of a down to earth actress. Her eyes sparkled, it reminded me of the night sky with its stars shining bright. When she smiles, you could see the shining diamonds within her soul. Even though she was swamped with a busy schedule, she did not keep me waiting, and gave her full attention towards this interview in a gracious manner. Without further-a-do I got into the point of shooting my questions at her.
Heshan: Tell us about the first drama, that you acted in?
“Dehadak Aadaren” was my first drama that was directed by Chamara Jayaweera and I was actually introduced to the field by Viraj Weliwatta. Before taking part in this drama, I have been in like 30 TV commercials but I have never considered getting into acting. One of my friends I met at Sirasa TV persuaded me to take part in drama. I was really nervous because I didn’t know anything about acting. I asked him for a very small character but they took me as a main character. This was 7 years back. That’s how I got started in acting.
Heshan: Where do you draw your inspirations from?
If I watch something and if I find it touching or moving I’ll be inspired with it. If there is one acting style I like, it would be of ‘Deepika Padukone’. I think she is a perfect model woman who also fits into any character. She is very subtle with her emotions and she acts very naturally. I draw a lot of inspiration from her.
Heshan: How do you differentiate yourself from other actresses? What is unique in you?
I recently did an interview for the Sunday Leader and when I told them my story they made the article headline as “Kishani’s Destiny”. So I felt that I never pursued it. I never dreamt of being an actress. I was drawn to it, more like it came to me and I never went behind it for the fame. What makes me different? I think everyone is different, I can’t say what makes me different,and maybe someone else who knows me can answer to that.
Heshan: What is acting to you? How does it make an impact in your life?
Well when you act, you are not yourself, you have to forget yourself and forget what’s going on within you and outside you and get into a character which is different from you. And you give a life to another character. It’s a whole new experience and I feel great because usually in life we are focused on ourselves, but when we are acting we let go off ourselves and become someone else.
Heshan: Not many actresses possess educational qualifications but you have a degree in law. Tell us about it. How did you manage and balance both?
It was very difficult to balance infact when I was pursuing my degree I had to give up acting for a while. I got a lot of good opportunities but I kept on saying no. because I think once I started studies, my priority became finishing my degree and I didn’t want to delay it. It was really hard, I remember during the first semester of my degree I had shootings everyday for 6 months and I missed all my tutorials in that period. So I focused on my studies until I’m done with it.
Kishani is the only child in her family. She always got her parents attention. As a child she never had a fixed ambition or goal. At one time she thought she wanted to be an air hostess, then one time she wanted to get into business. As a child she used to think a lot, and contemplate and she was more of a dreamer and she used to live in her own bubble. She is not only a great actress, but an amazing human being with a kind heart. She is an activist who is compassionate towards underprivileged kids. She is also an ambassador for the ‘Foundation of Goodness’ and spends most of her time helping the less fortunate children, which makes her standout from other traditional actresses in Sri Lanka.
Heshan: Tell us about your best experience or incident you encountered in your career?
These days I’m presenting for a TV program called “A TEAM B TEAM” and it’s an adventure program. Every week we bring 4 artists and give them totally different and a unique experience because as an artist you are not exposed to any adventure. It’s a new experience to me as well because I was never involved in adventure, so I get involved in the action too and it has given me a lot of courage and it helps me to face challenges. The program is shot in Belihuloya. We do seven days of shooting every month.
Heshan: Tell us about the latest drama you are taking part in?
The recent one took place it Italy and we are hoping to go back again to complete the drama. It’s a Sri Lankan drama and it’s about Sri Lankans who try to migrate to Italy and the problems and issues they face during this process. So it’s a new story line. It’s different. Most of the actors are Sri Lankans who reside in Italy.
Heshan: So are you playing one of the immigrant’s role in that drama?
Yes I’m one of the immigrants.
Heshan: What are your leisure timeactivities?
I Read, I watch TV, Documentaries like National Geography and I love travelling!
Heshan: What are your future plans?
I’m actuallyinvolved in the Foundation of Goodness. It’s a local NGO and I represent them as an ambassador and every month I campaign to find donations and funds for less privileged kids in rural areas. It’s an ongoing process. I have been very involved with it. I have been getting good responses. It’s something I’m very passionate about, because ever since I was a kid, I wanted to work with kids and I wanted to run an orphanage,but then I got introduced to this foundation. If anyone is interested in donating, helping and contributing in anyway they are welcome to contact me.
Heshan: Can you talk about that one defining moment, you knew you wanted to become an actress?
Yeah I think after my first Tele-drama, and the experience and the feeling I got from it, that was when I knew, this is what I wanted to do.
Heshan: What challenges have you had to face in your chosen career?
A lot of challenges. You got a lot of competition in the industry. Maybe not everyone is broadminded as we think they are. You have to be careful when you work with people, you don’t know who your true friends are. You have to be in the industry for a while to know how difficult it is to survive in this industry. I never took this career very seriously. I’m passionate about it. But it’s not like something I would do to survive. I would do it out of passion. You get a lot of undercutting which I never take part in. At the end of the day it’s up to god you know.
Heshan: What would you want to be if you weren’t an actress?
Even at the moment I’m an advocate for human rights and that would be what I want to be. I want to work for kids and help them to get a good education, that’s what makes me feel good
Heshan: Tell us about your family life. How do you balance it with your career?
My mom is always with me wherever I go. If I go out of Colombo she accompanies me, so I don’t have to balance a family life. My dad always emphasize on the importance of having a good education. He never really forced me to do anything. He gave me freedom to choose and do what I like.
Heshan: What is the Magical formula behind your success?
I would call it destiny, God and my mother.
Heshan: If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
Hmmm, what do I think the title should be? It’s really hard to define myself in one word. Haha!
Heshan: If you were given another chance to go back in life, what kind of a change would you make to yourself?
If I’m to make any change, I would probably tell myself not to take life seriously and be more positive.
Heshan: What do you like to hear god say, when you arrive at the Pearly Gates of heaven one day?
You are home.
Heshan: What if anything, do we as a Country, have to step up in order to take the Sri Lankan movie or drama scene to a greater height?
Sri Lanka is a small country so we need a lot of foreign investors to invest in the movie industry and the technology. And we definitely need a school to train technicians and we need a school for directors and actors, basically I think it’s a lot to do with production. If you take the Indian audience, whatever the movie they make they can spend a whole lot of money on it because the audience is so big, they would eventually make a good profit. But in Sri Lanka you can’t spend much because ultimately you can’t cover the cost due to the market being so small. So in order to develop you need foreigncollaboration and investments.
Heshan: Designer crazy? Which brands do you wear most?
I’m not a designer crazy person. There are certain brands I like but I don’t buy something because of the brand. If something looks good on me, I just buy it.
Heshan: Do you believe you should follow fashion as an actress even if it is not practical, or would you rather just be comfortable?
Oh no, I think an actress should follow fashion coz she is a role model, a public figure and you are always in the public eye. People do see what you wear, people do get influence by what you wear and its always good to wear something appropriate and something which compliments you.
Real talent meet genuine kindness – she is a great example to our youth.
Article Written by Heshan Perera
Photography by: Photo – Art Location sponsored by Kingsbury Hotel