Zara Noor Abbas has slowly become a household name and one of Pakistan’s favorite actors. She recently gave a Ted Talk at GCU Lahore about her journey as a woman in Pakistani society as well as an actor. Her talk will make you fall in love with her.
The first half of her talk revolves around her struggle to get her career started.
She talks about how it was always hard for her to convince her father of her choice to become an actor. It was always Zara’s passion to act, may it be theatre or on TV dramas.
At one point she says; ‘Mein school bhi chali jao gi, university bhi chali jao gi, lekin jab bhi koi dramatics competition hota tha, I would be the first in line.’
In fact, she recounts how she had to convince her father to let her travel to Iran for a theatre performance. After initially being rejected, her mother told her to use the fact that the performance will be in the hijab to make him change his mind; it worked!
Her family told her that she should get married and that after that she can pursue whatever dreams she has. This leads to some traveling and looking for the right man. This story involves Zara losing her passport and realizing it only after she reaches Manchester and having to be sent back to Pakistan. Finally, she reaches America and finds the man of her dreams, rather the man that can help her realize her dreams.
After getting married she realized that her motive was flawed. She really just wanted to ‘escape’ from her home, from the people whom she later realized love her so much.
She didn’t feel ‘right’ in her situation, and it eventually it ended with divorce. She had to deal with the fact that she was an actor, who belongs to a family of actors. She had to face the stereotype, ‘haye actress hai, upar se divorcee’. She admits that this is a bad time for her and it was made worse by news of her mother being diagnosed with cancer. Zara gives her mother a lot of credit for getting her out of this low point. Despite her cancer, Zara’s mother fought through and recorded a song for her movie despite people telling she couldn’t anymore. ‘Hum sab ne unn ke himmat se himmat pakri’.
Before Zara could tune out the negative voices in her head, she had to find herself and her purpose. She connected to God and then was finally able to move on and conquer the world.
It was soon after this that she met her husband, Asad Siddiqui. According to her, her decision to marry the first time was based on a shaky understanding of what she wanted. She was blinded with the possibility of being an actor that she just went with it. With Asad, she said that she knew what was important to her, ‘Mujhe, mujhe hi rehna tha’.
She ends by restated that a single decision is very important. Know why you’re making that decision and also what you want out of it. Understand who you are and what is driving you. You are the most important person in your life therefore, you must always put yourself first!
You can watch the entire talk here.