My journey from a tomboy to a pageant queen – Aditi Shetty
Nobody ever believed Aditi Shetty could become an actress. Fueled by her childhood dream, she did not give up. Aditi now has a host of interesting projects and numerous pageant titles under her kitty. In an exclusive chat with Indian Ad Divas, Aditi talks about battling her inner demons and gathering the confidence to make it in the entertainment industry!
IAD: Tell us a little bit about your background, family, childhood, and education? When did your passion for acting and modeling emerge?
Aditi Shetty: I am a Mangalorean born and raised in Mumbai. I was that kid who would be extremely distracted in class, but heavily involved in all kinds of extracurricular activities. I was the ‘Assistant Sports Captain’ in my school. I badgered my parents to enroll me in the Shiamak Davar’s Institute of Performing Arts. I became the youngest student in their special batch. My only dream at the time was to become a performer.
The first turning point was when I decided to leave science after junior college and enrolled for Mass Media at Jai Hind College, Mumbai. I would choreograph all the dance performances and events during college fests. As I saw myself enjoying the stage, I started looking for ways to do it professionally.
Did you face any difficulties while trying to enter the industry?
I was a major tomboy growing up. I had a short, weird haircut, and absolutely no dressing sense. People would look at me and say, ‘how can she even dream of being on TV?’
Very few close ones had faith in me. I would go on Facebook and research on the industry. One day, I got to know about a place in Andheri West that was holding auditions. I was scared to go alone, so I got a friend along. There I stood, completely clueless, and trying to be girly. They stopped me at the door and said, ‘you are not fit for this.’
That crushed me completely. I was young and filled with dreams. After that, I did not go for auditions for a while. My friends and family encouraged me to swallow my pride and try again.
How did you get a break?
My career began with a local pageant in the Shetty community. The competition was for the title of ‘Miss Bunts World’. It may sound like a small affair, but girls from around the world had gathered for the event. This pageant opened up a host of opportunities for me. I was like the underdog that kept winning for some reason. I won Miss Mangalore, and was the first runner up at Miss South India, and Miss Queen of India. I had somehow cracked the code of winning pageants.
People started recognizing me as the ‘Pageant Girl.’ This was when I decided I had to move on to acting. The struggle was long and difficult. It took me a year to figure out how the industry works, but I gradually started getting projects.
We loved watching you in India’s Next Top Model. How did that happen? What was it like participating in reality TV?
I never thought I would be part of a reality show. I did not go in with a lot of expectations. Surprisingly, I had a lot of fun. Most importantly, it helped me become a household name. I remember the episode in which they were giving us a surprise makeover. They took out all the mirrors from the room. I was sitting there all relaxed when I sensed the hairstylist taking out a chunk of hair right near my ear. I had started to have a mild meltdown right there, but I completely lost it when I saw the mirror. They had given me a wacky bob!
I had grown up a tomboy with short hair, and I definitely did not want to revisit those memories. I started bowling, and it was all covered on national television. It seems hilarious when I think of it now. (Chuckles)
IAD: How was your experience competing for the Miss Universe India 2018 pageant? What did you take back from the journey?
Aditi Shetty: I always had Miss Universe at the back of my mind when participating in any pageant. However, somewhere I lacked confidence.
I didn’t deem myself fit for a competition of this scale. In 2018, I finally gathered the courage to send my pictures across. I was called for an audition. The entire day was filled with many activities from a Swimsuit round, introduction round, Ramp Walk, and a Q&A round. At the end of the night, I was told to move over to the pageant house. I was selected, and training would start the following day.
The next 30 days went by like a breeze. We would wake up at 4 in the morning, get ready and put on makeup, research for the tasks, go for interviews and shoots, and finally pack up well after midnight. If I were younger, I would have gotten super stressed. But I decided to relax and enjoy the journey to its fullest. I had a good time with myself during the Miss Universe Pageant. I ended up being among the Top 10 finalists.
Looking back at your journey, what is something you want to say?
There were many times where I could have easily said, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ I had a phase where I was riddled with insecurities. I doubted myself after every rejection. However, deep down, I was confident that there was some spark in me.
Becoming an actress was my childhood dream. I wasn’t going to give it up so easily. I am glad I kept at it because what I do now is more than a dream come true. I genuinely love every part of my job. I love giving auditions, I love being in front of the camera, and I love meeting amazing people every day. The entertainment industry is like one big family, and I am glad to be a part of it.
I love giving auditions, I love being in front of the camera, and I love meeting amazing people every day. – Aditi Shetty
IAD wishes Aditi Shetty the very best. You can follow Aditi’s work and her fitness regime on Instagram @aditishetty.
Interviewed by Prachi Shevgaonkar. Featured photo courtesy: Jay Dodia.