Alice Patten in Rang de Basanti, Amy Jackson in Singh Is Bliing, Barbara Mori in Kites, Bruna Abdullah in Jai Ho and Grand Masti, Elli Avram in Kis Kis Ko Pyaar Karoon, Evelyn Sharma in Yaariyan and Nautanki Saala, Giselle Monterio in Love Aaj Kal, Jacqueline Fernandez in Race 2, Kick and Housefull 2… the list of mixed origin actresses with an Indian parent or foreign actresses making it big in Indian cinema is a long one. Not to forget the legendary Helen of Anglo-Burmese origin.
But we are here not to talk about any of these actresses but one who has been quietly creating a niche for herself through a Kannada TV serial, Billi Hendthi. This is the first time in India that a girl of mixed origin plays the lead in a mega series (450+ episodes).
We caught up with Krystyna Devina Lason, the half-Indian, half-Polish actor who lived in India during her growing up years and went to school in Mumbai where her family is based. The model-actor talks about her life with us…
Both my parents are language experts by profession and speak around 10 languages between them. My father is Polish and has worked at the Polish Consulate in Mumbai for many years. I’m the only child who is an avid animal lover and have always had pets at home. At the moment, I have two cats whom I adopted in Mumbai. I started to model as well as intern with leading media houses in Mumbai at age 16 to gain work experience before university. I worked with Elite Models, Time Out Mumbai magazine, 9X News and CNBC TV 18.
At age 19, I moved to London where I studied media and went on to work with top TV and media companies. I then studied journalism at Harvard. A few years later, I moved back to India and worked as an anchor and producer with CNBC, TV18, WION and the Times Group. I covered a variety of subjects from news, business, lifestyle, travel and virtual reality.
I have been career-oriented and financially independent from the days after I graduated high school. A close family friend, a renowned photographer in India, recommended I tried modelling and made some money in my teen years. With some guidance, I did that but was perhaps too young to be sure that’s I wanted to do. But I was curious to give it a shot. However, education was important and I completed it before moving on. Working in front of the camera since age 16, modelling came naturally so when in 2017, I was offered a role in a Kannada TV series, I accepted.
They have always been my rock and supported all my career moves. The agreed that it was worth giving modelling a shot and so I did it with their blessings. They even accompanied me to auditions and shoots at times to give me their moral support.
Memorable moments in Mumbai…
While interning at CNBC TV18, I was placed on an award winning show called Tech Toyz. Initially, I trained as an assistant to the main journalists but soon under the support and guidance of my mentor at work, I was asked to co-anchor the show. It was the first time an intern was given that level of responsibility which was really motivating. The day my first segment was aired, my family and friends gathered to watch it together and it was a very proud moment!
Creating a name in entertainment industry
I’m blessed to have been selected for the role in the serial. Being taken seriously as an actor is not easy. While what I offer is unique, it is not for everybody and so to convince various audiences to accept me as an actor will take hard work. Finding the right roles for a foreign-Indian mixed girl is not easy as there is not that much content of this nature being made in India as yet. However, being of mixed origin and having lived in India for many years, speaking Hindi language is part of my offering and thus I am versatile enough to fit any role, not only foreign.
Lead role in Kannada serial
Through industry referrals, I was contacted by a Mumbai-based producer to star in his upcoming show on Star Suvarna — Bili Hendthi (the foreign wife). It’s a Kannada serial based on a foreign girl in India. This has been a challenge as being the central character, I have many dialogues and am in most of the scenes. We had almost no time for language training before starting shoot and thus I had to dive right into it. Through a system of memorising and prompting, I managed it easily.
I would love to get into films. I am looking for projects with a strong public message, unique storylines and inspiring content. I’m open to new and different projects.
Interest in spiritual and healing practices
In the last few years, I have turned to spirituality in various forms. I’m interested in understanding life better, human nature and the unknown mystical world. I practice Buddhism, have learned tarot card reading, telepathy with animals, studied akashic records, an elevated form of astrological readings called Human Design and more. I’m now planning to learn reiki and the practice of aerial yoga.
One thing I love about India
India for me is the land of possibilities, be it professional, spiritual or personal. Opportunities are endless here and there is room for everyone, especially if your aim is to make a difference. It’s also in India that spiritual inspiration and beliefs are abundant and it is here that I’ve taken my journey in this space forward.
One thing I dislike about India
I have come across people of quite traditional mindsets in India, especially with regards to women. With the exposure I have had to Western and Indian cultures, I am personally extremely openminded and do not believe in finding differences between people. Often here though people can be close-minded and biased towards foreigners which is something I face quite often.