In the world showbiz, where external beauty is considered everything, Anmol Rodriguez, an acid attack survivor, has made her way in this industry.
Watch this 2 mins video to get glimpses of her life journey so far.
Do read her full interview with Inspirational Beings team to know what all challenges she had to go through during her journey, how did she manage to overcome those challenges, what are some of her best and worst experiences so far, what are her learnings and what is her message to our readers.
•Please tell us about your background and childhood?
I do not know my background, as I was merely two months old when I had an acid attack, and the attacker was my father. He threw acid on my mother when I was in her lap. I don’t even know who admitted me to the hospital.
Since no one came forward for my custody, nurses and doctors kept me in the hospital until I completed five years. After that, they transferred me to an orphanage. I have no idea about my family and not even my distant relatives; no one ever visited me. I don't even know whether my father is dead or alive. I lived in an orphanage, though it's a lonely life without family I was lucky to have good friends in my orphanage.
•You completed your BCA despite challenges. Please tell us how did you manage this journey?
I was rejected by many schools, as school authorities were concerned about children getting scared by my face, but later they gave me admission after my orphanage pleaded my case. I was too young then and struggled to understand why my face was different from other children and why kids were scared to look at me.
I completed my HSC (Higher School Certificate) but always struggled to make any friends outside my hostel in school. I had no friends, or I was never called for any party or a get-together by anyone. I completed my HSC and wanted to study further. Since admission was through online scoring systems, I got entry after clearing online tests but after getting into college the struggle started. I couldn’t make friends because of my appearance. Everyone used to look at me either with ridicule or despise. I was on the verge of depression, as I used to think why everyone is avoiding me? Why I am the only one who has no friends and why the other students even struggle to smile back. But teachers motivated me to concentrate on studies and said, “Only education can change your fate, and once you do good in studies you will start getting friends, but never think of quitting your studies.”
•What are some of the challenges you handled being an acid survivor and how did you overcome them?
Living a life of acid attack survivor is very difficult in India. When I started moving out of my hostel for my studies, interacting with people was a huge challenge. People used to make faces or pass nasty comments. In local trains or crowd, they intentionally used to keep space, as if my slightest touch would be dangerous for them. Initially, I used to feel bad and sometimes hate myself for having such a face. But as I grew older, I made peace with the fact that my face is disfigured.
The other challenge is people show you a lot of sympathies, but when it comes to giving opportunities, those same people rejects you. They don't give any importance to talent or hard work, and at that time they give the reason for your appearance.
But later I trained my mind and understood this was going to happen for my entire life and I would have to accept myself. I had to remind myself every day that no one would be liking me or people will hate my face but I must move on and I shouldn’t be thinking over other’s comments.
•What is your learning’s from those challenges?
I am happy to share; the situation changed when I accepted myself. When I started wearing my scars and started loving myself, things improved, people began receiving me. Now people come forward to take selfies with me, and I get many social media requests for friendship.
Accept reality. Train your mind to ignore hateful comments and concentrate on your work. Don’t get panicked by people reaction as you can’t change people but yes you can change your approach about how you deal with the rejection, if one door closes, push the other door harder.
•Tell us more about why you thought of becoming an (unconventional) model, and you may share the best and worst experiences?
Since my childhood, I used to adore film actress Priyanka Chopra and had dreamed of being an actress when I was very young. But later, I realized it was impossible even to think on those lines as only pretty faces can think of becoming models and people would never accept my face as a model. I started pursuing a career in corporate and was determined to concentrate on the job which I grabbed after completing my graduation. After two months of my work, I was fired, despite being a good performer and the reason was employer couldn’t tolerate my disfigured face.
I was shattered; I didn’t understand how to proceed further for managing my livelihood. Despite trying hard, I couldn't get another job, and the reason for rejecting me used to be very evident on the selection committee’s face. I once again started thinking about modeling but was afraid to approach anyone, as people may ridicule me. Once an idea struck my mind; I thought of posting my photos on social media. Though I was skeptical, one of my friends motivated me to post. When I posted my first picture, I got great appreciation from people. Then I posted a couple of more pictures and sent them to a few model coordinators on social media, and they gave me a chance in their shoot. I love to pose in front of the camera and modeling.
The best moment of my life was when I worked with the famous Indian actress Shabana Azmi in a short film called Aunty Ji. And I got an appreciation from her for my acting skills; she said I would be a big film actress one day. I like it when people mention me as a model and praise my fashion sense. I have more than 100,000 Instagram followers. And I feel happy about my journey from a lonely orphan scarred girl to recognized model.
The worst moment was when one modeling agency refused to pay and mentioned that - “You got a good exposure. We favored you by hiring you, don’t expect us to pay you”. Life can’t be carried with sympathy, and you need money or monitory support to survive; it was a bad experience as I had worked hard to complete the assignment.
•What is the definition of empowerment to you?
An empowered person should be independent physically, psychologically and monitory. And should be in a capacity to support other people and in lifting the morals of others who are in their troubled time.
•What's your future plan?
I feel good when people refer to me as inspirational. I want to be a successful model and actress. I have acting skills and can put hard work to prove myself. I have learned a lot from my life. My struggles and problems have made me stronger and more robust to handle any difficult situation in life. I want to share my learning with society and with people who feel they are lesser than others. I love traveling and want to explore the world. Would like to work for supporting acid survivors in leading dignified life. Several acid attack victims in our society are deprived of education because of either they did not get a chance or were offended by social rejection. I want to work on creating opportunities for making them independent and confident.
•What's your message to our viewers?
Don’t judge people by looks; everyone is unique.
Make efforts to change situations which you can change, but there is no point in thinking on those things which are not in your hand. Don't think about your limitations but work on your strengths and chase your dreams. There will be many to demotivate you but there will equally more significant lot to support you, so don't allow others opinion to restrict you.
Dreams do come true. If a girl like me who had no one to look up to for relying on any problem in life and had no guidance can lead a good life, then everyone else has an equal chance.