By Shilpi Madan
The leggy, elegant, articulate Alesia Raut Surryavanshi is a revelation of sorts. She engages herself in an animated conversation: from powering the numero uno pageant institute in the country, Cocoaberry (with her sister Anjali Raut), to her experiences on the ramp and increasing passion for choreography and balancing her work out with the time she prioritises with her family. Married to actor Siddhaant Surryavanshi, Alesia has her hands full with two teens: Diza, 15, from her husband’s first marriage, and Mark, 13, from her first marriage.
Excerpts from a conversation with Express Parenting:
How’s it going, with two teenagers?
Getting along. Mark and Diza are as thick as thieves, and often gang up against my husband (Siddhaant Surryavanshi). They love to trouble him.
How did Mark react to yours and Siddhaant’s decision to get married?
He was happy as he missed having a dad. He dotes on Siddhaant.
Do the four of you stay together?
Diza stays with her mother but comes over often to spend time with us. We are a team: the four of us, and work on our relationship. We always talk and iron out any problem if it arises. I understand and respect that there are certain boundaries. I think it is important for all of us, as mothers, to watch our tone while talking to our children. Else well-intended advice can be misconstrued as a jibe.
What is your biggest takeaway from modelling?
I am 5 ft 10 inches tall and as a kid used to feel that I stuck out like a sore thumb owing to my height. Apart from my brother, no one around was taller than me! I began to develop a complex, and started lacking self-confidence to speak and express myself. My mother suggested I take up modelling as a career and then I flowered. My biggest learning has been in my self-realisation and self-worth.
Who is your rock of Gibraltar?
My mother. She advised me to begin investing all my earnings in a house in Mumbai when I took to modelling at her behest. Today, I am lucky to have two homes in the city
What is it like bringing up kids in a multicultural environment?
Sheer joy. My mother is a Russian, my father Maharashtrian, Siddhaant is Gujarati…we celebrate all festivals from Eid to Diwali with gusto. Ours is a universal religion.
One thing you do for Mark everyday?
Make breakfast for him in the morning and pack his tiffin for school. I do this irrespective of the time I have slept at night. And yes, the hug he lets me give him! He loves spending time with Siddhaant (laughs) and much as I secretly grudge that, I enjoy it.
One point of argument?
No social media presence for him. I have enough to deal with in terms of screen fixation with Fortnite!
What is the appropriate age for children to pursue modelling?
Below 18, you are ineligible for walking the ramp in fashion weeks. But at 13-14 years, under the aegis of your parents, you can start paying greater attention to your posture, body language. Abroad, when the contestants arrive at international pageants at the age of 18, they already have a couple of years invested in preparing for the contest. That makes them stand at an advantage.
Your advice to other women?
We are born multi-taskers and can do anything we set our minds to. Do not ever suppress or sacrifice your dreams. Whether you are working or are a homemaker, you must make your presence felt. Learn to live your life as you live only once.
I have been training the pageant participants for 12 years now. Cocoaberry is well-established (two of the top three winners this year at the national level pageant are our students). Now I want to concentrate more on choreography as I enjoy it immensely.
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