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Who is Lisa Ray?

Lisa Rani Ray, popularly known as Lisa Ray, was born to a Bengali father and a Polish Catholic mother on April 4, 1972, in Toronto. Even though she spent her childhood in the suburbs of Etobicoke, Canada, she also spent some time in Calcutta. Thus, she developed interests in both cultures and has been imbibing the same in her kids. Regarding her academic background, Lisa attended three high schools in Toronto Canada, including Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, Richview Collegiate Institute and Silverthorn Collegiate Institute, and excelled in her studies.

Lisa Ray's journey of being one of India's first supermodels at the age of 16

Lisa has always been outspoken about her accidental career and how she landed into modelling out of nowhere. For the unversed, the actress began her modelling career in 1991 when she was just 16 years old. She was "discovered" during a family vacation in India and casted for an advertisement for Bombay Dyeing, where she appeared in a black swimsuit. Afterwards, she was also seen in an iconic cover of the Indian fashion magazine, Gladrags, which gave her nationwide popularity.

It opened up doors to iconic global brands, including De Beers, L'Oreal, MasterCard and others. Lisa was also named the "ninth most beautiful woman of the millennium," the only model in the top ten by the Times of India. Explaining her first approach for the modelling assignment with Bombay Dyeing in an interview with Femina, Lisa had said:

"I was first approached to model on a trip to Bombay with my mum and dad. I was all of 16 and had graduated from high school a year early in order to see more of the world. As so happens, I found myself in Ashok Salian’s studio, fluidly moving from pose to pose like I was born for the camera, and appearing a full decade older while doing it. Here suddenly was a space where I could shed my introverted behaviour and create a new persona, free of confusion and angst. It was creative and freeing, and playful. And I didn’t take it seriously. This was the early 90s when modelling and acting were really not a legitimate career option - particularly for a brainy half-Bangla girl with an eye on a career in journalism or law."

Lisa Ray's fateful entry into Bollywood

Afterwards, Lisa returned to Canada to continue her studies. But during one fateful event in life, her entire world trembled. Explaining the same in one of her interviews, she revealed how her mommy, the bread earner of their family, was severely affected and couldn't walk again after that incident. Thus, this pushed her towards her acting career. She said:

"So, I returned to Canada to begin University when fate dealt its hand. On a clear, crisp day in late August, we were driving home from a picnic in the country when my father swerved to avoid a car and lost control. Our Honda Civic rolled and came to rest in the grass beside a golf course. As I was removed from the car by the emergency crew, I knew nothing in life would ever be the same. My mother and I had switched seats that afternoon, and because of that she was thrown from the back of the car and seriously damaged her spine. She would never walk again. Then many years later, my mum passed in 2008, just a few months before my physical challenges began. So, my career in India and entertainment started on the edge of a sword: one side was instant fame and fortune, and the other personal grief and pain."

After saying no to several projects, Lisa made her first Bollywood appearance in Vikram Bhatt's directorial, Kasoor, in 2001. To mention, by this time, she had made her acting debut with the Tamil film, Nethaji in 1996. Afterwards, Lisa also appeared in several TV shows and music videos. But the film turned Lisa into a 'sex-symbol', which in no way was the actress' plans to portray. Thus, she left India, to nurture her skills. She was heard revealing in one of her interviews as:

"By this time, I had come to be identified a glam girl, a sex symbol, which of course was not my whole story. I came to feel trapped by my image in India and while I was offered the most lucrative Bollywood projects of my era, I refused them all until ‘Kasoor’. Working with Vikram Bhatt, a director with similar sensibilities and a sensitivity towards actors, opened my perspective on how acting could not be a profession, but a personal mission to both understand myself and human nature, and bring great stories to an audience. I was hooked, but I also felt trapped by my image.So, life called me and I left India."

Lisa Ray's brush with the Oscars

As Lisa went abroad, she spent a huge amount of time visiting several fashion capitals, including London, Paris, Milan and New York. Not only that, while her stay in Europe, she also went to drama school, and studied mime and poetry. Then, she played a significant role in Deepa Mehta's 2005 film, Water, which was indeed a significant turning point in her career. The film was nominated at the 2005 Oscars along with the award-winning South African feature, The World Unseen.

Lisa Ray's battle with cancer

Everything was going smoothly in Lisa's life, until in 2009, when she once again hit rock bottom due to her deteriorating health. She was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer of the white blood cells, Multiple Myeloma, on June 23, 2009. In an interview, Lisa once revealed how the news of getting diagnosed with cancer came when she was riding high in her career and gave the least importance to her health. However, the actress never shied from opening up about her health, and she announced her diagnosis on the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Not only that, Lisa began writing a blog, The Yellow Diaries, which talked about her experiences of having cancer of the plasma cells, which produce antibodies. Her constant appearance at the multiple major publications and participation at several successful fundraisers and cancer awareness campaigns, gave hope to millions of cancer fighters. Unfortunately, she had also put on forty pounds of weight from steroids and developed chemo-induced menopause. But Lisa strongly fought cancer until she became cancer-free, as much as she could, as multiple myeloma is an incurable disease.

Finally, in April 2010, Lisa announced that she was cancer-free. This happened after an autologous stem cell transplant which used her own stem cells. However, as the cancer can't be cured completely, she is still finely dealing with the residuals for the rest of her life.

Lisa Ray's multiple heartbreaks before ultimately finding love in Jason Dehni

Coming to Lisa's affairs, she has been in multiple relationships until she found the love of her life. As per reports, she was engaged to Vishesh Uppal earlier. Moreover, she was also in relationships with fashion photographer, Paolo Zambaldi and Canadian businessman, W. Brett Wilson. Not only that, it was also reported that when Bollywood actor, Sanjay Dutt was going through a tough phase, both personally and professionally, he had found solace in actress, Lisa Ray. However, Lisa has always denied being in a romantic relationship with Sanjay.

Fast forward to now, she is happily married to the love of her life, Jason Dehni and their twin kids. It was in February 2012, when Lisa announced her engagement to management consultant, Jason Dehni. And on October 20, 2012, Jason and Lisa got hitched to each other in a hush-hush wedding in Napa Valley, California.

Lisa Ray embraced motherhood through surrogacy

Afterwards, on September 17, 2018, Lisa took to her IG handle, and in an adorable post, announced that she and her husband, Jason become parents to twin daughters. She also revealed that the duo embraced parenthood via surrogacy in Tbilisi, Georgia, in June 2018. Revealing the reason behind adopting the surrogacy process, she penned that since she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2009, it required her to be on a lifelong dose of medication. Thus, it pre-empted the possibility for her to carry children herself. Lisa also revealed that she and Jason named their daughters Sufi (the mystic) and Soleil (the French word for ‘sun’).

What is Lisa Ray doing now?

Apart from her acting and modelling career, Lisa added another cap to her head when she thought of becoming an art curator. In 2023, she launched curator-led digital art and NFT (non-fungible token) platform, TheUpsideSpace. This gave a beautiful platform to a new generation of artists from South, East, and West Asia. Lisa's co-founder is a Singapore-based art patron, Ayesha Khan, and she is also collaborating with curators such as Bhutan’s Kelly Dorji, Pakistan’s Omer Nabi and Bali-based, Bandana Tewari, in the hope of giving global visibility to regional artists, while also demystifying the metaverse to the average consumer.

Well, we are already stunned to know about Lisa Ray's journey over the years. What about you? Let us know!


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