#PowerWomen: Remember That You are Only as Good as Your Last Job - Kubbra Sait

Industry Watch | February 15, 2021 | Interview

Kubra Sait EVENTFAQS Media PowerWomen

Continuing the EVENTFAQS #PowerWomen series in the run-up to International Women’s Day on March 8, we talk to Kubbra Sait, celebrated emcee, TV host, model and actor, about her journey in the events industry.

Kubbra Sait has been in the events industry for over a decade. She has performed as an anchor in more than 30 countries, played several characters in films, television ads and OTT series, and worked as a TV host for entertainment channels across India, the Middle East and South-east Asia.

Here, she shares insights on her entry into the events industry, challenges she faces, position of women in the industry, priorities at work, advice for young women entering the events sector and more.

I think it was the year 2010, and it seems like I had a life before it - almost a previous life. Because I come from a South Indian family, everybody back at home in Bangalore is either an engineer or a doctor, or in the IT space. So, I was expected to do one of those things too and right after graduation, I started working at Microsoft. I continued there for three years, but somehow, every day, it just felt really robotic. There was a time when I said, ‘No, I want to do something on my own, how am I going to do it? No idea. What am I going to do? No idea.’ So I left and came to Mumbai, where I knew nobody - not one drop of familiarity, no family member, no friends, no nothing 10 years ago in this city.

My friends were the people I knew on Facebook.I actually got to know people, clients, event managers through the World Wide Web - through Facebook, as Twitter wasn’t that big; LinkedIn was something that I was anyway using. Social media gave me a footing of sorts, to move forward, to understand what kind of work I want to do, who I want to work with, to build a database. The one thing I did was write very good e-mails saying, ‘Hi, I'm an emcee, I host events and I was doing a bit of it part time back in Dubai, I was also a radio jockey; I've been doing it since I was 15. I think I'm only good at it and I only know I can get better.’ There was this confidence in me, and I started reaching out to people with the same confidence. I think they saw something in me, and gave me my first opportunity, followed by my second and my third… But the truth is,10 years on, I still believe that you are only as good as your last job.

I think we have more brains than we are credited for. I remember packing clothes one day for a show I had in Delhi, and as they had locked me really late for the show, I called the client to ask ‘What do I need to pack?’ I'm not joking, the response I received was: ‘Yaar, dealer log hai,kuchh bhi pehen le, man khush karde unka’.I said, if you do not realize what you said to me, I don't need an apology, but I need the realization that you're not going to say this to anybody else. Looking at hosting from a very small, microscopic view, people say anybody will do, just let her look sexy, let her look glamorous. There is patriarchy in our events business; people need to be respected for what they're doing, be they men or women; their pool of talent needs to be put first and ahead of them, more than the clothes or make-up they wear. I'm not being hired for the way I look, I'm hired for the way I speak. Women need to take the responsibility to stand up for themselves and assert themselves; where they're not okay with something, they need to say ‘I'm not okay with this’. If we do that, we're moving in the right direction.

Study the craft, get better at your craft, don't rest on one last successful event. You need to go out there and make your next event successful as well. Please concentrate on your craft, don't get distracted by ‘Oh, I need to buy this dress and I need to buy that dress’. Also, please don't think that getting into the events industry is your way to start it. As an anchor, you are a part of the show, you are not the show. As an anchor, you are that foundation and everything relies on you. But if you walk in there going like, ‘Oh, everyone's gonna know my name, everyone's gonna love me after the show, I'm gonna do this and that’…Thatis a mindset that I don't endorse.

I have stood in line and auditioned, like everybody else in Mumbai. I have made notes of the different casting directors I wanted to work with, received call-backs from them, spoke to them. When I got an audition, I learnt my lines. One thing I've realized over a very long time of doing both events and acting as fictional characters is, be it a web platform or the silver screen, you are bringing yourself on stage. If I'm a certain way, then I multiply that by 10 and bring it on stage. When I'm playing a fictitious character, I'm that character; I need to understand that the character is very different from who I am; my body only plays the vehicle to tell that character's story. As an anchor, I was always used to making eye contact all over the place. I wanted every member of the audience to see me and I wanted to connect to every person sitting out there. But when I was acting, for example in SacredGames, I remember I found it very hard to look at the camera and speak to the camera. There are situations when you look at that camera mark as a living person and deliver your lines with conviction to that particular mark. It gets extremely challenging if you don't know how to switch off and switch on in just one second.

I would love to go make the most of life in my free time - go for runs on the beach, get a nice suntan, do my job really well, and come back home. As I've been away from home, when I do return home in April, it will be eight months since I've been away. In comparison to 2017, when I did one project for 15 days, and it just shook my centre to be away from home and familiarity, now I'm getting more and more peaceful with myself.

Continuing the EVENTFAQS #PowerWomen series in the run-up to International Women’s Day on March 8, we talk to Kubbra Sait, celebrated emcee and actor, about her journey in the events industry.

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