In 1996, Ray appeared in the famous song “Afreen Afreen” by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Lisa Rani Ray, born 4 April 1972, is a Canadian actress, model, host, philanthropist and social activist.
Lisa Ray was born in Toronto to a Hindu Bengali Indian father and a Polish mother and grew up in the suburb of Etobicoke. She excelled academically, doing five years of high school in four, while attending three different high schools: Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, Richview Collegiate Institute and Silverthorn Collegiate Institute.
She spoke Polish to her maternal grandmother and watched movies of Federico Fellini and Satyajit Ray with her cinephile dad. Ray was spotted by an agent in a crowd during a family vacation in India when she was 16 when she began modeling.
Lisa Ray came to public attention when she appeared in an advertisement for Bombay Dyeing wearing a high-cut black swimsuit, opposite Karan Kapoor. Subsequently, she returned to Canada to attend university to study journalism, but a car injury which injured her mother derailed those plans. Instead, she returned to India where she appeared on the cover of Glad Rags wearing a red Baywatch-style swimsuit. The sensation that caused led to more magazine covers, spokesperson deals and a job as host of her own show-business program. A Times of India poll named her the “ninth most beautiful woman of the millennium,” the only model in the top ten. She also anchored a TV show Star Biz on Star Movies with actor/model Kelly Dorji.
Ray made her cinematic debut in 1994 in the Tamil film Nethaji opposite actor Sarath Kumar where she appeared in a brief role. Later she acted in a Telugu film Takkari Donga opposite Mahesh Babu.
In 1996, Lisa Ray appeared in the famous song “Afreen Afreen” by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and appeared in the song “Har Taraf Tera Jalwa” by Daler Mehndi in 1998.
Lisa Ray became the enduring brand ambassador for Rado Watches in India.
In April 2010, Ray announced she was cancer-free following a stem cell transplant. Ray gave a candid interview on her personal cancer trauma and surviving it, appearing on the cover of the 2010 anniversary issue of the Indian men’s luxury magazine The Man.
Ray was seen in UniGlobe Entertainment’s cancer docu-drama titled 1 a Minute scheduled for release in 2010. The documentary was made by Namrata Singh Gujral and also featured cancer survivors Olivia Newton-John, Diahann Carroll, Melissa Etheridge, Mumtaz and Jaclyn Smith as well as William Baldwin, Daniel Baldwin and Priya Dutt, whose lives have been touched by cancer. The feature was narrated by Kelly McGillis. It also starred Bárbara Mori, Deepak Chopra and Morgan Brittany.
On November 16, 2010, TLC India announced to film a 5-part new series, Oh My Gold (OMG), with Lisa Ray and premiered in 2011. The series Oh My Gold was set against the cultural yet contemporary backdrop of India. Uncovering the beauty of various cities, Ray played both a host and a travel guide.
Lisa Ray has since become an outspoken advocate for stem cell technology, recording a PSA for the McEwan Centre for Regenerative Medicine and completed a national media tour in Canada for Multiple Myeloma called Making Myeloma Matter in early 2011 to raise public awareness.
In 2011, Lisa Ray acted in the acclaimed stage play Taj opposite Kabir Bedi in Luminato and was at Taj Mahal and Estee Lauder Breast Cancer event to spread awareness about breast cancer.
On July 5, 2010, Ray was honored to be a host of the informal lunch for Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Toronto. Ray also hosted the 2011 International Indian Film Academy IIFA Rocks fashion and music event, as well as a presenter at the IIFA Awards and 2011 Giller Prize.
A strong advocate of stem cell research and a long-time Yoga practitioner, Ray partnered with co-owners, Paris and Annette, in 2011 to open Moksha Yoga Brampton.
On November 15, 2011, Ray announced that she had been named to host season two of Top Chef Canada which is Food Network Canada’s top-rated series and the show is premiered in March 2012.
Ray has one TV series Endgame and one film Patch Town released in 2011, Also guest-starred in the Canadian drama television series Murdoch Mysteries, which aired on Apr. 12, 2011.
On 18 May 2012, Craig Goodwill announced that Lisa Ray is starring in his Boy Toy, a fantasy drama based on Goodwill’s short film Patch Town. Boy Toy begins shooting in Toronto in November 2012.
Lisa Ray was diagnosed with multiple myeloma on 23 June 2009, a cancer of the white blood cells known as plasma cells, which produce antibodies. It is a rare disease. In April 2010, she announced she was cancer-free following a stem cell transplant. In February 2012 she announced her engagement to management consultant Jason Dehni. She will marry her fiance, banking exec and philanthropist Jason Dehni, on October 20, 2012.
Lisa Ray speaks her marriage Plans:
How much of your Indian background would be visible in your wedding on Oct 20? Would you be wearing Indian clothes?
Wendell Rodricks is designing my wedding gown and he’s a very dear friend who has known me since I first landed in Bombay in 1991. There will be a strong Indian influence in our Wedding starting with the sangeet on Friday night. My friend Suphala who is an extremely accomplished tabla player based in New York will be performing that evening. I will be wearing a Tarun Tahiliani anarkali outfit, and on the Wedding day I will change into a Satya Paul sari. I also have a lovely Laila Motwani ensemble. Jason will be rocking in a custom-designed Raghu Rathore bandgala. Raghu is also an old friend. We’ve been joking that since both my father and Jason are wearing exactly the same Rathore band-galas, I have to get a string of pearls for Jason to wear in order to stand out!
Would there be any invitees from Mumbai, specially the entertainment industry at your wedding?
The most beautiful experience so far is how much all my friends are getting into the spirit of the Wedding. All my non-Indian girlfriends have gone shopping for saris and a close friend of mine from LA recently took her husband shopping for Indian wear. While everyone was showing him sober Nehru jackets he spotted an elaborately embroidered sherwani on a mannequin in the store and insisted on trying it on. He bought it! We will be having another reception in India next year to celebrate with all the friends and family who can’t make it out to Napa Valley.
Are you planning to relocate to India? Apparently, you’ve been searching for a suitable home to buy in Mumbai?
Jason and I are going to explore many options in the near future. At the moment we have just bought a house in Toronto and we will need some time to settle into our new life together. I am eager to spend more time in India but I will always have a foot in both worlds. I’ve just come out of a demanding filming schedule. I have to put the finishing touches on my book. I have optioned a novel called The Tiger’s Claw to turn into a film. It is based on a historical character I’ve been obsessed with for years. I can’t wait to perform again, but it has to be the right project.I just finished a campaign for Pantene called ‘Beautiful Lengths’ where we ask people to grow and donate their hair to make real hair wigs for women battling cancer. It was a wonderful experience to film this campaign in Toronto.
You are shooting for Top Chef. You did a film based on cooking with Dilip Mehta. Are you a good cook? Would you be doing a lot of cooking after marriage?
I’m passionate about food and eating, even more so now that I’m doing another season of Top Chef Canada.
How attached are you to the Bengali side of your family history? Can you speak Bangla? Do you crave to reclaim your Bengali bearings?
My Bengali heritage is extremely important to me. It’s in my blood. On my last trip to Bombay, I connected with old friends like Vikram Bhatt and John Abraham.
You did Kasoor with Vikram Bhatt and much later the enchanting Water with Deepa Mehra. How do you see your journey as an actor so far?
There’s so much talent and momentum in Bollywood now. I love watching this era of Bollywood films. I always get a few offers from Bollywood.Post-marriage once the dust settles, I will be planning my next chapter. I have been so lucky. My career was a happy accident. I didn’t plan on any of it. From becoming a super model at 16 to starring in iconic videos like Afreen Afreen to starring in feature films like Kasoor and Water and OMG and Top Chef .It’s been a beautiful trajectory.
And how would you like to take this journey forward?
I want to share my story and my adventures. A large part of my life recently has been informed by spirituality and the search for self realization. Our lives cannot be reduced to sound bites. People may not realize how much my spiritual seeking has defined my life and choices in the past few years. But I’m sure it had something to do with how I managed my cancer experience.
A slightly personal question, considering you are 40, would you be pursuing motherhood immediately after marriage?
Motherhood is on the cards, but let’s see. I want my children to be immersed in both the East and West, as I was. And yes, I’m looking forward to being a wife and being Jason’s ‘plus one’. Every woman can make a difference. Change starts with yourself and your family. Women have the power to influence society because we are the source of creation.
What are the immediate plans after the wedding?
I’m doing a walk for Multiple Myeloma with Jason just six days before our wedding. Life never ceases to amaze.
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