What was the reaction to changing your name spelling three times?
First it was Alia, then Alaya with an ‘i’ and finally Alaya. All in two years. First, I was such a big fan of Alia’s that I wanted to have my own identity and the second one was confusing people! My parents thought I was mad, though mom did help me get in touch with a numerologist. By the third time, they were like, ‘Listen, what are you doing?’ Ditto with my friends. And changing your spelling if you have a verified account is a whole new ball game on social media.
One superstition you don’t believe in and one you follow to the T…?
If a black cat crosses the road, you have to wait for someone else to pass! I mean, so many successful people have black cats as pets.
I have a habit of saying ‘touch wood’ non-stop, no matter where I am, aggressively knocking my head each time. My friends keep asking me to stop, or I’ll have a dent on my head!
What was your social media debut like and how has it evolved?
Facebook, when I was 9, when an older cousin made it as a joke. It was boring because no one I knew was on it yet! Instagram was a big game changer because you had random people watching your content, not just people you knew or friends of friends like on Facebook. And now there are so many platforms with so many things like reels – I still have a hard time keeping up with social media. There are so many elements that you find yourself obsessing over. But I enjoy it and even do most of my shopping via Instagram!
The best way to deal with trolls and “heroes” who slide into DMs…?
It’s hard at times but it’s best to just ignore them. And these men sliding into DMs is something that happens to every girl. There’s a distinct way all these aashiqs write. The funniest is how they start with statements like, ‘You are my life, my baby boo’, and when you don’t respond, becomes ‘who do you think you are, you can go and die’, in a span of three days.
How important is the number of followers on social media really?
The number of followers matter in collaborations with brands and film promotions – brands require you to be on social media. A lot of people fail to realise that we make so much of our living through social media.
How has the idea of fame changed for you from when your mother made her debut?
Earlier, celebs weren’t as accessible – you would only see their pictures in magazines. Today, everyone has access to everything. But getting famous was a different concept also because there’s no god-like exclusivity, which also won’t work in today’s relatable-driven world. Fame is so easy to achieve today – one video to catapult you to the top. But you are also replaceable as holding onto that fame is hard. Whereas earlier, it was difficult to get famous but easier to hold onto it.
Does every good actor have 50k followers today?
They should, but you never know. I’ve been shocked when I’ve visited someone’s profile after falling in love with their performance to see that even great actors have little social media following. But people follow what they find interesting. So, if you aren’t putting up content, you won’t have followers. You can still be successful without followers, though.
And a mantra to deal with rejection?
That everything happens for a reason, even if you can’t make sense of it at the moment. And the whole people not believing or having faith in me gets me all charged up and I have the, ‘I’ll show all of you,’ spirit!
Read the HT Brunch Cover Story penned by Alaya F
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From HT Brunch, October 18, 2020
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