Anjali Lama is transitioning — in more ways than one. The 32-year-old, who was born as a boy in Nepal, is on her way to becoming a woman. And she couldn’t have asked for a more feminine platform than the Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2017 to celebrate. The model from Nepal will be the first ever transgender to grace the runway of this fashion spectacle. After years of rejection and scorn for her identity, the offers are now flowing in. There’s already a film made about Lama’s struggle, titled Anjali: Living Inside Someone Else’s Skin that will be out in September this year. The spotlight grows brighter. But Anjali, who is just settling in to the crazy pace of her new home in Mumbai, has her focus on one place and nowhere else — the head of the ramp.
Take note. Lessons from a transgender on how to grab life by the reins.
Being selected for LFW is huge. What’s running through your mind right now?
All my energies are focussed towards making the best from all the mentoring that I will get from the industry stalwarts. I am sure this platform is going to take me places.
Your original name was Nabin Waiba. What made you decide on the name Anjali Lama?
My community decided to give me this name. The thought of going closer to my truth and real-self gave me courage to embrace this change. I have always listened to my heart and would request everyone to do the same.
Ironically, we hear that modelling was never on your mind back in the day.
If my friends in college hadn’t suggested it, I would probably be in Kathmandu right now working in my community and earning my livelihood. I feel blessed that I relentlessly chased what I set out to do.
Growing up in Nepal must be a stark contrast to the craziness of Mumbai, where you are based now.
In all its craziness, Mumbai has taught me to be extremely strong and showered me with immense love. The change this city has brought about in my outlook towards my profession is beyond me. I have joined an agency to strengthen my portfolio.
Being a model by itself can take a toll on your self-confidence. As a transgender model — what was it like in the early days?
It was very difficult for me, as my family did not support my decision. Although, with my achievements now, they are slowing growing to accept it.
My early years in Nuwakot were a period of self-contemplation coupled with self-doubt, under the immense pressure of societal sexual standards. I was a boy but my behaviour was always questioned under the rules of gender stereotypes. But years later, the most disturbing thing to hear was being rejected for being a ‘transgender’.
I would love to volunteer towards social awareness for people like me in the community, once I am sorted here in Mumbai.
You have a documentary Anjali: Living Inside Someone Else’s Skin coming out in September. Can you share with us what we can look forward to?
This movie is a vivid description of our (transgenders) struggle and reflects strongly on cultural apprehensions of our acceptance. It
perfectly draws my journey of transformation from Nabin to Anjali.
Do you have a New Year resolution?
No resolutions (giggles). Resolutions are always broken, so I don’t make them.
— Sonali Shenoy