The cool kids: 'Class' actor Ayesha Kanga on evolving but also staying true to who she is

Basking in the success of Netflix's 'Class' the actor speaks to Cosmpolitan India about her new-found fame, her evolution as a person, who inspires her, her personal style and the things that no one knows about her. 

01 June, 2023
The cool kids: 'Class' actor Ayesha Kanga on evolving but also staying true to who she is

In an exclusive interview, Class actor Ayesha talks about being her fierce, authentic self, living life on her own terms, and viewing fame from a wiser lens.

Cosmo India: How different is life post the release of Class (2023)?

Ayesha Kanga: I am far busier than usual, and now, life feels like a coin with two sides. And while I have better access to institutions and resources that I’ve always looked up to, privacy does not exist for me anymore. Whenever I enter a room, people already know things about me... It feels strange and new.

CI: Did you, in any way, alter your personality to fit into the industry?

AK: Fortunately, people appreciate me for being different. I don’t look or sound like everyone else, and I believe that is what sets me apart. I have never had to alter my personality to meet the standards of the film industry—and changing any aspect of my personality is something I’d never resort to... I wouldn’t have come this far if I didn’t embrace myself. Besides, it is something people don’t need to do anymore, which I believe is great.


CI: How do you view fame now?

AK: Fame is great, because it allows me to pursue my passion. But it’s also tedious work, because one needs to make sacrifices in order to be seen or heard. As a result, it can get physically and mentally draining. Today, more than ever, I have respect for those who have managed to sustain a life under the limelight...Doing that with such poise and grace is not easy, but it makes me believe that I can do it, too.

CI: Did you always want to be an actor?

AK: Funnily enough, I never wanted to be an actor. In fact, I wanted to be a graphic designer and an artist. Acting was never on my radar, until I watched Made in Heaven (2019). That show truly changed my made me believe in cinema, and that there was a place for me in the Indian film industry. While pursuing my degree at the National School of Design, I took a brief hiatus and began modelling—that’s where my stint with acting began.

CI: How do you fill your creative well?

AK: I think I can never fully fill my creative well, because even when I am working on a project, I find myself distracted by other ideas and concepts that I wish to execute. And even when a project finishes, I feel some things could have been done differently. You know, I think one never really finishes a project, you just abandon the current one and move on to the next... But presently, I am having a good time. I am doing what I want to do, and I have more access to the resources I want—and that is really exciting.

CI: What do you keep in mind when you have to creatively express yourself in front of the camera?

AK: In order to be able to express myself as creatively as possible, I need to be conscious of my surroundings. As long as I have a sound understanding of what is happening around me, I am able to surrender myself on-screen. For instance, when it comes to acting, if we have the right kind of team, it’s easier for me to understand and empathise with the character I am going to play. 

CI: How have you evolved as a person?

AK: If you asked me this question three months ago, I’d offer a very crisp answer. A while ago, I used to think that I was more evolved, emotionally intelligent, and settled in my skin. But now, life has taken a 180-degree turn, and it’s a lot harder to answer this question. I might be smarter and less attached to everything around me—which means I am still evolving and a work in progress... And if you ask me this question again, I’d again give you a very different answer.

CI: How are you so unapologetically yourself?

AK: I’m the only person that I know how to be; I find it difficult to not be ridiculously sincere. Whenever I am presented with a situation—and whether I choose to deal with it emotionally or with a casual mindset—I find it challenging to not be true to how I feel, or what I think. In the film industry, I have realised that people find this quality to be valuable, because of how everyone expects one to behave in a certain manner. Many have sent me DMs on Instagram, appreciating me for being myself, which feels nice. And that is why I say thisagain, I have come this far only because I chose to be my real self. I have no reason to believe that a person needs to be anyone but themselves.

CI: Tell us who inspires you...

AK: My mother—because she is so kind, fierce, brave, and strong. She is so sincere, and chooses to live her best life. She believes that I can be whoever I want to be, and not only does she instil these values in me, but I also witness her living life on her own terms.


CI: How would the people closest to you describe you?

AK: They’d say I am an introvert who is stubborn, and probably the funniest person they have ever met (laughs). That said, my friends would also describe me as someone who is extremely honest, cannot keep secrets, but is a good human who doesn’t intend to harm anyone.

CI: Tell us one thing no one knows about you...

AK: If I ever had my way, I’d just stay at home with my cats and rest all day long. I absolutely love chilling and doing nothing at gives me immense joy and pleasure.

CI: How would you describe your personal style?

AK: My personal sense of style does not have a middle ground. You’d either spot me in a pulled-back, high ponytail, or in a very snatched make-up look with bold cat eyeliner. Or, you’d see me in a baggy t-shirt and shorts... I also enjoy wearing latex or leather gloves, geometric cuts, prints, and bold hues. There is no inbetween, you know? It’s either too comfortable, or is so annoying, to the point where it gets unbearable to spend an evening in the very outfit I have styled.

CI: Tell us about where you see yourself in the next few years…

AK: The next few years look very exciting! Hopefully, the time ahead will bring me more of what I desire. I want to focus more on acting and fashion projects. I love fashion, art, and acting... And hopefully, I will be able to combine all three elements in a more seamless and cohesive manner in the future.

CI: Tell us why diverse voices are important in spearheading culture…

AK: Diverse voices are crucial for spearheading culture because they bring unique perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the table. By including people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and gender, we foster a richer—and more inclusive—cultural landscape. I truly believe voices from across play a vital role in fostering innovation, promoting authenticity, and empowering underrepresented groups, which, in turn, drives social progress.

Outfit courtesy: 
Image 1 - On Ayesha Kanga: Allover print bodysuit, adidas Adventure Nature Awakening Cargo Pants, Parley Mid Crew Socks, ftw: adidas Rivalry Low 86 Shoes, all adidas

Image 2 - On Anuv: Adicolor Neuclassics Sweatpants, Adicolor Neuclassics Windbreaker, Samba Vegan Shoes, Performanced cushioned mid-cut socks, all adidas; On Kayan: Dungarees, rib tank top, and Gazelle Shoes, all adidas; On Shantanu: Rekive Woven Jacket, Adicolor Classics Lock Up Trefoil 
Trackpants, Monogram Thin Crew Socks, Ftw: adidas Superstar Shoes, all adidas; On Anjali: Long sleeve bodysuit, Always Original Adibreak Pants, and Forum Low Shoes, all adidas; On Ayesha: Corset, Firebird Faux Leather Track Pants, and Forum Low Shoes, all adidas

Shoot credits: 
Photographs: Chandrahas Prabhu; Styling: Pranay Jaitly & Shounak Amonkar; Make-up: Krisann Figueiredo; Hair: Rakshanda Irani; Videographer: 
Ratnakar Dave; Production: P. Productions; Fashion Assistants: Shubham Jawanjal and Chaitanya Balvant