1 One of your many credits and accomplishments are exceeded by your philanthropic contributions as founder of ‘DKU Kindness Diaries Charitable Trust’ Now that it has been registered and running for well of a year, how would describe your individual experience of your established charity trust?
When I moved to Mumbai, India in 2010 from the UK, seeing the poverty was extremely shocking for me. As time went by I started to understand the social structure of india and understand how people living in poverty survive. I decided I wanted to help in some way. I started to donate a percentage of my earnings to buy families I had met in India their food and essential needs. As my time went on in India I decided I wanted to do more and set up my own charity trust. I waited until the time was correct in my life to start the charity. I wanted to start it when finances where good in my own life and also when I felt at the best place in my life to be able to dedicate a large amount off time to the charity. I researched how to set up a charity and learnt it requires a lot of hard work, dedication, support from good people that also believe in the cause, a strong team, selfinessness, passion and also a good business mind to be able to sustain the charity and make sure donations are spent in the correct way. It took me 8 months to register the charity, it was a very difficult process to do in india, it required many politicians signatures and piles of paper work to be completed. I set up a office in Jaipur and built a strong team of now 10 people. I decided to name the trust Kindness Diaries as I want the charitys main focus to be that we all should just be kind to each other. Kindness can solve so many problems in the world.
2 What contributions and donations do you provide to those in need?
We do daily food distributions to over 100 families a week. We provide educational classes and tutoring to a number of children. Every few months we have an event for the familes and for the people that have helped and supported the charity. In the last few months, covid has struck India hard. Oxygen machines where less and in need urgently. We purchased oxygen machines from Dubai and shipped them to india. The kindness diaries team went out and gave the machines to patients that required the oxygen. I am so proud off the team and their hard work in this difficult time as by providing these machines and medical supplies it saved many peoples lives. My role at the moment is making sure donations are coming in, making sure donations are been distributed and spent in the best way, marketing and pr of the charity, looking after the staff and also keeping in contact with the families we are helping. I am always trying to think off new ways to help people as I believe the best way to help people is by making them independent. At the moment we are setting up a small work place to provide people work.
3 Describe the moment of distribution to those in desperate need of daily essentials?
We do different distributions such as food, educational supplies distributions and clothing. I do enjoy doing this on ground level but at the same time I do feel a deep sense of sadness as I see the level off poverty and how bad it really is close up.
4 Are there any valuable lessons you have found whilst upholding a charity trust?
I have learnt Many different lessons from running kindness diaries this past year. Firstly it is very important to keep the team that works with us motivated and happy. With a strong team more is possible. I strongly believe that ground work photos must be shown on social media etc to show people where money has been spent but also it has to be done in a classy way so peoples integerty has not been exploited. I always see other charities not actually showing real ground work images and proof off there work and simply just making flyers. I wanted kindness diaries to always show in detail what we are doing and how. I have learnt it is important to help people but we must always concentrate more on how to make people independent.
5 Last year you supported the ‘Sikh Toy Appeal’ how was it like to work alongside another charity to support such a noble cause?
When I saw Sikh Toy Appeals work which is providing toys for children that cant afford new toys I had the idea that we should do this for children in india also. Myself and the kindness diaries team distributed many toys for the children and honestly it was one of the best days off my life. Seeing the excitement and happiness in the children faces when reciving the toys was amazing. We distributed in different locations such as orphanages and slum areas.
6 You recently organised an event for ‘International Women’s Day which was very admirable and encouraging to so many individuals, what advice would you give to empower women all over the world?
Last International Womans day I went to a government school in Jaipur to Meet the young female students from difficult and poor backgrounds. It was so lovely to see that even though they are living in difficult circumstances they kept up their determination to study and was trying to achieve their dreams of improving their life. I met the girls to give them encouragement and support to continue to study. I am from a very small family, it is just me and mother. So I learnt from a very young age the importance of being independent. For me Womans day is a day for women to be proud of their achevements and to recognise we can accomplish just as equally as what a man can do.
7 We hear you have a black belt in karate, did that inspire you for the ‘International Women’s Day’ event?
I went to karate for 13 years and gained my black belt. I think karate made me become more disciplined and taught me to be very determined in life but no it did not inspire the woman day event
8 How can the readers and followers support & / or make donations to DKU Kindness Diaries Charitable Trust?
You can follow us on our instagram page – @kindnessdiariestrust or on facebook – Kindness Diaries DKU Charitable Trust if you would like to donate you can message on social media and we will let you know how to donate
1 You have had many consistent fashion & cover shoots as a model, having started as a model at the age of 16 how has the industry differed from then to the now present?
I feel the Industry now has improved as its more diverse . Now there is catorgaries for models that are plus size, darker skin models are now being selected more in india and also now there is a huge demand for instagram influencers. When I began modelling there was hardly any social media and the typical model had to be a size 8 or below. I also feel now more asians have entered the modelling industry as where 15 years ago it was more of a taboo.
2 What importance do the titles Miss India UK 2012 hold to you and did they help as a stepping stone to your career
It holds an importance to me because it is an achievement that I will always remember and it did help me gain status especially in Mumbai. However even though I won the title, I never believe that I am better then anyone else because off that. Pagents can be a confidence crusher for the girls that didn’t win. Its important to look at a pagent as an experience and confidence builder.
3 You are currently in Dubai and been shooting there, How has the experience been modelling in Dubai?
So surprisingly in Dubai I have been getting a lot of work for arabic brands. Ive been shooting in abayas and head scarfs which has been nice and something new for me. I recently shot for a huge arabic make up brand Mikyaj I’m really excited for that campaign to release. Overall I’ve really enjoyed modelling in Dubai and I feel my look is more liked here.
Film & TV:
2 You directed, produced and hosted your very own documentary ‘India’s Forgotten People’, how did you find doing all three roles?
I always wanted to get into documentary filmmaking and even studied film making at London Film Academy. I had learnt how to make films from being on sets of when I was acting to when I was directing music videos. I decided I wanted to make a film where I was fully in control of everything from the shooting to the release. The only way to do this was to become the producer as well as the director. Shooting this documentary was the hardest project I’ve worked on up until now. I went to the villages in Rajasthan for one year and shot with my small team off 6 people. It was the most difficult film to shoot but also the most rewarding.
- How accomplished do you feel having the titles of ‘Host’, ‘Producer’ & ‘Director’, would you consider others aspects of cinema such as cinematography
I do feel proud that I managed to do these three roles and get a good film completed and for it to be sold. Through out the process I had to plan everything from finances, hiring the crew, the story line of the film, the editing and also the distribution. Being a first time film maker and taking on so many roles was a challenge, but I am so happy how the film came out and also that the film has been sold to amazing high viewership channels.
2 Where can we watch Indias forgotten people?
So at the moment the film is being circulated on different TV channels such as discovery channel asia, National Geo India, Deutsche Welle – Europe and many more. After the TV rounds are done it will then go on to online platforms such as Netflix. You can follow my page on instagram for updates on tv showing times
3 India’s Forgotten People, what does it mean for Deana?
Indias Forgotten People for me is about a special unique nomadic community surviving in Rajasthan with an amazing history. The community we shot are the Gaddia Lohars. They are a nomadic community travelling around Rajasthan with out any government help. They do not wish to live in a house or be settled. They live in a unique was with keeping tradions from centuries ago. I spent a lot off time with the community whilst shooting the film and learnt they are very kind welcoming people.
6 For upcoming movies and documentary what would be your number 1 do and don’t?
For my next documentary I have learnt the most important aspect is the planning. For my next documentary I will try to plan the story arch before shooting the film, where as in Indias forgotten people I shot the content first and then decided on the story arch. This made the editing process double as long as it should have. Its also very important to understand the target audience so then you know where to pitch your film for sales when complete. When starting a film its important to get a strong crew from DOP, to producers to the runner boys as everyones role is important in making the film a success. If there is one weak link it can effect the whole films outcome.
10 What are you hoping for the audience feel when watching this documentary?
I want the audience to come away from the film with the feeling they have gained a lot off interesting knowledge on a community they before knew nothing about.
11 You have a excellent level of education, so beauty and brains as you proudly have a degree in PR & marketing along with education with the impressive London Film School. You have also featured in theatre (Annie), number of features including British film/s and an impressive academic history including a number performing arts schools, do you feel your earlier experiences taught you valuable lessons in the film industry?
I moved to mumbai alone at the age of 22 after university. Now looking back I feel it was to early to move to Mumbai and I wish I had waited until I was a little older and understood the world more. Mumbai is a difficult city to survive in and it made me grow up fast. Growing up with only my mother taught me how to be street start and savvy. I began working at the age of 16 – My experience with working from a young age helped me in India.
12 What is next for you in your film career and what else are you working on now?
My next project will be to produce and get my script made into a film. It is a thriller based in India. I also plan to make more documentaries. Along side my film work I have a few businesses that keep me always busy.
1 You have many TV experiences both in the UK & internationally, you starred in Big Brother, Fear Factor (Khatron Ke Khiladi), The Taste of Asia to name a few. How did you feel about just how understanding and accepting the public would be to you and how have you now managed to maintain just a strong attitude over the years in your career
When I entered Big Brother I always thought I would end up leaving the show maybe after the second or third week max. But to get to the final and survive so many evictions was a really lovely feeling. I broke the record of surviving the most amount of evictions in the history of big brother! I never expected that but Im happy the audience saw I was being genuine. Now with social media everyone gets judged so fast, I now try to keep my private life off social media and just post about mostly projects I am working on and a little bit of my daily life and routine.
Fitness / Health:
1 You enjoy a variety of exercises & activities such as mountain climbing, sky diving, cycling and yoga. Have you always been this active?
I started karate at the age of 6 and went for 12 years. I gained my blackbelt. This set me from a early age to enjoy sports. I love any activity outdoor and everywhere I travel to I try to incorporate fitness activities.
2 How do you maintain such fantastic shape and fitness?
It is actually very difficult for me to maintain my shape as I love eating sweets. I can not get through out the day without eating a chocolate bar! So to balance my sweet tooth and stay in shape I have to work out a lot. I work out with my trainer 3 times a week, I run 10km once a week and also go to boxing classes.
3 Do you feel these activities can help improve your emotional and mental well bring, if so how?
Excerise is definitely important for improving mental health. Excersie can help to us to feel better about our selfs and more motivated.
4 For those who are extremely busy what do you recommend to incorporate on daily basis in regards of developing a health lifestyle
I think at least everyone should make time for at least 2 hours off exercise a week minimum. Even if its a fast walk or a weights session. Try to walk whenever possible instead of taking the lift or driving. When going to work take the stairs. All this added movement helps and adds up. I find having a fitness watch helps also, you can track your steps in the day.
Travel & Fashion:
2 Which country are you currently residing in and how are adapting?
At the moment I am residing in Dubai because off the bad situation in India. However I still have a base in London. I always used to avoid Dubai and found it very superficial and fake when I used to visit. However I’ve learnt living here is different. There is so much to do here and its a very safe country to live.
5 From the various destinations you have visited which would be in your top 3?
For holidays I love Maldives – I go with my mother every year.
I love Greece to go with friends
I also loved Cape Town its very beautiful
6 Has lockdown restricted travel for you?
Lockdown and covid really changed a lot in my life. Because off covid I moved away from Mumbai and shifted to Dubai – a country I never ever thought I would move too. I have had to cancel many travel plans but I feel lockdown made me more settled by forcing me to stay in one place for a long time where as before covid I was travelling monthly.
7 You have always maintained as an independent woman who have worked hard for whats she has achieved, you have essentially managed yourself from obtaining work, travel to fashion. Do you find it easy to put together a look for work (meetings, events, etc)
I actually don’t find it easy. People presume I must love keeping up to date with fashion etc, but I actually hate shopping and mostly just wear trainers and sports wear daily. I am a very simple person but I guess on social media it dosent look that way as photos are only posted when I’m dressed up. I always try to take inspiration from online and what I see others wear. I wish I had a stylist with me daily to help me choose my clothes!
9 Are you one to offer fashion tips & travel explorations, if so we may just take you up on it because your recent Dubai looks have been very chic & stylish
Yes I love to share what I have learnt from exploring myself. I would recommend for anyone traveling to Dubai to do things other then the typical restaurants and clubs. There are amazing hikes out of Dubai, natural beaches in places like Rak and Fujurah with is about an hour away from Dubai.
Business / Property:
1 What does DKU World comprise of and how do you feel having your own brand created solely by yourself?
I created DKU world as a way off putting my businessss into one. I am currently working in a few different sectors and diversified to investing in different sectors such as beauty, property and manufacturing.
2 What motivated you to step into the business field and what has been the hardest and easier aspects of building your own business
Even though movies was my passion I realised that my main strength was actually business. I realised I had to concentrate on what I was good at and build a income stream so I could live comfortably. I think its very important to reconigize your strengths and weaknesses and be realistic with your self, even if it means changing your path in life.
1 There is not doubt you are a fearless and independent person, you have experienced and spoke of the troubles you faced in both personal and work life. Many readers and followers experience those subjects that you have spoke on in the past and there is real sense of empathy and understanding developing in the world, what advice would you give regards of the importance of mental health and its awareness?
I feel its important to take time and recognise how you are feeling everyday. If you feel down and sad don’t egnore it. Sit alone and think where are the feelings coming from and work to heal it. I think when you try to ignore your feelings they can multiply and become worse. When I came out of big brother I drifted into severe depression and didn’t leave my home for 6 months, it was only when I made the decision my self to heal my self I was able to slowly recover.
3 You’ve unfortunately experienced racism and bullying in your life and can relate to a a trauma of that kind, how did you cope with this type of behaviour and actions?
For me my strength has always come from by believing in god. I have felt alone in life a lot with not having a supporting family and being a single girl attracts many negative people with bad intentions. But my strength has come from always knowing god is protecting me and believing in karma.
6 You’ve been an advocate for female empowerment, you present this well from your charity work events to the self developed attitude of striving to work as hard as one can to attain the success they dream of, you shared a very sorrowful and intimate part of your life revealing your father passed away when you were only 1. Do you remember any struggles growing up and how would you describe the bond between your mother & yourself
I am extremely close with my mother as it has always been just me and her. I try to get her to travel with me and have been able to take her to amazing countries that she had never got the chance to travel too. Growing up had its challenges as mother was unable to work and was a single mother, the external family did not offer any support either. However all this just made me stronger and into the person I am today.
7 Do you feel having your mother raise you and support you immensely impacted your vision for female empowerment and means to further yourself?
My mother always taught me to be independent from a very young age. I think is what has enabled me to live successfully alone in different countries.
1 Do you have any future projects or ideas in the pipeline?
I am now working on getting a script I have wrote made into a film. I will continue to expand Kindness Diaries Trust