Erum Azam is the girl-next-door – I mean literally! She is free-spirited, vivacious and bursting with confidence, but there is also a certain level of indecisiveness of young actors like her. When I met her during the shoot, Erum was pouring over her wardrobe. Sifting through her attaché, she took out a flowing red dress, and asked me, “Do you think this would suit? Yay or nay?” It seemed like a rhetorical question, and before I could answer, she had already decided against it.
“I don’t think it’ll look good,” she exclaimed, but then turned to me again, “what do you think?”
What was I thinking, I thought to myself and my two-second delay in answering her question had turned her favour against that red dress.
Erum is energetic and has a sense of humour, but she treads carefully when working with senior people from the acting and fashion fraternity. It’s evident from the way she communicates with Akif during the photoshoot. Nevertheless, what she has under her belt right now, is something that any starlet could ever dream to achieve. She kick-started her acting career with Maalik and although the film faced its fair share of troubles upon its release, her performance had already brought her in the radar of top production houses.
Recalling how she landed the role of Aisha in the film, and her experience of working in it, Erum says, “I auditioned for the role with many other girls, little did I know that I would bag it.”
She calls her work in Maalik, “a great learning experience” due to the experienced cast and crew involved in the film.
It’s important for actors who work hard on their craft to receive the kind of feedback one expects after giving their whole to their job, Erum spills the beans on how important it was for her to have received all the advice following her debut.
“Feedback is very important, it helps you improve. Considering this was my first movie, which was more of a learning experience for me, even then I received a stellar response.”
Keeping in mind her much talked about beginning in the world of showbiz, I ask what exactly is needed to become a famous celebrity in this profession and how much does it change one as an actor?
“In acting, it’s essential to be an open-minded person, but also someone who can retain, what makes them unique as an individual. It can be a lot of things, such as your personality, acting style and character,” she says adding, “another important factor many people overlook is intelligence. To survive in this industry, you have to be smart and understand how you progress as an actor without having to compromise on your principles, acting and personal character.”
Erum believes that many people enter the industry, lose their values and eventually end up as a different person after years of working in the fraternity.
“Fame, glamour, money and the razzmatazz of this profession changes a lot of people,” she points out.
There has been an influx of young, fresh faces in our television industry lately. From sister-duos twirling here and there to many more ingénues stepping up their game, each actor and actress has something unique to offer, eventually adding value to this craft.
So how does one survive in such a competitive business?
“I believe it’s best to be true to yourself and focus on work which matters to you, because it’s important that you enjoy what you’re doing. The rest will come itself,” Erum candidly shares.
She has not just confined herself to acting, in fact she is also known for her appearances in commercials, music videos and modelling projects alike. However, acting is what she prioritises.
“I prefer acting, as I enjoy the challenge of bringing more out of a character through emotions,” she says. However she is open to modelling projects as well because that gives her “the opportunity to travel to a lot of cool and beautiful places.”
“I get to experience and visit places where I would not normally go,” quips Erum when asked what she enjoys doing more.
The Muqabil actress would have chosen to become a stylist if not an actress. She candidly states how she loves designing and coordinating clothes to bring the best out in people.
Erum excitedly talks about her dream character based on empowering women.
“I always wanted to represent a strong woman’s character, for instance, Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Currently, I have noticed more such roles being portrayed by actresses. I’m glad, because for me there is a chance to become a part of such projects,” the aspiring actress states.
Erum, who has also appeared in several drama serials, Mehram being one of them, believes that working in a movie is relatively different from that on TV.
“Character development is very different in movies and television, comparatively. Therefore, dialogue and good storytelling becomes very important when shooting for films, as you have less time in comparison to television,” Erum says while also stating how she would still prefer acting in both, regardless. She swiftly answers when I enquire, if there is a project she can call her favourite among those that she has done so far. “I have worked in various projects and to be honest, I enjoyed all of them, otherwise, why would I partake in them?”
Born on August 8, Erum is a Leo through and through. Her taste in music is not just limited to one genre. “I like all music (genres). Everything from pop to desi to Bollywood. Recently, I have been listening to a lot of Ed Sheeran [Shape of Your Body] and Sia [Cheap Thrills],” shares the girl who claims to sleep all day in her bed, if only, she could, to unwind.
Fond of studying history and design, Erum considers herself “a good student”, and recalls being a favourite among her teachers.
She may be new to showbiz but her thirst for good work reflects in the kind of projects she has done so far, as she chooses her scripts rather carefully.
“I like unique and original scripts. These days, you need something that is unconventional, fresh and has a story that challenges the common narrative. Scripts which have good direction, and can capture the audience through dialogues, are my favourite,” Erum asserts.
“I always read scripts which have a good line and story arc. Dialogue is very important to me. Being an actor that’s one of the primary ways I can communicate and express myself, so projects with such strong elements appeal to me.”
The Gilla Kis Se Karain actress feels that the characters she portrays must hold an important position in the project and says that she is “extremely selective” as she is always looking for something “new and diverse” while choosing her work.
When it comes to making a mark in Pakistan’s show business, one must possess good looks more than their talent to succeed.
But contrary to popular opinion, Erum thinks a blend of both is what one must have.
“You need both, however, to progress as an actor, your looks matter less with time, and your ability to act and portray characters in the best possible way becomes an important element,” she shares.
“Many actors are stunning and beautiful, but they can land into pitfall, because the camera never lies. So, it’s important to challenge yourself and do your best for the audience instead of solely relying on looks.”
Erum appears to be a very private person unlike most young actresses who are comfortable flaunting the tiniest of details from their personal life. So how does she balance both, her personal and professional life?
“By keeping them separate and spending personal time with family,” she says disclosing the only regret she has with life, “I just wish my father was here to experience my success, love and support.”
Her love for her father is evident, as he is someone whose qualities she would want in that special someone. “My ideal man would be someone, who is like my father – a loyal, kind and caring individual,” she says listing the qualities she looks for.
Following her innocent looks and kind demeanour one is forced to ask if she has ever had a crazy fan encounter? “I have a lot of fans, some crazy and some not so crazy, but regardless of that I love them all, as they are my fans and support me,” she gushingly exclaims.
The quirky actor has a waistline to die for. When asked the secret behind her well-maintained figure, she says, “It’s important to eat correctly and maintain a steady diet.
“I have to work long hours on set, and sometimes, I don’t get time to exercise, however, I always go for a walk, as its important if you don’t have enough time to work out. So eat properly and walk, is something I advise,” she says spilling the beans on her slender physique.
Talking about her plans for the next five years, Erum is looking forward to work on new characters, she declares this while stating, “I want to represent Pakistani actors around the world and focus on becoming the best actor,” says the quirky thespian who is currently involved in exciting projects wishing that her fans love her work in the future.
Something that keeps you going through the day?
Something you cannot live without?
My phone :D
What is the most important thing in your life?
Lollywood, Bollywood or Hollywood?
I like all three.
Your favourite TV show?
Your favourite movie?
Are you a shopaholic?
Yes, BIG TIME!
What is your favourite book?
The Jungle Book.
The scariest moment?
Most memorable moment?
There are many!
You’re most nervous when?
When I have exams – I hate exams!
First celebrity crush?
Your motto in life?
Do what you want to do to be happy!
A message for your fans?
I love you all! Thanks for supporting. I will always give in my best for you guys.
Make-up & Photography: Akif Ilyas