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Taking the Desert by Storm – Sheron Nanayakkara-Loftus

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Dubai is a melting hot pot of the Middle East. The burgeoning city considered one of the most populous city’s in Western Asia, with its confluence of cultures, beliefs and ethnic groups’ draws scores of people from around the world on a daily basis. As one states, “In Dubai, one could be hob knobbing with the likes of Justin Bieber or Shakira or many other celebrities”. It is also considered a rarity for Asians, namely Sri Lankans, to be caste into the limelight as positions of popularity or celebrity status are often afforded to a selected few who are from Western or mixed lineage.

Hailing from the intense competitiveness of the desert is Sheron Nanayakkara Loftus who has literally taken the desert by storm, due to her popularity in the celebrity circles of Dubai. Many assume that Sheron has a foreign connection as to identify her as one hundred percent Sri Lankan raises a number of eyebrows as she is truly awe-inspiring. Her story, which has gained prominence, reached us prior to her departure to Dubai after having spent her vacation in Sri Lanka.

She is first and foremost a Presenter , Media personality, Model and much more, having interviewed a number of A-list personalities from Ricky Martin, The Singing Dentist, Welsh rugby player Mike Phillips, Producer RedOne, BoyzLife with Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy, the CEO of the Dubai Duty Free and others. She forayed into her career path by chance but remained so by choice due to her innate ability to draw people through merely her voice as part of her repertoire. Currently, she is one of the most popular Asian, female media personalities, challenging the status quo in the desert as the epitome of the ‘survival of the fittest’

Are you living your dream?

I always dreamt of reaching greater heights in my career, but I didn’t think it was going to be as good as it has been, or didn’t know other avenues will open up for me by simply following my dream. So I would rephrase this and say that I never dreamed of reaching this point in my life and the truth is that I am living well beyond my dreams.

What were your childhood aspirations?

I was always drawn to presenting. Even as a child I used to pretend I was interviewing someone or presenting groundbreaking news. The idea of being in front of the camera or microphone did not seem daunting as I enjoyed it immensely. It was a natural trait which I reveled in.

What do you feel about being the first ever Sri Lankan in the region to reach this unprecedented milestone in your career?

It is a privilege that comes with a responsibility as I am not only an individual, but I am a Sri Lankan, representing our country and raising it from the stereotype. Many in the region have a pre-conceived notion about Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans, but I have strived to nullify this bias, while showing them that we as Sri Lankans are a people of culture, value, traditions with a wealth of talents and an extremely unique voice.

Why did you opt to live and work in Dubai?

Once again it was a spur of the moment decision made several years back to break from the mould and explore a new path. It has always been an uphill climb as I was literally on my own with no friends or family in a strange land but I was determined to carve my own identity and walk away from my comfort zone.

How did your modeling career begin?

I started with a few photoshoots in Dubai, which led me to pursue it professionally. I absolutely love being in front of the camera, why not get paid for it? I do have a few projects lined up for the next few months that I am really excited about.

Other than a flourishing modeling career, you’ve told us that you are also a college graduate with a degree in Psychology. What pushed you in that direction?

Along with media, it’s a subject I’ve always had an interest in. Mental Health has always been seen as a sort of taboo topic. It’s a subject that’s still wiped under the carpet and considering how many people I communicate with, I wanted to make a difference even in the smallest way possible. I am uncertain if I will further my career in psychology, but it has helped me understand day to day life better.

What would you like to be remembered for?

That I started from the very bottom to get where I am at today, and regardless of the challnges I faced along the way, I never gave up on my dream.

I hear you also have your own youtube channel, how did you come up with that?

I have reached great heights career-wise but I have always wanted to do something on my own for myself. I realised that no matter what company I worked for I wouldn’t have the freedom to follow my own pursuits.  So, this was my way of having it all. I have interviewed the CEO of Dubai Duty Free, one of the 100 most influential people in the World. My love for cricket has led me to interview one of my all-time heroes, Roshan Mahanama. I’ve also interviewed Farveez Maharoof and Percy Abeysekara. My first interview focused on the UAE Women’s Cricket Team. I still believe that I have many more opportunities to interview such amazing personalities which will add value to my corporate profile.

What’s the strangest thing a fan has ever done for you?

I don’t know if it’s strange or sweet, but a listener once gave me a gold ring with my initials engraved on it as a birthday gift.

What would be a good theme song for your life?

Frank Sinatra – My Way

What would you say is your biggest achievement?

I see it as my job to be a role model for all those aspiring to work in media one day. If I can look back and know I have inspired at least one child to follow their dreams no matter what life throws at them, then that would be my greatest achievement.

What inspirational advice can you offer to your audience?

I wouldn’t say this is for my audience per se but anyone in general: Follow your dreams, and believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Speak up for what you believe in, and don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.

The pioneers of yore were fearless in their quest to leave their legacy in the foreign lands they discovered. They did not even have the advantage of modern technology and that is the spirit which is imbued in Sheron- a fearless and adventurous spirit which cannot be quelled until she reaches the pinnacle. She has beaten the odds and restraints at all levels and conquered an unconquerable land in pursuit of her goals.

Follow her inspirational journey on Youtube – Sheron Loftus

By Rochelle Palipnae Gunaratne

Photography By Sidath Wanaguru

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