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Ayushi Chhabra is a full-time storyteller – an actor, performer and model. And we can lay claim to this LA stunner who made South Africans proud when she debuted on American television in Star Trek. Yup – she’s one of the few South African Indian women to be featured in such a legendary franchise. She tells GH writer Ondela Mlandu about the journey.

Before the lights, camera, action…

Ayushi was born in India, but spent her childhood in Nigeria and moved to South Africa with her family at 13. She grew up in Bedfordview and Edenvale, then went on to study broadcast journalism at Rhodes University.

“I was 24 when I moved to the United States – by myself,” says Ayushi. “Living halfway across the world, away from your family, comes with its own set of mental and emotional challenges, in addition to the struggle of settling in a new country, hustling to land good acting jobs and making ends meet. It took five years for me to get to a comfortable place financially, mentally and emotionally in my career, but it was all worth it.”

READ MORE: Everything You Need To Know About Living And Working Abroad

On figuring out what sets you apart…

“If you want to get into any industry, whether it’s entertainment, media or any other field – it’s important to study your market inside and out, and figure out how you can contribute to it,” says Ayushi. “What can you bring to it that has never been done before? What sets you apart? Most importantly, sharpen your skills. The more you do something, the better you get at it and the more experience you have. Experience is attractive – that’s what people want to work with.”

On taking a seat at the table…

We live in a world where Kamala Harris is the vice-president of the U.S. and she is an example of the fact that no matter which industry you are in, you can be the one to break the glass ceiling.

READ MORE: “I Met Danai Gurira — And She Gave Me Career Advice. I’m Still Shaking.”

“In the entertainment business, I see more and more women taking charge, creating content, pushing their narratives and empowering other women to do the same. We are definitely headed in the right direction – better late than never,” says Ayushi.

Use these life lessons to empower yourself…

1/ Build up your resilience and willpower.

When things get tough, stop and take a break, but don’t give up. “This is your pursuit of ‘happyness’ and you are the Will Smith of your movie – if you give up in the early stages and don’t build a rock-solid foundation, how will you grow and prosper? So just have laser focus and keep your eye on the prize,” says Ayushi.

2/ Don’t make excuses – just get the job done and do it to the best of your ability.

“Excuses are lousy; [they’re] a reflection of bad work ethic and inefficiency. If you want to be memorable, take your work seriously, be extremely good at it through sincere hard work and consistent practice, and never make excuses,” she says.

3/ Let us empower each other’s talents and strengths – not just in the professional world, but at home too.

“Let’s be the mothers, daughters and sisters who recognise each other’s hidden talents and dreams, and let us push each other to pursue those. It all starts at home,” she says.

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