"No brand wanted to work with me. None of the designers, none of the brands. But it was really hard to ignore the numbers I started bringing to the table. Now I'm working with Amazon, I am working with Netflix, and there are big designers who want to work with me. There are some music companies too that have approached me. Everyone realizes that at the end of day its numbers, numbers and numbers." - Uorfi JavedY
ou can love her, you can hate her, but you certainly can't ignore her. From a television actor to one of the most talked-about content creators on social media, Uorfi Javed is like no other 25-year-old. The internet sensation is a polarising figure with fans and critics in equal measure. She doesn’t mind being trolled unlike many other content creators and influencers who find incessant trolling too much. She says, “I am going where I want to go. So it's good for me.”
While Uorfi's long-term goals include starting her own fashion and skincare lines, her short-term goals are pretty simple. She wants to stay consistent, own her mistakes, keep building the numbers and buy a Range Rover soon. She says she’s tired of being made fun of for using cabs.
In an exclusive chat with Storyboard18, Uorfi talks about her journey from being a nobody to somebody who brands want to work with today. From being shown the doors by designers to working with Amazon and Netflix, Uorfi talks about her journey, endorsements, cancel culture, gender bias and more.
Q. We know you love fashion, you love being bold and you don’t care much about the trolls - but what is the kind of brand that you are trying to build? What is Uorfi Javed's brand?
I have a vision and I am getting to it but I am not there yet. I want to be one of the biggest brands India has ever seen.
Once I have created that brand I want to make it bigger by attaching more value to it. I want to start my own clothes line and own skincare brand. I would say my journey to build brand Uorfi Javed has just begun. Q. Tell us about your journey post Bigg Boss - the journey to a follower base of 4 million on Instagram? How did you crack the number game on social media?
My journey actually started as a content creator when I came to Bombay in 2016. I was working as a television actor but that was hardly paying my bills. That’s when I saw people promoting stuff on Instagram and then I got to know that they also get paid for it. So I thought this could be a good side hustle.Also read: From 'Euphoria' to 'Emily in Paris' and 'Bridgerton': Which TV show had the biggest influence on fashion?
I thought of taking it up but it didn’t go well at that time. I was always into fashion and even more bold back then. That’s what got me the attention. It was all accidental though. Then Bigg Boss
happened and I started getting media attention. Something that was missing before. Soon after the paparazzi followed. That’s when I met my manager Sanjit Asgaonkar who also started taking care of my PR. I understood why people were giving me all the attention that I was getting and I started working on that even more. Because that’s the numbers game. Everything is about numbers. I don't care if you make fun of me. I don't care what you say about me. In the end, these numbers are going to pay my bills
So Sanjit and I embarked on this journey of making use of the numbers. I teamed up the attention with my passion for fashion and it worked wonders. My main aim right now is numbers. Be it in terms of views, followers or money.
I had around 1 million followers before Bigg Boss.
I knew what it took to grow it and I will continue working on it.Also read: Inside Bigg Boss' fandom and what brands can learn from itQ. Are you getting big endorsement deals from brands? And do you have reservations when it comes to certain categories such as liquor, mouth freshener, etc?
To be very honest six months back, no brand wanted to work with me. None of the designers, none of the brands. But it was really hard to ignore the numbers I started bringing to the table. Now I'm working with Amazon, I am working with Netflix, and there are big designers who want to work with me. There are some music companies too that have approached me. Everyone realizes that at the end of day its numbers, numbers and numbers.
As far as reservations are concerned. I do not have any around product categories. I enjoy my cocktails so I have no problem endorsing it.
Actors who did not want to promote Fair And Lovely are promoting Glow And Lovely. We know that the two products are nothing different but we are happy that it is now Glow And Lovely. So I do not want to have any such dubious principles.
I wouldn’t endorse anything that doesn’t vibe with my personality but that apart I have no reservations.Also read: Creator economy: All that glitters is not always goldQ. The fashion and entertainment industry is filled with biases - from newcomers to gender-based discrimination and even against the unconventional. Which of these battles and biases have you fought? How did you overcome them? And are biases keeping the bigger brands at bay?
There are some YouTubers who have a larger following than some actors. But brands will still go to the actors because they have an image to maintain.
I was called out for using an abuse. Brands didn’t want to work with me because my image didn’t work for their image. But brands have slowly started realizing that it’s no longer just the Bollywood celebrities who have the stardom. Consumers want people they can relate with. They are looking for relatability.
The conventional good girl and good boy image is no longer the perfect image because the moment one of these people with a conventional good person image is called out for doing something wrong they are cancelled.
So what is the use of having this image? In the end what matters is relatability. If I am relatable, brands would like me. This change has started happening and it will take some time for the biases to completely go away but it will happen for sure.
Designers didn’t want to lend me clothes because they thought I was trolling too much. But as my popularity grew they started opening up to me.
As for gender biases. It is there in every industry and fashion and entertainment is no different. What is vulgar for a woman is okay for a man. It will take time to come out of it. Things are changing. So I hope it happens soon.Also read: When the pursuit of fame runs through a Miami jailQ. You said you wanted to start your own fashion brand. Do you have a timeline?
I haven’t set myself a deadline for it. I will do it for sure but I don’t want to randomly come up with a brand for the sake of it. Whenever my brand is live it will be a sustainable fashion brand. A brand that doesn’t harm me, anyone else or the environment.Q. Social media is always changing trends. Someone who is trending today is forgotten tomorrow. Since your focus is on numbers, how do you plan to keep the growth sustainable?
I think nothing can guarantee you sustainability. There is absolutely nothing on social media that can guarantee you that. Fame can go any time. The only thing that keeps you from being forgotten is consistency. If you fail at some point trying something new do not stop. You still have to keep going. Consistency is the key to stay in fashion, in conversations and in business.Q. Do you agree with the saying 'any publicity is good publicity'?
I am Uorfi Javed so my answer is yes. I am proof of the saying. If I say no, I’ll be trolled for saying so. I am going where I want to go. So all this publicity, it's good for me.
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