As we are observing International Women’s Day today, yesteryear actress Manya Naidu exclusively speaks to ETimes, about the strongest woman in her life, and three key messages she wants to share with women across the globe.
“My maternal grandma is the woman who has inspired me the most. She was a strong lady. In fact, one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. She was married at 14, had 13 children of which only seven survived. And then my grandpa met with an accident and she took care of the entire family. She had the determination to live life, no matter what,” Manya Naidu shared.
The actress also recalls her childhood days when she used to come to Chennai to visit her grandmother. “The most interesting thing about grandma is that even after all her children grew up and were on their own, she believed that she had duties to be fulfilled. Every year, when we visit her during summers, I would see her cooking Pulihora in our backyard. She would pack them into small bags and take them to the nearby slum or orphanages. I would accompany her in the cycle rickshaws and children would come running once they catch a sight of grandma. We both would distribute those packages and she would chat with them and treat them like she treated me. She did it every day without a fail. I think seeing her while growing up moulded me into the person I am today,” Manya Naidu said, walking down the memory lane.
Manya Naidu has had her own share of struggles while growing up including dropping out of school, after her father’s demise, and venturing into the showbiz to look after her family. After starring in over 4o films in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada cinema, the actress went on to pursue the academic path. Today, she is in New York, working as an auditor. The actress has a successful career and a happy family.
Manya Naidu also opens up about the three key thoughts she wants to share with women on this special occasion. “The best thing a woman could do for herself is being emotionally and financially independent. Educated or not, every woman should be financially independent. If I wasn’t educated, I know to cook, and I would have made sandwiches for a living. Because it is very important for a woman to be independent,” she said.
Manya also emphasized the importance of tearing down gender-specific roles, “Raise your son like you raise your daughter. If you are teaching your daughter to do the vessels, teach your son too. It is important to make them self-sufficient and we should also take care not to push them into gender-based roles.”
The actress also pointed out that sisterhood is quintessential. “It’s high time that we women should support each other. Instead of gossiping about each other and betraying let’s embrace them. I am fortunate to have Samyuktha Varma as a friend, she has supported me throughout my life and I care about her as well. Let’s be more compassionate about our fellow women!” the actress signed off.