Profession: Actress, model and TV host
The vehicle: 2013 Range Rover
- Received a Diamond Jubilee Medal in May
- Philanthropic efforts include being an ambassador for Pantene Beautiful Lengths ad campaign in 2012 and Plan Canada’s “Because I Am A Girl” campaign
- Named one of the “Ten Most Beautiful Indian Women of the Millennium” by a Times of India poll and featured as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People” in Hello! Canada
- Graduated from the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London in 2004 with a post-graduate degree in acting
- Partnered with Indian Design House Satya Paul to design sarees; a portion of sales goes to the India Innovation Research Centre and the Living with Cancer organization for cancer research in India
- Appears in the production of TAJ, presented by Sampradaya Dance Creations, which is touring Canada: at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Que., on Oct. 30.; at Flato Markham Theatre in Markham, Ont., Nov. 1; Festival Place in Edmonton Nov. 6, and The Banff Centre Nov. 9
Lisa Ray is the host of Top Chef Canada, Food Network Canada’s top-rated series.
But the actress and model gained fame starring in Deepa Mehta’s Oscar-nominated film Water. Other film and TV credits include Murdoch Mysteries, Cooking with Stella and Blood Ties. She has also appeared on magazine covers such as Vogue India, Elle India, People India and Chatelaine Canada.
Now Ray is returning to the stage in the dance theatre production of TAJ, written by the Governor General award-winning playwright John Murrell. To get to rehearsal ahead of her Nov. 1 performance at Flato Markham Theatre, Ray drives a 2013 Range Rover.
Why did you buy a Range Rover?
For a combination of reasons. Number one is winter. It’s elevated. It makes me feel secure. I love the seats. It’s like taking your living room along everywhere you go. And the heated seats are a huge bonus for me – I know you get them in a lot of vehicles, but there’s something different about them in the Range Rover.
Since I’ve come back to Toronto, which has been in the last four years, I hadn’t spent a lot of winters here. Now that I’m married, I’ve reconciled myself to the fact I won’t be flying off as much as I did previously. I feel it’s a great vehicle to explore Ontario in the winter.
And I enjoy the roominess and the space. My lifestyle is so crazy. I don’t have regular hours. Often I’m transporting stuff or carrying crazy costumes. Sometimes we change for shoots in our actual vehicle. It’s my little clown vehicle. You open the back and you don’t know what’s going to spill out. Its often what you least expect. From that point of view, it’s been a great companion for me in my adventures.
What’s your most embarrassing driving adventure?
I don’t get embarrassed easily. What I’ve been doing, I’ve been doing for more than 25 years. But you will find the stray bra in the crossroads in the back. It isn’t for reasons that people would think. Its probably because I’ve done a quick change, I’ve come from a shoot or I’m going to a shoot and I have to dump a bunch of clothes and underwear in the backseat, so its more embarrassing for other people who catch a glimpse of that.
In India, you have a driver – especially if you’re based in a big city. My most embarrassing moment was when my driver actually tried to teach me how to drive. It wasn’t an automatic car.
I had already lived there eight years and I felt it was a rite of passage. I had to learn how to drive. He took me to a place outside of Bombay because, as you can imagine, Bombay is really congested. He took me outside of the city where they were building a new freeway which was under construction. He set me up. It’s very odd for him to be giving me instructions – it’s usually the other way around. Then he was really getting into it. But I promptly drove into a ditch where the construction was going on for the new highway. That pretty much sealed the end of my driving lessons. I decided there’s a reason why we have drivers in India.
What does a Range Rover say about you?
To be completely frank, I haven’t been much of a car person for much of my life because I’ve lived in a lot of places that didn’t require a car – whether it was New York, London, Paris, or Milano.
There were a couple of years when I didn’t even own a car. It’s really more when I came back to North America – obviously this is more of a culture and a society that puts a lot more emphasis on driving a great vehicle.
It says it’s someone who is driving with a bit of an iron fist in a nice package. I do enjoy the feeling of being elevated and in control on the road. It’s an amazing driving experience. I’m not an aggressive driver, but I like to feel safe and secure.
Is there anything you don’t like about the Range Rover?
It’s a bit of a gas guzzler. That is the only, only drawback.
They’ve improved the trunk in the 2013 model. We used to have the 2012 model and it used to be a two-tiered system. That was the one thing I struggled with. It was so difficult to close the back of that vehicle – with the bottom and top portions, it was very confusing. It was manual. Now, it’s automatic. It’s one quick push of a button and the whole thing slides into place. I love that improvement, especially when you’re picking up groceries and juggling stuff it could be a bit of pain.
It was a great bicep workout, though, opening and closing the trunk. It’s definitely become more user-friendly now.
What was your first car?
The first car I bought was in India because that’s where I was living at the time. It was called a Maruti Baleno. Maruti was an interesting collaboration in India (with) Suzuki, who had collaborated with India to create this hybrid car, which is native to India. They start at 800s, which are these zippy little cars, and they go up to this plush model called the Baleno. I don’t know if they have them anymore. At that point, it was considered a luxury car. I treated myself after earning some good money and was established in Bombay.
You’re still driving a car with an Indian connection – did you know Range Rover is owned by India’s Tata Motors?
I’m very well are of what the Tatas have been up to. It was interesting they chose to take over Jaguar, and Land Rover.
What’s your favourite drive?
We bought a little house out in Nelson, B.C., and my favourite driving experience is when I packed up my dad and we drove across Canada on this big national road trip in my dad’s old Chevrolet van.
I loved every moment of it. We had so much fun! Everything about that trip was memorable. … And who knew Ontario was so huge – it just doesn’t end. I couldn’t wait to get out of Ontario. Everyone says the Prairies are very boring, but I was just exhilarated being in the Prairies. I loved the open sky. It captured my imagination. I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I had a month to spare.
What’s your dream road trip?
I would go to Leh in India. There’s a particular road path that is for most of the year frozen and inaccessible. Only in the summer does it thaw out. It takes you up to Ladakh, which is this absolutely unearthly part of India which is elevated. It’s a plateau. It’s called the Rohtang Pass or the passage to Leh on the way to Ladakh.
That is a spectacular road trip, but you can only do it for about a month or two the entire year. And I would take a Land Rover for that one. That one needs a beast!
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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