Always on the go and either posing for the camera or starring in South Asian films, Salma Rosey, actress, model, and world traveler, sits down with us to give us some insight into Bangladeshi life in Chicago. Although she unfortunately escaped Chicago winters and moved to Dallas, she admits that she misses Chi-town dearly and can’t wait for another meal at Devon Ave.
F: You graduated with a degree in Bio-Chemistry. What did your parents think when you decided to go into acting/modeling?
S: I started my career as a Chemist but since I had a passion in modeling and acting, I could not ignore the opportunities I had to pursue my passion. Initially, none of my family members were happy, but after seeing my passion for modeling and acting they eventually accepted!
F: What are you up to these days?
S: I just finished a digital feature film ‘Street Singer’ in Dallas, which will be aired in Bangladesh. I played the female lead. I also finished a 14 episode mini TV series ‘Far Far Away’. Both the film and the serial were produced by Chicago Bioscope. I’ve recently been cast for several TV productions, commercials and films but most of them will be shot in Bangladesh, so I’m heading off to Bangladesh soon.
F: So, why’d you leave us in Chicago and move to Dallas?
S: I’m a very family oriented person. My two brothers, five sisters and one cousin live in Dallas. We have now a big family of about 34 members including kids and parents. That’s one of the biggest reasons for me, aside from escaping the terrible Chicago winters.
F: From all the short films you’ve done, which one is your favorite?
S: My favorite one is ‘His Dream, His Nightmare’; the Bengali title is ‘Ekjon Ajmal Hossain’. Based on a true story, it was written, co-directed and produced by Farhad Hossain of Chicago Bioscope. I like it the most because I knew the real people who the story was based on. I also loved the teleplay ‘Chicago Hridoy’ where a Bangladeshi girl got lost in Chicago when she came from Bangladesh for the first time to meet her husband. I played the lead role and got to use my local Bengali accent…I enjoyed it so much!
F: Teach us some Bengali?
S: The word I use most is ‘Dhur, vallagena’ means Oh, I’m bored. My most favorite word would be ‘Aami tomakay valobashi’ which means I love you.
F: What are some of your biggest fears? Anything keep you up at night?
S: I’ve fear of ghosts. I know you’re all laughing at me but yes I’ve trouble sleeping at night if I’m home alone. (Boo!)
F: South Asian films appear to be making an entry into American mainstream media with the arrival of Slumdog Millionaire. What are your thoughts about the film?
S: Though the film is set solely in the slums of Mumbai, it has themes that appeal to individuals everywhere around the globe. The film has been well accepted by older, younger, South Asians, Americans, and everything in between. That’s really the special thing about this film- the impact it has had on such a widespread and diverse movie-going population. After all, who knew that a film with a British director, an Indo-British leading man, and Indian heroine could have such a global impact and win the Golden Globe and Academy Award for the best picture?
F: If you could import a piece of Bangladeshi culture to our own mainstream culture, what would you bring in? Why?
S: I would definitely import the traditional culture of staying close to family; love, care and respect for parents, Deshi style hospitality and of course the delicious food. And also my favorite outfit – the ‘Saari’ with traditional jewelry. It’s so elegant and I look really beautiful in a Saari.
F: Any advice you’d like to share with people who want to become models/actresses?
S: Have the passion, don’t give up, never let your dreams go. If you can dream it, you can become it. The only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you!
F: What do you miss the most from Chicago?
S: I used to live in the Rogers Park area for a long time. I often went to the beaches close by and sat by the lake during my free time. The things I miss are unlimited. I really miss going to Northwestern, Lake Michigan, and Lake Shore Drive…seeing the downtown skyline, walking down Devon Avenue, and being with my two year old nephew Ronit and my friends. Ah, and sitting by the Adler Planetarium and watching Chicago skyline at night is definitely my favorite and most missed part of my life in Chicago.
F: What’s the closest we can get to Bangladesh in Chicago? Any places or restaurants out here remind you of the South Asia?
S: Two Bangladeshi community associations organize a Bangladesh Day parade (March/April) and cultural program to celebrate the Independence Day of Bangladesh at Devon Avenue. Hundreds of Bangladeshi people living in Chicago attend this parade which involves a colorful cultural program that definitely portrays a mini Bangladesh.
The whole Devon Avenue including all the shops and most of the restaurants reminds me of South Asia!
F: Do you miss the winters?
S: I initially enjoyed the snow and eventually got frustrated. The Chicago winter is one of the major reasons why I moved down to Dallas! A Windy City winter isn’t for everyone, with the breeze blasting off of Lake Michigan, it was difficult to find things to do. But with Chicago’s wealth of indoor attractions, excellent restaurants and lively nightspots, some people can make it worthwhile.