Born: November 01, 1973
Date of Birth: November 1, 1973
Aishwarya Rai was born in India into a devout Hindu family. As she was growing up, Rai dreamed of a career in medicine, zoology and/or architecture. In the ninth grade, she began modeling, and at 17, she won the Ford Supermodel Contest, which led to commercials and her first Bollywood film, Mamagaru (1991). A few years later, while in college studying architecture, a friend urged Rai to enter the 1994 Miss Femina World contest as Miss India. She was runner-up, which led to being featured in Vogue magazine. She then went on to win the Miss World title later the same year.
During an appearance on CBS' 60 Minutes, Rai explained she entered because she wanted to change the way the world sees India. "For me, it went beyond being a beauty queen. For me, it was about being the 20-year-old girl from India on an international platform and a lot of people actually would assume that I wasn't even educated in India because of the way I speak. [Rai speaks English with a British accent] And they'd be like, 'Have you studied in India? Do you actually speak English out there?' and, I was like, 'This is so interesting that so many people know so little about my country.' And this is exactly what I wanted to do when I set out on this little mission in my head."
Following the Miss World title, more offers to appear in Bollywood films came pouring in, and she realized she had to put her studies on hold. In no time, she was winning awards, including Most Promising Female Newcomer at the Screen Weekly Awards for â€¦Aur Paar Ho Gaya (1997); Two Best Actress awards at the FilmFare Awards for Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and Devdas (2003); and Critics Choice Award for Best Actress in Raincoat (2004) at the Zee Cine Awards. She soon became Bollywood's highest paid actress.
Her English-language film debut was in Bride & Prejudice (2004), directed by Gurinder Chada (Bend it Like Beckham) and based on Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. Rai received a Best Breakthrough Performance nomination for her work in the film by the Washington DC Film Critics Association. Her second English-language film was The Mistress of Spices (2005), co-starring Dylan McDermott and co-written (but not directed) by Chada.
She continues to star in both English-language and Bollywood movies, including Dhoom 2 (2006), Provoked (2007) opposite Naveen Andrews (of Lost fame), The Last Legion (2007) with Ben Kingsley and Colin Firth, and Chaos (2008) with Meryl Streep.
Other accomplishments including being the first Indian actor to be a member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival (in 2003), becoming an international ambassador for L'Oreal, being featured on the cover of Time Magazine, as well as being included on their list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World Today" and being featured in People magazine as one of the "100 Most Beautiful People in the World." She also became the first female Indian to be immortalized in wax at the world famous Madame Tussaud's museum in London.
Rai married actor and frequent co-star Abhishek Bachchan in 2007. Despite her fame and riches, Rai is still a devout Hindu who has been quoted as saying, "I have never done a kissing scene nor do I have intentions to" and "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."