On family, fitness and healthy living with this multi-talented graduate, beauty queen, social worker and founder of the Stephanie Siriwardhana foundation, which works to empower, inspire and educate women and young girls in Sri Lanka.
Here’s what Stephanie had to say during our chat.
WHO IS STEPHANIE SIRIWARDHANA?
I suppose I would say she’s a human being who is trying to make a positive change in people’s lives and someone who wants to gain and impart as much knowledge as possible while having a positive influence on as many people as she can! In terms of my career, I’m a host, a compere, and I sing with Dushyanth (my husband). And, my greatest passion, lies in helping those in need.
YOUR FATHER IS A SRI LANKAN AND YOUR MOTHER IS ONE-THIRD ITALIAN- LEBANESE AND PORTUGUESE. HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOUR IDENTITY?
I was a lost child! Growing up in Sri Lanka, I really didn’t know where I belonged, because I had so many nationalities that I was a part of. And, when I was 21 my Sri Lankan passport expired and the passport office refused me a new passport saying that I’m not a Sri Lankan. Interestingly, for 2 hours I was a citizen of no country.
Regardless of all this, I’m a very proud Sri Lankan.
That being said I also think of myself as rather ‘global’ and take an active interest in what is happening around the world. I mean, my home is in Sri Lanka but there are other places in the world that I love too.
WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE?
I read a lot! I was a nerd. People don’t believe this now when I say it, but I was bullied as a child. I was in Sri Lanka until 14 years old. I wasn’t the most popular kid in class because I moved to about 9 different schools during my 14 years here and let me tell you, it was tough! But I learnt a lot, and eventually learnt to get along with everyone.
Also, I believe that ‘Home’ is where family is and it’s not just four physical walls. My family had a very nomadic lifestyle which was exciting and full of adventure! My mum and dad are two fabulous individuals who always pushed me to embrace being unique and different. So it was an amazing childhood that I had and even though we moved to different places we were all together as a family.
WHAT THINGS HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT LIFE AND THE HUMAN CONDITIONS OF BEING A CELEBRITY?
I feel like most of what we think is important is not really important. A lot of the things we chase are material and not real! What really matters is how you live your life, how you love the people around you, the impact you have on the people you meet every day. Do you put a smile on their faces? I mean yes, we need money to live, it’s nice to have awards, but it’s all man-made. It’s all just a spectacle. So that’s what I have noticed. And I think being a good human being is the most important thing, and we should realize that nothing is permanent and the things that we chase or we prioritize over our family, friends, and health is all fake. I’m not saying not to have an ambition - have an ambition, have aspirations, have a goal but just be aware that there are more important things like love, friends and family.
AS A CELEBRITY, HOW WOULD YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED BY PEOPLE?
This is a very good question because I always tell people – live your life backward. So imagine your death. Imagine how you want to be remembered. Then you would know how you want to live your life.
I want to be remembered as someone who helped others, who at least put a smile on a few faces, who made a difference and overall, was considered a good human being.
WE KNOW YOU’RE YOUNG NOW, BUT HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU RETIRE?
Oh yes! Travel the world and try all the different types of cuisines! My husband and I love to travel – so travel, adventure, go around the world, try different foods and have great experiences. But having said that, I would always have a plan first on when I want to retire, have goals I need to achieve and work towards it.
YOU HAVE QUITE A HECTIC LIFESTYLE. HOW DO YOU WIND DOWN AND RELAX AFTER A LONG DAYS WORK?
My husband is really funny so that helps!!! He’s a wonderful man, so easy-going and chill.
So what we do is when we are both free (because we are both in the entertainment industry so when I’m free he might not be free or vice versa- our schedules are hectic!) we like to watch the tv show FRIENDS, we like to have our meals together, simple pleasures, you know? We enjoy that. We both cook, we like to go out, try a few restaurants occasionally. So, I guess spending good, quality time with my husband and having a laugh over a great meal helps me wind down and relax after a long day’s work.
NAME ONE FORM OF EXERCISE YOU WOULD RECOMMEND TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BE HEALTHY BUT LIVES A BUSY LIFESTYLE LIKE YOU?
Squats. But my trainer would say deadlifts – he says deadlifts are the answer to anything – weight loss, muscle building, health, full body cardio – deadlifts, squats, plank, I like to keep it simple.
For me personally, I love dancing. I love when it’s an activity and not when it’s workout routine! I mean, the work out is a by-product of dancing yes, but I love doing it as an activity. Because I am passionate about it.
My advice - find something you love, something you are passionate about, go outdoors, swim, dance, cycle… just keep it to where your emotions lie, where you are passionate, where you have fun! At the end of the day you don’t want to be so serious you know? Life is short.