In Conversation with Sushmita Wijayaratna
By Mahika Panditha
Meet Sushmita Wijayaratna everyone, a 26-year-old lawyer and part-time model, “and full-time pain-in-the-rear-end to all those near and dear to me. I’m currently working on getting into content creation on social media, mainly Instagram for now (HMU @shmit_happens) and my goal for the upcoming year is to get fit by hitting the gym consistently (let’s see how long that lasts, though)!”. Did you know, Sushmita used to be in an all-girl band that won TNL Onstage back in 2013!? Wild, and I love it. We got the chance to have a chat with her earlier last week, and here is what she had to say. Check out our interview with Sushmita Wijayaratna, and definitely check her out on the ‘gram – @shmit_happens.
Firstly, what inspired you to pursue law?
My aunts were of the opinion that I have the gift of the gab and should therefore pursue law (a common and silly misconception people seem to have of lawyers. That, and the view that lawyers are liars. But that’s a whole other story). And so, from the age of 6, I set my sights on becoming an attorney-at-law because I thought I’d make a bad*ss lawyer one day, and my mind didn’t waver from that goal.
What do you love most about it and why?
Alas, and truth be told, having taken oaths and becoming a fully-fledged attorney-at-law, I’ve felt a little out of my depth in this profession. All related academic pursuits were one thing, the practical reality of it has been a complete other for me. So, while I’m still trying to find my footing, hopefully, maybe, I’ll be able to answer this question properly in a few years.
You are also a model! When did you first start your modeling career?
Probably at the age of 3, when I used to hold ‘fashion shows’ with my friends. Ha ha just kidding. Seriously though, becoming a model was always something I dreamed of as a kid, so manifestation is real, people. I started modelling (professionally) back in 2015, after signing with The Agency Sri Lanka, with my first show being Artwalk.
What has been your favorite experience thus far?
Colombo Fashion Week in March 2021! Even though I’ve done the show for a few years, this particular one was the best yet for me, and I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but I absolutely had loads of fun and felt the most confident I’ve ever felt during a show.
You have been sharing your fitness journey on your social media, can you tell us a bit about that?
I’ve constantly battled with body image issues on account of being told I’m far too skinny. The skinniness won’t change much for now, I guess (fast metabolism and all that), but working out at the gym has made me feel fit, toned, and definitely more confident about wearing clothes I used to feel shy to wear because I thought I looked like a human beanpole in them (I may still look like one, but I’ll be a CONFIDENT one at that ha!). Anyway, I don’t think I’d ever be a fitness influencer/model, but my journey is equally genuine, and hopefully even relatable to some, although at times my form leaves much to be desired. The point is I’m not striving for perfection, just consistency and discipline.
Any suggestions for people who want to start their fitness journey in this new year?
From my experience of being a former couch potato, don’t make the experience an unpleasant one, for example by forcing yourself to comply with a strict diet or wake up early morning and hit the gym if you’re not inherently a morning person. Instead, make it more about being therapeutic ‘me-time’; something you look forward to doing because it’s a form of self-care. Also try not to go all gung-ho in the beginning, as that’s a sure-fire way for the enthusiasm to fizzle out. Make it more of a gradual thing that’ll then evolve into a habit. (Side note, nice workout clothes that make you feel fabulous help in the motivation department too!)
What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions of what you do, whether it be modeling or being a lawyer?
A lot of people seem to think modelling isn’t hard work, because all I have to do is “sit tight and look pretty”. I definitely don’t sit tight (standing in dem heels for hours is Pain Central, yo!), and ‘looking pretty’ takes far more time and effort than one would imagine (or wish to admit ha ha).
I’ve also been warned that I won’t be taken seriously in the legal profession due to my part-time modelling, and if that is so, it is such an archaic and narrow-minded way of thinking!
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring lawyers and/or models?
Here’s a bit of general advice – if there’s something you’ve always wanted to do but lacked the confidence/felt like people might put you down for it, etc., remember that you only have this one life: don’t live it with regret. And if at any point you feel unhappy following a particular career path, it’s never too late to change and spend some time “finding” yourself.
As for aspiring models, the most essential thing right now is to find something about yourself that sets you apart from the rest, and use social media to really promote it. You can eventually develop a niche, but don’t be bound by it- flexibility in terms of transitioning between looks is key to being a great model.
Cover Photos by Jehaan Adnan
Photos by Lois London, Kavindu Sivaraj, Jasmin Petterson, Jehaan Adnan, Avishka Seneratne, Yadushika R