A mighty heart

Jashreen Sasha’s medical condition did not stop her from achieving her dream of becoming a model and a pharmacist, and pursuing her MBA

03 Jun 2020 / 12:17 H.

BOLD and beautiful, model Jashreen Sasha fights on, despite being born with a heart condition. But having a single ventricle in her heart did not stop Jashreen from pursuing her dream. Two major open-heart surgeries would make anyone quit, but not this plucky lady!

There were moments when Jashreen could not get out of bed due to her condition. Others would step back or put their career on hold, but the former Miss Scott Garden Ambassador 2017, and the winner of Best Female Model for Festival Busana Traditional Kuala Lumpur in 2018 and 2019, continues to strut her stuff on the catwalk and pose for the camera.

Not just a gorgeous model, Jashreen is also a role-model for courage and willpower, and admired for her inner strength. She was also a part of photographer Annatasha Saifol’s The Girl with a Scar project.

“It was made with pure heart and soul. Annatasha shot my scar and spoke about accepting differences,” she revealed.

Describing herself as “unconventional”, Jashreen said: “I have managed to embrace my quirkiness and added it into my work as a model. I prefer challenges that allow me to grow and be different.”

A graduate from Universiti Malaya, 28-year-old Jashreen is also a pharmacist, and is currently pursuing her MBA degree. In this section, she bares her heart to theSun.

What inspired you to become a model?

“At that time, I just got out of a five-year relationship with my ex-boyfriend, and it took a toll on my self-confidence, I felt not good enough. So, while I was trying to figure myself out, some of my friends told me to give modelling a shot, since I have the height for it. That’s what inspired me to become a model because I wanted to come out from all that past negativity and transform into something positive. I grew to love it.”

How did you get into modelling?

“I started my career by attending the Amber Chia modelling school. I joined a few pageants during my first year of modelling. I also did a series of photoshoots with professional photographers, who were willing to direct me and get me comfortable in front of the camera. After that, slowly, I had a few offers to do runway jobs and the rest is history.”

What do you love about modelling?

“Modelling is like an escape for me as I am the only one in control of myself and the result. No deadlines, no paperwork, except expressing myself – albeit in photos or on the runaway. It gives me a sense of persona that I can only achieve in a fantasy. I am a firm believer in the freedom of expression, and modelling is the epitome of that. I don’t have one particular favourite modelling project, because there are plenty of sweet memories with each job I do, and each one gives me a different experience. But I will say that it gives me great joy to be able to work on my passion each time.”

You are a heart patient. What kind of challenges do you face in life?

“I was born with a single ventricle. I have undergone two major open-heart surgeries. Currently, I am on follow-ups with Institut Jantung Negara (IJN).

“I think my biggest challenge would be the uncertainty of my heart condition. Somedays, I am healthy, happy and exceptionally productive, but there are just days where I can’t even leave the bed because my body is weak.

“It’s a struggle to stay positive with a heart condition. I try, yet I admit that it gets overwhelming sometimes, and it’s hard to see the light on the other side. But I have such amazing support from family and friends, and I must say, they make it all worthwhile, especially when I am feeling down. Honestly, I am just grateful for the ones that are around me, keeping my spirits up.”

What advice would you give to aspiring models suffering from any medical conditions?

“Don’t ever let anything stop you from achieving your dreams, even yourself. Doubt is the killer of dreams. You can always find a way around any condition if you have the will and passion to succeed.”

What kind of struggles do you face in daily life, or as a model?

“I think, in life, my struggles are usually more health-related; again, due to the heart condition. But as a model, I feel that I face some adversity when it comes to skin colour and body size.

“On many [occasions], I was told to lose weight, or have lost job opportunities due to either being a slightly bigger size, or for my dark skin colour. As much as this will always be a battle, I think it’s important to be yourself, and remember, be kind to yourself first. If you have that, nothing can stop you.”

How has being a model changed your life?

“It has taught me self-discipline, a lot. From the strict diet regimen to regular workouts, and at the same time, [holding] a 9-to-5 job, it has definitely allowed me to become more time-efficient. Besides benefitting me physically, it has also taught me a new sense of maturity and resilience, as the modelling world is a tough one.”

What attracted you to become a pharmacist, and where did you study?

“I studied at Universiti Malaya and I have always been inclined to all things science. I have always performed well at school. Being in the medical line was actually my ambition since I was a little kid, and I have always been intrigued by the pharmacy when I was in school, hence this was an easy choice for me.” – by S. Tamarai Chelvi

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