Jameela Jamil, Halima Aden and Hari Nayak: 13 global celebrities on how the Covid-19 pandemic …
We’ve all seen the social media posts that have proliferated our feeds throughout the pandemic. Celebrities the world over have kept us updated on how their lives – like those of most across the globe – have been uprooted due to Covid-19.
Some successfully gained a loyal following thanks to their down-to-earth candour (see Dame Judi Dench and Tom Hanks), while others did not quite hit the mark with their inaccessible lifestyles (case in point: Gal Gadot’s star-studded cover of John Lennon’s Imagineor Kim Kardashian’s holiday).
As some countries, such as the UK and US, begin to loosen restrictions and many stars have started going back to work, we ask some of today’s biggest celebrities, from across the world and a range of industries, how Covid-19 has affected their lives, and what lessons they have learnt amid this unusual experience.
“The pandemic is actually the biggest blessing I could have asked for, because before, I was go, go, go. I didn’t have a second to sit down and reflect, and so I’m really appreciative of the fact that I’ve been able to pause, along with the rest of the world, and really reflect on life, reflect on my career and spend a lot of time at home with my family.”
“I feel the same that I felt before the pandemic [in terms of self-love], but I’ve been on an aggressive journey of the pursuit to accept myself for such a long time now. But I would say that, as a society, I think there’s been a shift.
“I hope there’s been a permanent shift where people no longer will say the sentence, ‘I need to have a manicure’. You can want to have a manicure, but nobody needs to have a manicure. It’s as if one cannot be seen outside with nails that haven’t been perfectly done by a professional.
“I guess I bathed less; I wonder if we’re all bathing less or that’s just me – that’s worrying, isn’t it?
“I would say that people have let their hair grow grey and they’ve allowed themselves to just wear comfortable clothes. A lot of people have said that they now realise every time they said, ‘I was dressing up for myself’, they lied. Now that I’ve got no one to see I’m just in sweats all the time … I think a lot of people resonate with that. I’m so curious to see what the beauty industry is going to do now that people are starting to accept their own skin and their own bodies little bit more.”
“When it comes to the restaurant world, [Covid-19] has devastated everybody, including me. I have closed a restaurant in Hoboken, New Jersey, which was just put together. As a rule of thumb, a restaurant takes a year to really find its footing and when Covid-19 happened I had to close it.
“The past year has been terrible – not just financially, but it’s also been a mental drain. I’ve seen the toll it’s taken on my friends in the hospitality world. Not knowing what is going to happen has been what’s really impacted mental health and been draining. The entire industry has taken a hit. But now, with the opening of Sona [his restaurant with Priyanka Chopra], things have become a little more positive. Hopefully more positive change is coming.”
“I think the most difficult thing has been seeing people suffer. We live in an amazing country and are very lucky, but around the world, people are suffering, losing their jobs and not able to see their families. You want to help as many people as you can.”
“Well, I was sleeping a little bit more than I normally do because I was travelling much less. And I was spending more time with the family and that is very positive as well. I did the best out of it.
“I had lots of work to do, but more administrative, creating all these dishes, cooking all this food. And, of course, it was perfect to have had all the time, because in the end, if I’m looking back on this past year, if we hadn’t had the lockdown, perhaps I wouldn’t.
“I believe in destiny. Of course everyone’s lives have changed a lot, but I’m still positive, and now we have to look at what is going to happen post-Covid-19.”
Job: Celebrity hairstylist, including the Kardashians
“The pandemic has impacted my life in almost every aspect. My career shifted from travelling weekly and working mostly with celebrity clients to no travel whatsoever, slowing the pace, and creating more content and tutorials from home.
“I’ve used the time to try to empower women with the tools to maintain their hair health at home by using great wash and care products.
“On a personal level, I’ve learnt to let go, manage expectations and take more time for other areas of my life, like my health and family.
“I [was] pregnant … which I may not have been had my career been as rigorous as it is normally. It’s been a blessing to have something to look forward to in such a dark year.”
“2020 for me was a roller coaster, like it was for everybody. I started off being very hyper and anxious. I couldn’t sit still and it was driving me nuts. I was watching a lot of shows, anything with subtitles so I could concentrate. But during the course of lockdown, the one thing I learnt was that we’re all afraid to be alone. People don’t want to be caged and don’t want to be isolated.
“But we all also realised that the saying ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ is actually so true.
“The greatest blessing for me, at the end of it all, was that our show was released on Netflix at the end of the year. The love and adulation I received was so overwhelming, I couldn’t believe that it actually happened. I looked at all these messages that were pouring in, with so many women resonating with my life and story, and I was so grateful. So I have to say, all in all, it was a roller coster but enriching at the end. It’s taught me a lot of patience and to pay attention to the little things.
“Now, at this point, we are at phase two of lockdown. It’s back to being terrifying again. But, at the end of it all, I’m so privileged and so blessed and I really have no business complaining.”
Job: Founder of Mindvalley and author of The Code of the Extraordinary Mind
“The pandemic caused me to move countries for the sake of my kids. We moved from Malaysia to Europe. My kids wanted to be close to their mother (who had moved back to Europe during lockdown) and we took a joint decision to give them a better quality life, better education and a place where they could still enjoy the outdoors.
“It was a hard decision for me as Malaysia has been my home for more than 18 years. It’s where we headquarter Mindvalley with a team of 250 employees working under me.
“I now see that there was a blessing in that, too. I have fallen in love with Europe. The kids are happier, their mother is happier and I made a whole new circle of friends and I have learnt to structure the company so that I can work remotely. This has given me more freedom than I could have ever imagined.
“Under every cloud, there is a silver lining. While I know Covid has been devastating for so many and it was painful for me, too, in the beginning, I have come to see that this was one of the best things that could have happened to me.”
“On a personal level, as terrible as the pandemic has been – and I know a lot of lives have been affected by it and a lot of lives lost because of it – the one silver lining for me, just from my personal life, is that I get to spend so much time with my family now.
“The schedule has been very friendly versus what it was before. I get to enjoy my kids, I get to teach them how to ride their bikes and help them with their homework and put them to bed at night. And it’s something that I’ll never take for granted again.
“When things go back to normal and I have to go back on the road, I’m very happy that it’s such an early stage of their life. They now know who their dad is as they call me ‘baba’. They know who Baba is, they get to know Baba’s quirks and we have our own handshakes and our own games that we play, so I’m very thankful for the time that I have with them.”
“At the beginning, I was like everybody else, trying to figure out what was going on and how do you deal with this? Looking in the mirror, looking at yourself. And then it was like ‘OK, how do I stay positive and healthy?’
“It took me time to adjust to working on my shows and projects from the other side of the world.
“Normally, I am travelling constantly and like to be involved both physically and spiritually. After working on projects through Zoom calls, it made me realise how amazing my team has been and that you have to have a great team on the other side in order to deliver a great show or project. Especially when you can’t be there physically.”
“So, within that time, I was at home, I was trying to stay healthy, be positive, exercise, eat well. Like everybody else, just trying to fight through.”
“Covid-19 upset everything. The stores were closed and suddenly we had to go back to basics. I took one whole month off, because the whole of Italy was closed so, for me, this became a time to reflect and reconnect with things I felt were important.
“When we all came back to work, I found myself asking ‘Why would anyone want this? Where are they going to need this?’. For us, it has become about doing less, about cutting back and making each piece more important.”
“I think it’s enhanced [my sense of self love]; personally, being home and having fewer expectations has been really liberating. I don’t think I realised just how many expectations I felt burdened by in my everyday life. And I think that spending time with people I love, which is my family, and feeling that inherent acceptance by them … They don’t care if I show up in my pyjamas, they don’t care if I’m done up. I’ve really focused on not that external source of self-esteem, which is so easy to do in society, because I was isolated and I had to get it within myself.
“It really forced me to do a lot more inner-work, which I would say I always try to do, but the pandemic really made me confront myself in a way that I haven’t before and that’s been great for me personally.
“I was lucky enough to live in Australia during this time, where the lockdowns weren’t as stringent and I did get to engage more than most countries, I think. I’m aware that my mental health didn’t suffer as much as people living in other countries. But it was very confrontational; I think it did have a positive impact on me.”
Job: Jewellery designer and star of Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives
“Like everyone, the pandemic affected me in a big way. Initially … I had a lot of anxiety, a lot of uncertainty for the future, especially when it came to my kids.
“It was traumatic especially for my son, who missed out on school because online schooling is just not the same. My daughter was stressed because she was pursuing her classes and film career.
“Also, my parents live in Delhi. So we are constantly worrying about them being far away from us and making sure they are OK. The uncertainty is scary.
“I learnt to appreciate the little things, like long lunches on the family table and bonding. As a family, we really slowed down our pace. We are constantly there for each other and hope to get through this together.
“Nobody will ever forget this pandemic and the crazy year we have all had. I will, however, always remember the quality time I have spent with my family.”
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