struts down the runway, dressed in a black sari with a silver sequined border and a black sleeveless rhinestone studded blouse. Her long black/brown hair cut in layers, is in curls and swings as she swirls, turns and poses. Her black/brown eyes are luminous and sparkle under the lights. In the background, “Jai ho,” from Slum Dog Millionaire is playing.
The audience — at a recent fashion show is mesmerized — as they watch Patel’s perfect petite 5 2’ figure move gracefully and artistically. “She’s so beautiful,” whispers the audience, as her husband Tino is carefully taking pictures.
She‘s more than beautiful, a goddess straight out of Indian mythology. Effortlessly, the diva poses in jeans and a black top, then a salwar kameez and finally a gown.
Patel looks like she was born to do this and in a way, she was. But the Orlando resident, in her thirties and a mother of two, started her modeling career, in an unorthodox way. Her face graced the prepaid phone cards for Sky Telecom, a business she co-owns with Tino and then began a career that now includes billboards and ads for Ci gular Wireless, print advertisements for Indian clothes and jewelry and commercials on Indian channels.
She’s on fliers and billboards promoting seasonal events such as the Indian bridal fairs and fashion shows.
“It’s a hobby. I ‘m very happy. I am enjoying it,” said Patel, who as a little girl dressed in her mother’s sari and high heeled shoes and dreamed of becoming a model, one day.
But life had different plans. A dutiful daughter in a conservative, traditional family, Patel had a whirlwind arranged marriage and moved to the United States. Twenty-six days after meeting and marrying Tino, she was here. That was sixteen years ago.
Before she had finished unpacking, she discovered she was pregnant. The Patel’s first child Akash, now 12, was followed by Komal, 11.
Years passed by in raising the kids and setting up the Orlando based Sky Telecom with Tino. Today, they have 11offices,85 employees with sales in millions.
Then Patel turned to her dreams, always making it a last priority, down the list that ‘s focused on children, marriage, family life and the business.
“Never give up on your dreams. I believed that I could do it and I believed in myself. If you send only positive thoughts out to the universe, you only get back positive things because your thoughts have this power, this energy,” Patel said.
“Imagine yourself doing what you want, visualize it and it will come true.” Patel imagined dancing, acting, choreographing and modeling. They have all come true. She’s performed dances Indian themed for charities and she choreographed and taught item numbers for children for school and community activities.
Her passion and her devotion have earned her many accolades from those who work with her professionally and know her personally.
“Dolly’s amazing, she is well spoken, she’s a leader. She is punctual, well put together and I believe she will be very successful,” said Carlisle, who was one of her instructors. John Casablanca’s international affiliates have launched careers of Cindy Crawford and Drew Barrymore, among others. Patel, already is a celebrity, has that her daily life is “a balancing act.”
“I constantly do it, just like all mothers do. My world revolves around my family,” she said, describing how her kids begin their day with a few minutes of yoga & meditations with her. She takes care of the kids/family & business as well as takes out some time for herself. She is very well balanced between her responsibilities & her carieer. Weekends are all about the kids and social activities. And everything she does, she does totally.
“You have to give it your all. Either do it well or don’t do it at all, that’s true of life and of work in yoga, dancing or a body sculpting class. You only get one chance to do it at any given moment in time, so make it good.”
A year ago, Patel signed up for acting classes at the Truthful Acting Studios in Orlando. Her instructors cannot praise her enough.
“Dolly is one of the most hardworking people I have ever met and I have met so many people,” said Marco DiGeorge, an acting coach, who works with her.
“She’s determined focused and has passion. She loves what she does and she has a very unique style. A complete joy to work with, she embraces her culture and her diversity, which make her different and make her who she is.”
Friends gravitate towards her for her kindness, compassion, non judgmental and accepting attitude. “Dolly is very modest, very giving with herself and her time, she’s very caring and she is always encouraging people to strive for what they want. She’s a role model for women, just look at her, she has two kids and her figure is so well maintained,” said Bhargvi Patel, a family friend who has known her for a decade now.
Tino, says that “she is the most beautiful thing that has ever happened in my life.”
“Her positivity, her energy and her personality inspires the whole family. In the past few years, Dolly has been meditating and the dedication and commitment that she has done it with have honed her instincts and she has become a spiritual powerhouse,” he said.
“I will always support her in whatever she wants to do. I am proud of her.”
Patel says, that propels her to reach for the stars.
“I want to do something that my family can be proud of, that will make my kids feel proud.
And the world, she believes is her runway, so let the lights shine on and the music play.
something that my family can be proud of, that will make my kids feel proud.
And the world, she believes is her runWay, so let the lights shine on and the music play.
Faiza Husain, the choreographer behind the Apna Andaaz fashion show, has a fierce passion for the arts and it has reflected in her work for the community for the last five years. All of her artistic talents are self taught through sheer interest and motivation. She has been inspired by her ever supporting mother, who herself is an artist. Without her never ending support and faith Faiza would not have taken the road less traveled. She is a published poet in the English language and writes in Urdu as well, has received several awards and recognition for her dance performances and is currently writing the first novel of a series to come. It is her belief expression in words provokes thought, while expression in art generates an experience. Each viewer walks away from a performance with a unique interpretation of the piece yet everyone makes the same connection with the artist. Art is the hidden language of the soul, one which can be understood by anyone because at some level everyone can relate to works of art. After all forms of art are not so much about expressing oneself as it is about discovering oneself and sharing that joy with the viewer.
Faiza has been choreographing dances for as long as she can remember. She takes her work very seriously and prides herself on perfection. She is very patient when it comes to working with her volunteers and enjoys teaching. It was in 2004 she first directed her own fashion show and dances on stage and the feeling she experienced was like no other. Though there were long hours and intense levels of stress she felt alive. Never had she done anything on a professional level but the ease with which she organized a show in six days time confirmed her desire to pursue her talent. Since then she has widened her artistic horizons with writing scripts and directing plays, the art of makeup and photography. She has organized up to three shows a year for the UCF PSA for several years; the shows included multiple fashion segments, dances, singing, and skits. She also has participated with various local shows as well as shows in Delray Beach and Ft Lauderdale. Other than UCF PSA, she has worked with major organizations such as: Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA), APA of Central Florida, Kostara Productions for Shaadi Mela, and the Asian Students Association. She has come a long way with her work but believes she has a longer way to go yet. She dreams of one day choreographing in Bollywood and being blessed with a chance to work with her idols Saroj or Farah Khan.
Apart from her love for the arts, Faiza is a paralegal law student aspiring to attend Columbia Law School in New York to pursue her other dream of becoming District Attorney for the state of New York. Being an attorney will certainly limit her time for art but she is optimistic, that which is meant to be shall always be.