Lisa Ray

Lisa Ray

Birth name: Lisa Rani Ray
Born: April 4, 1972
Age: 51
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Lisa Rani Ray (born 4 April 1972) is an Indo-Canadian actress, model, television host, philanthropist and social activist. In 2005 she appeared in the Canadian film Water, which premièred at the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2008 she starred alongside Sheetal Sheth in the romance films I Can't Think Straight and The World Unseen.

Ray made her Indian cinematic debut in 1994 with the Tamil film Nethaji, alongside Sarath Kumar, in which she appeared in a brief role. In 2001 she appeared in the Bollywood film Kasoor alongside Aftab Shivdasani. In 2002 she acted in the Telugu film Takkari Donga, alongside Mahesh Babu. On 16 November 2010, TLC India announced that it would film a new 5-part series, Oh My Gold, with Ray. It premiered in 2011. The series Oh My Gold was set against the cultural-yet-contemporary backdrop of India. Uncovering the beauty of various cities, Ray played both a host and a travel guide. In 2016, Ray will appear in Ram Gopal Varma's biographical Veerappan.


Early life

Ray was born in Toronto to a Bengali father and a Polish mother and grew up in the suburb of Etobicoke. She spent some time of her childhood at Shyambazar (Kolkata) in the Indian state of West Bengal. She excelled academically, doing five years of high school in four, while attending three different high schools: Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, Richview Collegiate Institute, and Silverthorn Collegiate Institute.

She spoke Polish to her maternal grandmother and watched movies of Federico Fellini and Satyajit Ray with her cinephile dad.



Ray came to public attention when she appeared in an advertisement for Bombay Dyeing wearing a high-cut black swimsuit in the 1990s, opposite Karan Kapoor. Subsequently, she returned to Canada to attend university to study journalism, but a car accident that injured her mother derailed those plans. Instead, she returned to India, where she appeared on the cover of Glad Rags wearing a red Baywatch-style swimsuit. The sensation that caused led to more magazine covers, spokesperson deals, and a job as host of her own show-business program. A Times of India poll named her the "ninth most beautiful woman of the millennium," the only model in the top ten. She also anchored the TV show Star Biz on Star Movies, with actor/model Kelly Dorji.Lisa also appeared a music video for the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Aafreen Aafreen, and then took an assignment to anchor a TV show.


After turning down a number of roles, Ray made her Indian Film Industry debut in 2001 with the Hindi film Kasoor, opposite Aftab Shivdasani, in which her voice was dubbed by Divya Dutta, because she could not speak Hindi. Interestingly, actress Divya Dutta also starred in the same film, but because she had already given her voice to Lisa Ray, Dutta's voice was dubbed by another artist—just to make her own character believable. Her work in that film caught the eye of Deepa Mehta, who cast Ray in the romantic Indian-Canadian romp Bollywood/Hollywood, in 2002.

Realizing that acting was something that she wanted to pursue more seriously, Ray moved to London to concentrate on a career in the performing arts. While there, Ray studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama, The London Centre for Theatre Studies, The Desmond Jones school of Physical Theatre, and BADA. She graduated from the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA), in 2004, with a post-graduate degree in acting.

While studying, Ray made a conscious effort to not accept any film offers until she had graduated. However, while still at ALRA, she received another call from Deepa Mehta, who made her an offer she simply could not refuse—the lead role of Kalyani in Mehta's highly controversial and much-anticipated feature Water.

In 2005, Ray worked again with Mehta, in the Oscar-nominated film Water, in which she spoke her lines in Hindi, although her voice was dubbed in the final cut. Since then, Ray has worked in productions from Canada, Europe, and the United States. Past roles include a farm girl in All Hat, a school teacher in A Stone's Throw, a housewife in 1950s-apartheid South Africa in The World Unseen, and an Arab lesbian in the humorously titled I Can't Think Straight, directed by Shamim Sarif. "I think every film that I’ve done so far has been a turning point because I experimented with each one and grew professionally. The movies I chose, dealt with a lot of thought-provoking subjects."

After graduation, Ray based herself out of Milan, Paris, and New York from 2004-2008, returning to Toronto when her mother died in late 2008.

In 2007, Ray completed filming for Kill Kill Faster Faster, which is a contemporary film noir inspired by the critically acclaimed novel of the same name, by Joel Rose. She appeared in a few uninhibited sex scenes, "something unheard of for an artist from India."

Ray guest-starred in the USA Network series Psych, directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, which aired on 30 November 2009. She also appeared in a guest role of a reporter, Dominique Ball, in the recent Woody Harrelson movie Defendor.

Ray attended the Toronto International Film Festival in support of her work in Cooking with Stella. At this event, Ray revealed that she had incurable cancer, and she shared the diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma with the media and the public. At the same time, Ray started an acclaimed blog, The Yellow Diaries, chronicling her cancer experience.

"I believe it can be cured," Ray wrote on her blog. "That's the Dirty Realist in me... I'm getting better. My prognosis, given my 'junior' status and stage of disease, is very good. I'm aiming for full remission."

Ray went on to help raise funds for the establishment of the first research chair for Multiple Myeloma at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. Also, she took part in Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl campaign, a global movement that fights for the rights of girls around the world who face discrimination because of their gender and age.

On Christmas in 2009, Ray received a stem cell transplant to treat her rare cancer.


In April 2010, Ray announced that she was cancer-free, after a stem cell transplant. Ray gave a candid interview on her personal cancer trauma and surviving it, appearing on the cover of the 2010 anniversary issue of the Indian men's luxury magazine The Man.

Ray was seen in UniGlobe Entertainment's cancer docu-drama titled 1 a Minute, scheduled for release in 2010. The documentary was made by Namrata Singh Gujral and featured cancer survivors Olivia Newton-John, Diahann Carroll, Melissa Etheridge, Mumtaz, and Jaclyn Smith, as well as William Baldwin, Daniel Baldwin, and Priya Dutt, whose lives have been touched by cancer. The feature was narrated by Kelly McGillis. It also starred Bárbara Mori, Deepak Chopra, and Morgan Brittany.

Ray has since become an outspoken advocate for stem cell technology, recording a PSA for the McEwan Centre for Regenerative Medicine. Also, she completed a national media tour in Canada for Multiple Myeloma called Making Myeloma Matter, in early 2011, to raise public awareness.

In 2011, Ray acted in the acclaimed stage play Taj, opposite Kabir Bedi in Luminato. Also, Ray was at the Taj Mahal and the Estee Lauder Breast Cancer event to spread awareness about breast cancer.

On 5 July 2010, Ray was honored to be a host of the informal lunch for Queen Elizabeth's visit to Toronto. Ray also hosted the 2011 International Indian Film Academy IIFA Rocks fashion and music event and was a presenter at the IIFA Awards and the 2011 Giller Prize.

A strong advocate of stem cell research and a long-time yoga practitioner, Ray partnered with co-owners Paris and Annette, in 2011, to open Moksha Yoga Brampton.

On 15 November 2011, Ray announced that she had been named to host season two of Top Chef Canada, which is Food Network Canada's top-rated series. The show premiered in March 2012.

Ray had one TV series Endgame and one film Patch Town released in 2011. Also, Ray guest-starred in the Canadian-television drama series Murdoch Mysteries, which aired on 12 April 2011.

On 18 May 2012, Craig Goodwill announced that Ray would star in his Boy Toy, a fantasy drama that is based on Goodwill’s short film Patch Town. Boy Toy begins shooting in Toronto in November 2012.

In September 2012, Ray was named ambassador for the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign in Canada. Pantene Beautiful Lengths is a charity campaign that asks people to grow and donate their hair to make real-hair wigs for women battling cancer.

In 2015, Insight Vacations announced Ray as their new Global Brand Ambassador for the Exotics and Gold Collections.

Personal life

On 23 June 2009, Ray was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells known as plasma cells, which produce antibodies. It is a rare disease. In April 2010, she announced that she was cancer-free, after a stem cell transplant. As multiple myeloma is an incurable disease, Ray is not completely cured of the disease. In February 2012, Ray announced her engagement to management consultant Jason Dehni. On 20 October 2012, Ray and Dehni (then a banking executive and philanthropist) were married in the Napa Valley, in California.

In an interview with Times of India, Ray has said that most of her diet consists of juices, smoothies, and other vegetarian food. She has also cut down on dairy intake.

Humanitarian work

In 2009, Ray publicly announced about her diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma at the Toronto Film Festival. Since then she has been involved in bringing the attention of the people towards the rights of girls around the world. She has initiated a number of fundraisers and campaigns for Multiple Myeloma such as the "Because I'm a Girl" campaign. In February 2010, she underwent a stem cell transplant that helped cure her cancer.

After her recovery, Ray launched "Make Myeloma Matter" media campaign, which helped raise awareness about the disease world-wide. She also actively advocated the stem cell technology and its benefits. In the same year she became the face of Hillberg & Berk Jewellery, a part of the proceeds of which went to Multiple Myeloma Canada.

Raising Funds with Satya Paul

In 2012, Ray initiated an effort to fund the Indian Innovation Research Centre (IIRC). The IIRC is a non-profit cancer research body that began with the 'Living With Cancer' program that was initiated by Ray the same year. Their mandate is to promote convergence of fundamental as well as translational cancer in India, it had also played an instrumental role in helping Lisa fight Multiple Myeloma and overcome a trying phase of her life. She partnered with Satya Paul to create a range of exclusive sarees for the wedding season. These sarees (that were worn by Lisa) were then auctioned online with 100% of the proceeds going to IIRC for the development of their cancer research.

The Run 5K Walk

After being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, Ray launched The Princess Margret Run 5k Walk, an initiative to raise funds for MM patients. Multiple Myeloma although treatable has no cure, the walk was an event with a purpose to fund research at Bloom Share for Multiple Myeloma Research at the Princess Margret Hospital. The research would help develop drugs that could help MM patients stabilize their condition till the cure can be developed. The walk was a success pooling in money from across the county to help the cause.


In 2015, Ray partnered with Canadian Health and Wellness brand Greeniche, a natural healthcare product brand with pure vegetarian formulas, managed by healthcare professionals. At the launch of the brand she commented "I'm honored to launch into a special role as wellness guru for Greeniche Naturals. As a cancer survivor, I have healed myself through nutrition, healthy choices and wellness techniques and now I can support others in living their life to the fullest by sharing tips online and through special videos. Hopefully these will help fuel your Passion for life."

Beauty Gives Back

Ray joined the Beauty Gives Back campaign, which launched in Canada in 2015. The campaign addresses the cancer blues- the emotional fallout from cancer and its treatment. While launching the campaign Ray commented, "The beauty gives back campaign helps and motivates women to overcome the shackles of cancer and the process of its treatment. It seeks to give them their lost confidence back so that they continue their fight against the deadly disease with a new belief and dignity. It was an absolute honor to be the part of such a worthy cause which works towards giving face value to the emotional fallout from cancer."


  • Voted Star of the Future at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival,
  • Top Ten most Beautiful Indian Woman of the Millenium by the Times of India
  • Won the Best Actress in a Canadian film for Water by the Vancouver Critics Circle
  • Won 'Voice Achievers Award for 2009' for outstanding contribution in fields of film, trade, literature and sports
  • Named one of Canada's 50 Most Beautiful Stars in Hello Canada's May 2009 issue.
  • Honored with Fortis Lisa Ray Award for Conquering Cancer in 2010
  • Honored with a Special Achievement Award at Miss India-Canada 2011
  • Named one of Canada's 50 Most Beautiful Stars in Hello Canada's May 2012 issue.
  • Honored with People's Choice Award at the 'Light of India' Awards 2012 in Arts & Entertainment section.
  • Named one of Canada's 50 Most Beautiful Stars in Hello Canada's 2013 issue.
  • Honored with the prestigious 'Diamond Jubilee Medal' in May 2013.
  • Awarded the 'Facing Cancer Together' Look Good, Feel Better award in September 2012
  • Won Anokhi Prestige award in 2013 in the category of Canadian Actor of the Decade for movie Water.
  • Awarded prestigious 2014 Women of Action Honoree by Israel Cancer Research Fund.
  • Awarded Medscape award for Most Inspirational Fighter of India 2015


  • 2009 : 5K Your Way Walk/Run, MMWalk for the Cure
  • 2009 : Plan Canada’s ‘Because I Am A Girl’ campaign
  • 2010 : Plan Canada’s ‘Because I Am A Girl’ campaign
  • 2010 : "1 a Minute", to inspire women and give them hope
  • 2010 : Estee Lauder Breast Cancer Awareness
  • 2011 : ‘Make Myeloma Matter’ media campaign
  • 2011 : Artbound, in support of Free The Children
  • 2011 : GIRL 20 SUMMIT
  • 2012 : BE FAIR 2 RARE
  • 2012 : Wellspring Cancer 'Graduate' Fashion show
  • 2012 : “Rhythm and Soul”-THE SPARK GALA 2012, to Ignite A Child's Potential
  • 2012 : Run or Walk, MM5K
  • 2012 : Plan Canada’s ‘Because I Am A Girl’ campaign
  • 2012 : Ambassador for Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign in Canada


Film and TV series

All are English language films unless otherwise noted.

Year Film Role Notes
1994 Hanste Khelte Rekha Hindi film
Special appearance in song
1996 Nethaji Priya Tamil film
2001 Kasoor Simran Bhargav Hindi film
2002 Takkari Donga Bhuvana Telugu film
2002 Bollywood/Hollywood Sue (Sunita) Singh
2004 Ball & Chain Saima
2004 Yuvaraja Lovely Kannada film
2005 Water Kalyani
2005 Seeking Fear Nina Atwal
2006 The Flowerman Louise
2006 Quarter Life Crisis Angel
2006 A Stone's Throw Lia
2007 Blood Ties Elena Blood Ties TV Series, Season 1, Episode 9, Stone Cold
2007 The World Unseen Miriam
2007 All Hat Etta Parr
2008 I Can't Think Straight Tala
2008 Kill Kill Faster Faster Fleur
2008 Toronto Stories Beth
2008 The Summit Rebecca Downy The Summit TV Mini-Series
2009 Somnolence Jeany Rodriguez
2009 Defendor Dominique Ball
2009 Cooking with Stella Maya Chopra
2009 Let the Game Begin Eva
2009 Psych Sita Psych TV Series, Season 4 Episode 6 "Bollywood Homicide"
2010 Trader Games Sarah
2010 1 a Minute Star
2011 Murdoch Mysteries Mirala Season 4, Episode 9, The Black Hand
2011 Endgame Rosemary Venturi Endgame TV series
2011 Patch Town Bethany Franks
2015 Ishq Forever Hindi film
2015 Zahhak Hindi film
2016 Veerappan Shreya Hindi film

TV show

Year Show Role Notes
2005 The Standard Bollywood Actress TV series
2010 Great Canadian Books Herself TV series documentary,Season 1, Episode 7, Late Nights on Air
2011 The Marilyn Denis Show Herself TV series, Episode #1.57
2011 Oh My Gold Herself TV Show of TLC Channel
2012 The Hour Herself TV series, Episode #8.122, #8.123
2012 Top Chef Canada Herself TV series, Season 2, Episode 1-13


Year Film Role Notes
2011 Taj Princess Jahanara

Magazine cover photo

Year Magazine Issue Notes
2002 Anokhi Vibe (Canada) Winter issue
2002 Take One (Canada) September issue
2002 Elm Street (Canada) November issue
2006 RIVAAJ Magazine May issue
2006 Toronto Life (Canada) August issue
2007 NIRVANA Woman 2007
2007 Chatelaine (Canada) September issue
2007 Glow (Canada) December issue
2009 Asian woman(Canada) April issue
2009 M Magazine (Canada) June issue
2009 Harper's Bazaar India June issue
2009 Hi! Blitz (Canada) July issue
2010 Time (India) February issue
2010 People (India) May issue
2010 Mega Modelz (India) August issue
2010 Vogue (India) August issue
2010 Elle (India) October issue
2010 Prevention (India) November issue
2010 The Man (India) December issue
2011 City Life (Canada) June/July issue
2011 ANOKHI (Canada) July/August issue
2011 Fusia Magazine (Canada) No. 2 issue
2011 More Magazine (Canada) February/March issue
2012 Jewellery Business Magazine June issue


Year Song Singer Notes
1996 Afreen Afreen Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
1999 Har Taraf Tera Jalwa Daler Mehndi


  • Brand ambassador of Rado (watches) in India
  • Lisa named Ambassador for 'Pantene Beautiful Lengths' Campaign

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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