Walking into the judge’s room for auditions, Laisha Junaid had no expectations of getting the ‘Golden Ticket’ for the next round. In fact, she only auditioned because her mother requested her to. “She told me she sent my name and asked me to go for auditions. I refused the first day. I said I won’t go” Laisha said speaking with Maldeeb. The second day of auditions, however, Laisha couldn’t deny her mother’s request and walked in to the judge’s room to give it a shot; and ultimately went on to become the first ever Maldivian Idol. Here’s her journey as shared with Maldeeb.
According to her, the girl who walked into the judge’s room for audition was Laisha in her purest form. “That was me, the real me. Over the course of Idol, I have learnt that putting on make-up is necessary. But the girl who walked into the judge’s room for auditions was perhaps the only time I appeared as myself on TV.” For Laisha, the highlight of her audition was the fact that she did not feel nervous at all; and the golden ticket served as the cherry on top as the young artist walked out to face a challenge that would not only change her identity, but her personality as well.
Among the many contestants who made it through auditions, Laisha stood out as the studious girl whose life ambition was to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. Juggling studies and Maldivian Idol was no walk in the park for Laisha, especially after the contestants were moved to Marble Hotel. “I spend a lot of time with my books and rarely take breaks while studying. But the change of environment made it difficult for me to study. Sometimes I stayed up all night studying” Laisha related to Maldeeb. Going to school from morning till afternoon and attending Idol practices till night, Laisha still managed to find time for her studies and get good grades in her mock exams.
The already tough competition only got tougher as the contestants made it to top ten. “I knew at one point that it was serious and I had to perform better” Laisha described the immense pressure on herself towards the end of the contest. However, the pressure didn’t come from the contest alone; but society as a whole. As the only girl among the top five, Laisha found herself subjected to criticism in every aspect of her being. The notion of gender stereotyping present in the society even today didn’t make it any easier for Laisha when criticism came from every direction simply because she was a girl daring enough to chase her dreams. “But it has made me stronger. I can take criticism now. And seeing people, especially girls, stand up for me on social media showed that people’s thinking has started to change. But there’s still a long way to go”.
Despite the constant criticism, Laisha has performed a number of beautiful songs that won the fans over. When asked about her favourite performances, Laisha named “Akiri Dhemey” and “Kahchah Elhidha Binga” as her personal favourites. Of course her fans would beg to differ on this topic. With the public votes accounting for 50 percent of the results, Laisha said she did not really know how things went at home. “I know everyone worked on voting out of love and not as a task. I think it would be right to say that I probably had the smallest team in comparison to the other contestants. But the effort they put into it was clearly greater than the others.”
Speaking of her family and friends, Laisha said that she cannot thank her family enough for being there for her and supporting her. “My parents have always been very supportive in everything I do. They have always encouraged me to go ahead and follow my dreams. I am what I am today only because of them.” She also thanked her father’s side of the family in Dhiggaru who worked tirelessly within the atoll to support her in her journey through Maldivian Idol. She thanked Mohamed Abdul Ghanee – Theyrava – for his tireless efforts in training her during the course of the show.
With the title to her name, Laisha has an image to live up to in society. “People will know me as the Maldivian Idol now. I have to live up to the reputation of the title. I have to be an inspiration to the upcoming generations” Laisha said when asked how winning the Idol changes things for her. While winning the title clearly changes things for the young artist, Laisha has no immediate plans for her solo album. “I don’t want to rush it and release an album for namesake. I want my input to be there in the music and the lyrics as well. Because that is what makes one an artist.”
Laisha plans to focus on her A’ Levels right now; but afterwards she plans to take a little break and focus entirely on music. When asked about her plans for her sponsorship, Laisha said she will apply for placement as soon as she gets her results. “I always wanted to study medicine in UK and that’s where I am going to apply for placement. I have also been thinking of using the Villa Scholarship to get a degree in another field as well.”
With the first ever Maldivian Idol title to live up to, Laisha plans to follow her dreams simultaneously; being a surgeon and a singer. She believes that if one is determined, there is nothing that they cannot achieve. We believe Laisha will go a long way in being a role model for the youth and Maldeeb wishes her all the best in all her endeavors.