Model turned actress, filmmaker, activist and mental health advocate Shreya Patel is altruism personified. A voice for empowering the underdog, she has, since childhood, dedicated her life to not only a professional career in film and the arts but also in social work. She is an honoree of the Women’s Achiever Award for Youth Leadership and CSPN Emerging Leader Award Under 35 in the year 2020. Her selfless doggedly-determined desire to serve and improve the welfare of others is borne from surviving her own traumatic experiences. She is determined to be a net contributor to society. She divides her time between India and Canada.
Directing during COVID-19 and hitting over 1 million views – India
Shreya Patel made an impactful documentary called Unity- #LOVESPREADS Faster Than A Virus that bought together over 100 cast members in 66 countries on 6 different continents. Her collaboration around the world happened successfully with global Forbes U30 lister community and Global Sharpers Hub. The documentary showcasing the plight of the human spirit. It also explores the disparity that exists between industrialized and developing nations. Shreya described it as a love letter to the world in the time of uncertainty. She wanted the world to realize that no matter what country we come from, what language we speak, and what religion we follow, we are going through the same thing and that we are all in this together. What separates us is bringing us together in unity. One Young World Organization has promoted her documentary too.
Following the release of Unity, Shreya released a musical version of it called Freedom Dance, a song by DJ Faynyx that Shreya directly remotely. The music video makes us feel happy in these unprecedented times and has gone viral around the world and has gathered over 1 million views in less than 2 weeks of the release on YouTube. The music video features models, actors, influencers, and celebrities showcasing what their inner freedom looks like in the time of lockdown from countries like UK, South Africa, Canada, USA, Dubai, and India. Some Bollywood celebrities include Jim Sarbh, Bani J, Soniya Mehra as well as influencers and artists like Stefan Howarth, and Aleksandra Girskaya to name a few that Shreya conceptualized, scripted, and directed.
Rolling Stones India has reported about Freedom Dance too.
Modeling and Acting
Shreya Patel has walked the runways of Asia, Middle East, and North America for top designers and has been featured in numerous fashion spreads, covers, television spots, and events. She was featured in Vogue India, most notably the magazine’s 5th-anniversary show and it’s Fashion Fund Awards, as well as the Grazia India Awards. Her print ads and commercial credits include McDonald’s, Much Music Canada, Rogers Cup, Vodaphone India, Yorkdale Mall to name a few.
At 19, she became a reporter for Canada’s biggest South Asian Channel, Asian Television Network, where she covered DesiFest and interviewed prominent figures like former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty and the Consulate General of India.
Shreya has appeared in lead roles in numerous short films, improv theatre productions and most recently in Hulu’ Handmaid’s Tale, Robert Misovic’s The Intersection, Netflix’s Grand Army and FX’s Mrs. America. The graduate of Second City Conservatory, her love affair of narrative and improv continues as she performs often across Toronto with various theatres. Her first film role in “Vivid” helped garner the film multiple award nominations. She has also co-directed and acted in a fashion film “One Left” for the Elle Canada Fashion Film Competition. A natural storyteller, she fuses many of her diverse interests and impactful activism work in film projects. Shreya is currently writing a tv series about domestic human trafficking in hopes to educate and reach larger audience worldwide.
She is also a competitive dancer (hip-hop, jazz, Bollywood) and is training in aerial arts with the Toronto School of Circus Arts. She is versed in four different languages, English, Hindi, Gujarati, and Punjabi.
Shreya’s earnest contributions to the community grow more significant each year, impacting many lives and encouraging others to speak more openly about their mental health struggles.
Shreya is a founder of an initiative called reVnt – Discover You, a project to help empower those youth who have survived trauma to find strength in their troubled situation and channel it into being confident through art. Workshops also include spreading awareness about topics such as bullying, body image, and mental health, among many others.
Her earlier diligent activism work during her high school include working with various charity ventures and ultimately even completed over 150 hours in high school – way more than the 40 hours required by the school board.
Recognizing her years of unflagging dedication to the community, Shreya was crowned Miss Teen Sarnia at 17 and went on to represent her town at the Miss Teen Canada pageant. During her reign, Shreya discovered the platform had given her a much more powerful voice and from her new position, helped fundraise for organizations such as Cancer Awareness, Terry Fox and Make A Wish Foundation.
An avid Ryerson University undergraduate student during the day, she would spend her evenings working on various social work initiatives like spending time with Wish Foundation children, raising money and organizing events with a fervor that belied her years.
She moved to India right after university and worked with international talent agency IMG and Unilever to organize renowned designer, Christopher Kane’s show at Lakme Fashion Week, which lead to engagement roles with The Miss India Organization, Vogue India and Dubai Fashion Week. She continued her humanitarian work with non-profit organizations like the Mother Teresa Orphanage and Make A Wish Foundation India.
Living in a non-western country bestowed a new level of humility and insight as she volunteered and visited the orphanage often to provide support for abused and abandoned children, as well as being named a celebrity wish granter for the terminally ill.
Leveraging Film To Build Awareness of Human Trafficking
She completed a Post-Grad degree in Documentary and Film. Shreya’s burning desire was to tell the stories of the voiceless and helpless and to break shame and stigmas. Her first documentary covered the clandestine, little-known practice of domestic human trafficking in Canada. A one-woman show, Shreya traversed some of the dangerous regions in Toronto to interview various victims, then directed, produced, wrote and edited a documentary short called Girl Up, which debuted at the 18th Annual Film South Asian Festival in 2017. An Ontario MPP, Laurie Scott took notice of her documentary through a news article and tweeted to promote the film.
During 2017, media coverage on human trafficking was rife. Shreya decided to extend her documentary into a 50-minute feature film by including an interview with MPP Laurie Scott -a Canadian MPP who helped pass a human trafficking bill as well as Tamara Cherry, an award-winning journalist who has been ardently covering human trafficking issues for 10 years.
Girl Up was showcased at a human trafficking conference in Sarnia on March 2018 and was lauded by members of sexual assault and anti-human trafficking organizations, as well as those in the law enforcement community. Shreya has since focused on holding many successful community viewing sessions of the film around Canada to spread awareness of human trafficking to young girls and women at risk.
Toronto International Film Festival found reviews about Girl Up and partnered to showcase the film at the Civic Action Summit, where hundreds of civic leaders come together to combat issues and come up with solutions for a change. The documentary was used to start a conversation on how to combat human trafficking which was followed by a panel discussion with civic leaders which including national security, elected officials, senior business executives, and community advocates.
Supporting Mental Health
In 2018, she was asked to be a face of a national mental health campaign for Bell Let’s Talk, with a particular influence on fellow South Asians, for whom the subject of mental health is considered taboo. Shreya had suffered severe anxiety for five years, eventually discovering within herself an incorrigible desire to fight back. Global Affairs Canada has recognized Shreya for her advocacy in 2019. Always one to shatter social customs, Shreya has spread awareness by sitting on panels and sharing her resilient story to collaborating with organizations to discuss mental health and how to recover in a safe, non-judgmental sphere.
Expressing an immense need to share her knowledge and experience with others, Shreya has trained as a Kid’s Help Line Phone Text Responder, offering support to child victims who require immediate assistance.
She has won and represented her riding of University-Rosedale at the Under 35 Women’s Forum at the Assembly of Ontario after a vigorous selection process. She had the opportunity as a mental health advocate to spread awareness about human trafficking in front of many Members of Parliament.