Lisa Rani Ray was born on 4th April 1972 in Toronto, Canada and was raised by her Indian father and Polish mother. On vacation in India, Ray was discovered by a modelling agency at the age of 16 and has since become one of the most successful celebrities and cover models in India.
One of her cover-shoots was posing in a red swimming costume (Baywatch style) on the cover of Glad Rags which led to a range of different deals and to her becoming the host of her own programme. As a model she frequently took part in photo and video shoots for Indian commercials before making her cinematic debut in 1996 in the film Nethaji.
In 2001 she starred in her Indian Film Industry debut in Kasoor but her voice was dubbed by Divya Dutta because she could not speak Hindi. This role led to her role in the romantic Indian-Canadian film Bollywood/Hollywood in 2002 which earned her the "Star of the Future" award at the Toronto Film Festival. Ray moved to London after realising that acting and performance was something she wanted to pursue seriously.
She studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama, The Desmond Jones school of Physical Theatre, BADA, The London Centre for Theatre Studies and the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) where she graduated in 2004 with a post-graduate degree in acting. The year after she graduated in 2005 she starred in the Oscar-nominated film Water where she spoke in Hindi (but this was later dubbed in the final cut). Ray based herself in Milan, Paris and New York until late 2008 when she returned to Toronto where her mother passed away.
In 2009, she attended the Toronto International Film Festival where she made an incredibly important and poignant public announcement about her diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma. The public support for her was overwhelming, causing her to start a blog called the Yellow Diaries that shared her day to day experiences of coping with cancer. She discussed the problems faced in a very frank manner, creating a worldwide following of people who were touched and supported by her posts. Ray was awarded with "The Voice Achievers Award 2009" and "The Hope Award 2010" and went on to help raise funds for research into Multiple Myeloma at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.
In early 2010, she was told that she was cancer-free following her stem cell transplant. Since then she has become a spokesperson for Multiple Myeloma, raising public awareness about cancer and completed a tour called Making Myeloma Matter. She went on to host the 2011 International Indian Film Academy, 2011 Giller Prize and the 2011 season two of Top Chef Canada.
In 2012, it is clear how much of an international impact Ray has had, being named the Ambassador for the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Campaign, one of Canada's 50 Most Beautiful by Hello Magazine, awarded the "Facing Cancer Together Award of Honour" by the "Look Food Feel Better" Charitable Programme and the "Light of India Award for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment".
Now, in 2013 she has teamed up with the label Satya Paul to launch a limited edition of ten sarees that have the message of "victory and love" to tie in the emotions she experienced through fighting with cancer and her wedding day. She wanted to express through her designs that even with challenges in life the human spirit can persevere. One of the saree designs, for example, is called "Phoenix Rising" with shading from dark to light to represent the different shades of life.
It is evident that Lisa Ray is a star who works, and will continue to work, on an international level, inspiring people across the world.