Jacqueline Fernandez (born 11 August 1985) is a Sri Lankan actress, model, and the winner of the 2006 Miss Universe Sri Lanka pageant. She is currently active in Bollywood. As Miss Universe Sri Lanka, she represented her country at the 2006 world Miss Universe pageant. She graduated with a degree in mass communication from the University of Sydney, and worked as a television reporter in Sri Lanka.
While on a modelling assignment in India in 2009, Fernandez successfully auditioned for the fantasy drama Aladin, which marked her acting debut. Fernandez’s breakthrough role came with the psychological thriller Murder 2 (2011), her first commercial success. This was followed by glamorous roles in the ensemble-comedy Housefull 2 (2012) and the action thriller Race 2 (2013), both of which earned over ₹1 billion (US$16 million) worldwide. Her performance in the former garnered her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at IIFA. In 2014, Fernandez played the leading lady in the action thriller Kick, which ranks among the highest-grossing Indian films of all time. Fernandez received critical acclaim for her role in Brothers. She received further success with the comedies Housefull 3 (2016), Dishoom (2016), and Judwaa 2 (2017).
One of the most popular actresses in India, she is the recipient of several awards. Alongside her screen acting career, Fernandez has worked as a judge in the ninth season of the dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa (2016–2017), is a popular celebrity endorser for various brands and products, has participated in stage shows, and is active in humanitarian work.
Fernandez was born on 11 August 1985, in Manama, Bahrain, and was raised in a multi-ethnic family. Her father, Elroy, is Sri Lankan, and her mother, Kim, is of Malaysian descent. Her maternal grandfather is Canadian. Her father, who was a musician in Sri Lanka, moved to Bahrain in the 1980s to escape civil unrest between the Tamils and Sinhalese and subsequently met her mother who was an air hostess. She is the youngest of four children with one elder sister and two elder brothers. She hosted television shows in Bahrain at the age of fourteen.After receiving her early education in Bahrain, she pursued a degree in mass communication from the University of Sydney in Australia. After graduating she worked as a television reporter in Sri Lanka. She also attended the Berlitz school of languages, where she learnt Spanish and improved her French and Arabic.
According to Fernandez, she had aspired to become an actress at a young age and fantasized about becoming a Hollywood movie star. She received some training at the John School of Acting.Although, she was a television reporter, she accepted offers in the modeling industry, which came as a result of her pageant success. In 2006, she was crowned the winner of the Miss Universe Sri Lanka pageant and represented Sri Lanka at the world Miss Universe 2006 pageant held in Los Angeles. In a 2015 interview, Fernandez described the modeling industry as “a good training ground” and said: “It is a medium that is about shedding your inhibitions, knowing your body, confidence”. In 2006, she appeared in a music video for the song “O Sathi” by music duo Bathiya and Santhush.
In 2009, Fernandez traveled to India for a modeling assignment. She studied acting under the mentorship of theatre director Barry John, and successfully auditioned for Sujoy Ghosh’s fantasy film Aladin (2009) her acting debut. She played the love interest of Riteish Deshmukh’s character, a role based on the character of Princess Jasmine. and Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN felt that she was: “easy on the eyes and appears confident but has precious little to do”. Although the film was a critical and commercial failure, she won the IIFA Award for Star Debut of the Year – Female.
Jacqueline at event for her film Murder 2, in 2011.
In 2010, Fernandez appeared opposite Deshmukh in the science fiction romantic comedy Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai. She was cast as a girl from Venus, who lands on Earth in search of love. The film, along with Fernandez’s performance, received poor reviews; Rediff.com’s Sukanya Verma noted: “She gamely makes a fool of herself whilst aping the actions of movie stars, ranging from Sridevi’s Naagin dance, Mithun Chakravarthy’s Disco Dancer moves, to Big B’s violent headshake in Hum. Her Tara could be a keeper if only Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai wasn’t so intent on turning her into a love-struck Barbie.” Critic Anupama Chopra also criticized Fernandez, calling her “a pin-prick on a balloon”. Later that year, she made a special appearance in the song “Dhanno” for Sajid Khan’s comedy Housefull.
Mahesh Bhatt’s thriller Murder 2 was Fernandez’s first commercial success and marked a turning point in her career. She took on the role of Priya, a lonely model who is in a confused relationship with Arjun Bhagwat (played by Emraan Hashmi). Fernandez was praised for her performance, and for the boldness and sex appeal she displayed in the film. Gaurav Malini of The Times of India stated that she was “tastefully tempting” but noted that her romance with Hashmi was “literally half-baked”. The following year, Fernandez appeared in the ensemble comedy Housefull 2 alongside Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, and Asin. It became one of the top grossing productions of India that year and earned ₹1.86 billion (US$29 million) worldwide. Fernandez received mostly negative reviews for her performance. While Gaurav Malini praised her for her looks, NDTV called her a “blathering bimbo” who “find[s] no pleasure in [her role]”. Despite the negative reviews, Fernandez received a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the 14th IIFA Awards for her performance.
Fernandez’s first release of 2013 was Race 2, an ensemble action thriller (alongside Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham and Deepika Padukone), described as the “cinematic equivalent of a trashy novel” by critic Rajeev Masand. She played Omisha, a femme fatale, a role which required her learn fencing and some acrobatics. The film emerged as a commercial success,with the domestic gross of more than ₹1 billion (US$16 million). In a particularly scathing review, Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV wrote that both Fernandez and Padukone “strut around like wound-up automatons that are all decked-up but have nowhere to go.” Also that year, Fernandez appeared in an item number, titled, “Jaadu Ki Jhappi”, for Prabhu Deva’s romantic comedy Ramaiya Vasta Vaiya.