- October 18, 1984 (age 36)
- Actor, Model, Presenter
- Dev Patel
- Frederick Pinto, Sylvia Pinto
Freida Selena Pinto (born 18 October 1984) is an Indian actress who has appeared mainly in American and British films. She was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and decided to become an actress at a young age. As a student at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, she took part in amateur plays. After graduation, she briefly worked as a model and then as a television presenter.
Pinto rose to prominence through the 2008 British drama film Slumdog Millionaire, her first appearance in a film. Her performance was well received by critics, and she won the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. She was also nominated for various awards at the British Academy Film Awards, MTV Movie Awards, and Teen Choice Awards. Pinto has subsequently appeared in a number of British and American productions including You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Immortals (2011), and Trishna (2011).
Although the Indian media credited Pinto with breaking the stereotypical image of an Indian woman in foreign films, it criticised her for not acting in Indian films. In addition to her acting career, she engages in philanthropic activities and promotes humanitarian causes that include her duties as a global ambassador of the Because I Am a Girl campaign.
Early life and background
Pinto was born on 18 October 1984 in Bombay (now Mumbai), into a family from the Mangalorean Catholic community that originates in the former Portuguese colony of Goa. Her mother, Sylvia, was the principal of St. John's Universal School in Goregaon, Mumbai, and her father, Frederick, was a senior branch manager for the Bank of Baroda. Her elder sister, Sharon, works for NDTV. Pinto had a middle class upbringing in the suburb of Malad. She first wanted to be an actress when she was five years old, often dressing up and imitating television actors during her childhood. She later recalled being inspired by Sushmita Sen's victory in the 1994 Miss Universe competition, explaining that "the country was really proud of her, and I was like, One day, I want to do the same". Pinto attended the Carmel of St. Joseph School in Malad, and then studied at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, graduating in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her major was in English literature, with minors in psychology and economics. During her time at college, she participated in amateur theatre.
Despite her interest in acting from an early age, Pinto was undecided on which career path to take until watching Monster (2003) while at college: "I guess it was when I watched Monster ... And then I pretty much knew. I had to find a way. I had to do something like that, something completely transformational." In 2005, Pinto began a modeling career and joined Elite Model Management India, with whom she worked for two and a half years. She was featured in several television and print advertisements for products such as Wrigley's Chewing Gum, Škoda, Vodafone India, Airtel, Visa, eBay, and De Beers. Around the same time, Pinto also began going to auditions for films and television shows. She was chosen to host Full Circle, an international travel show that aired on Zee International Asia Pacific between 2006 and 2008. The show took her to countries all over the world, including Afghanistan, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Her auditions for both Bollywood and Hollywood productions, including for the role of Bond girl Camille Montes in Marc Forster's Quantum of Solace (2008), were largely unsuccessful. Pinto later stated it was good learning experience, stating that she was "glad things happened the way they happened. I needed to be rejected, and I needed to learn that it's part of the game [...] I can have 100 rejections, but I'm sure there's going to be one particular thing that is almost destined for me to have."
In 2007, Pinto's modeling agency selected her and six other models to audition for the female lead in Danny Boyle's film Slumdog Millionaire (2008) after a request by its casting director. After undergoing six months of extensive auditions, Pinto won the role of Latika, the love interest of the main character Jamal, played by Dev Patel. During the post-production phase, she attended an acting course at the Barry John Acting Studio in Mumbai. Although the course taught her about the "technical aspects" of acting, she stated that "in terms of the actual experience, there's nothing like going out there and actually playing the part ... So for me, my favorite acting school was the six months of auditioning with Danny Boyle". Acclaimed particularly for its plot and soundtrack, Slumdog Millionaire emerged as a sleeper hit; made on a budget of $15 million, the film grossed $377.9 million worldwide. It was the most successful film at the 81st Academy Awards: it was nominated for ten awards, of which it won eight, including the award for Best Picture. Pinto won the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, along with other cast members from the film. She was also nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the BAFTA Awards. Pinto's performance in the film drew little attention from critics as her screen presence in the film was limited. The Telegraph (Calcutta) opined "it's difficult to form an opinion" on her character; its columnist Bharathi S. Pradhan noted "Slumdog Millionaire wasn't really a test of Freida's acting abilities."
While Slumdog Millionaire launched Pinto's career in Hollywood, her next two films were art house productions rather than blockbusters. She appeared in a supporting role in Woody Allen's comedy-drama You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010), where she acted alongside Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Anupam Kher and Naomi Watts. Premiering at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, the film received mixed reviews upon its release. Pinto then starred in Julian Schnabel's Miral (2010), based on a semi-biographical novel by Rula Jebreal, playing an orphaned Palestinian woman who grew up in a refugee camp in Israel. Before the film's production began in the Palestinian territories, Pinto prepared for the role by visiting several refugee camps in the area. She stated that she could relate to her character's experiences because of her knowledge about her relatives' experiences during the partition of India in the 1940s. The film received largely negative reviews, and Pinto's performance divided critics: Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent wrote that "Miral ... is played very engagingly by Freida Pinto", while Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian stated that "[Pinto] looks uneasy and miscast".
Before beginning her film career, Pinto was engaged to Rohan Antao, who had been her publicist at one point. She ended the relationship in January 2009, and began dating her Slumdog Millionaire co-star Patel, who is six years her junior. In 2012, Pinto stated that she does not want to act with Patel again as she feels that they would not be able to replicate the "chemistry" they had in their debut film. After a six-year relationship, the couple separated amicably in December 2014. After the success of Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto had "no fixed address", but instead split her time between Mumbai, London, and Los Angeles. In an interview with USA Today in 2015, she stated that she lives in Los Angeles.
In 2010, Pinto joined Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in support of their philanthropic organisation, the "Agassi Foundation". She raised $75,000 for their annual fund raiser, "The 15th Grand Slam for Children", aimed at providing education for underprivileged children. Two years later, she was appointed as the global ambassador of Plan International's Because I am a Girl, a campaign that promotes gender equality with the aim of lifting millions of girls out of poverty. Following that, she appeared in a video clip for Gucci's "Chime for Change" campaign to raise funds and awareness of women's issues in terms of education, health, and justice in 2013. In July 2014, she spoke at the "Girls' rights summit" in London, where she called for more progress toward the end of female genital mutilation and child marriage. The following year, she spoke out against the Indian government's ban on India's Daughter, Leslee Udwin's documentary on the 2012 Delhi gang rape. During its premier at the United States, she said the film needs to reach the public as it is not a "shame-India documentary".
After the release of Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto gained widespread popularity and was frequently included in beauty and fashion polls conducted by various magazines. In 2009, she was featured in People magazine's annual lists—"World's Most Beautiful People" and "World's Best Dressed Women". That year, she was also included in Vogue's list of the "top ten most stylish women". In 2011, Pinto was included as the only Indian celebrity among the "50 Most Beautiful Women in Film", a list compiled by Los Angeles Times Magazine. The following year, People named her one of the "Most Beautiful at Every Age". She was featured in the "Top 99 Most Desirable Women" poll conducted by AskMen, consecutively from 2010 to 2012.
In March 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported Pinto as the highest-paid Indian actress, although she had not appeared in a Bollywood film to that point. The same year, she became a spokesmodel for L'Oréal Paris. Two years later, a controversy arose when she appeared in an advert promoting a L'Oreal product; it showed Pinto in what many perceived to be a lighter skin tone due to make-up or editing. The company, however, denied claims of retouching Pinto's picture.