Prajakta Koli. Makeup by Shrushti Birje, hair styling by Netra Chavan, styling by Shreeja Rajgopal, photography by Shivam Gupta

Prajakta Koli, known globally as one of India’s most influential content creators, activists, and actors, is a trailblazer for her generation. Operating under the moniker @MostlySane, Prajakta has garnered a combined social media audience of over 15 million. Her fearless viral videos address critical issues such as mental health, body positivity, climate change, and women’s education, attracting collaborations with global leaders including Bill Gates, Michelle Obama, Priyanka Chopra, and Ed Sheeran. Featured on the covers of ELLE, Cosmopolitan, and Rolling Stone in India, as well as Forbes’ 30 Under 30 issue, Prajakta’s impact is undeniable.

In a project close to her heart, Prajakta contributed her voice to Room To Read’s animated film SHE CREATES CHANGE, which focuses on girl child education through six poignant narratives. Featuring alongside powerful women like Freida Pinto and Charithra Chandran, the film premiered at the SXSW EDU Conference & Festival and is being broadcast by Warner Bros Discovery.

As a staunch advocate for social change, Prajakta recently attended the COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai, engaging with global leaders to highlight climate issues and solutions in a digestible format for her audience. Her YouTube channel is a platform for these crucial conversations, showcasing her dedication to environmental advocacy.

Prajakta’s influence extends beyond social media; she has spoken at the World Economic Forum at Davos, attended the UN General Assembly with the Clinton Global Initiative, and appeared in Michelle Obama’s Emmy Award-winning docuseries YOUTUBE’S CREATOR OF CHANGE.

As an actress, Prajakta stars in Netflix’s hit comedy series MISMATCHED, currently in production for its third season, and will soon be seen in Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming series ANDHERA. Her Bollywood debut in JUG JUG JIYO earned her a Filmfare Awards nomination for Best Female Debut, showcasing her versatility and talent.

Adding to her multifaceted career, Prajakta is set to release her first book, a romance novel titled, Too Good To Be True, poised to become an instant bestseller.

In this exclusive interview with Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine, Prajakta Koli shares insights into her journey, the challenges of girl child education, her motivations as a content creator, and her exciting future projects. 

Hair styling by Sujata, photography by Prathamesh Kumbhare

Indira Cesarine: Can you tell us about your involvement in the Room To Read’s film “SHE CREATES CHANGE” and what inspired you to lend your voice to this project?

Prajakta Koli: I have been a huge fan of everything Room To Read has been working on. Susan Wojcicki, who used to be the CEO of YouTube, put me in touch with them, and my first thought was, why haven’t we worked together before? Any project involving Room To Read excited me, but Dewmini’s story in “She Creates Change” felt especially real and relatable. The storytelling is honest and to the point, with no fluff. It’s beautifully made, and it’s an honor to be associated with such a project.

As an advocate for girl child education, what do you think are the biggest challenges and how can we address them?

Talking about girl child education was a challenge for the longest time. There wasn’t enough awareness or media coverage. Thankfully, this is changing now. I believe in the power of conversations and storytelling to drive change. Projects like these help build awareness, and I’m glad I can contribute at different stages of my career.

How did you get started as a content creator, and what motivated you to use your platform for social causes?

I started as a content creator after failing at my one dream of becoming a radio jockey. When I heard my own radio show, I realized I was terrible at it, and my boss didn’t mince her words when she fired me. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have tried to look for other opportunities. Sudeep from One Digital Entertainment guided me into content creation, and that’s how my journey began, nine years ago. Initially, I made comedy content, but a year in, I realized that my YouTube audience was very engaged and gave honest feedback. This community aspect encouraged me to discuss topics close to my heart, starting with a video on mental health and body positivity on World Mental Health Day in 2017. The positive reaction motivated me to continue.

 Makeup by Sahithya Shetty, hair styling by Rupali Dhumal, styling by Sakshi Pamnani, photography by Shivam Gupta

Your viral videos discussing mental health and body positivity have resonated with millions of people worldwide. What inspired you to tackle these important topics, and how do you hope to continue raising awareness?

My audience inspired me. The overwhelming reaction to my content made me realize my voice had an impact. The strength in socially relevant conversations has always been my audience. Understanding the scope of the difference you can make is very motivating and powerful.

You recently attended the COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai. What were your key takeaways, and how can individuals contribute to climate change solutions?

There are many conversations about climate action happening now. COP28 was a huge learning opportunity for me, offering diverse perspectives. I saw a silver lining: discussions focused not only on the problems but also on solutions and successes. Individuals can contribute by starting small in their homes by segregating waste, composting, avoiding single-use plastics, and discussing climate action with peers and family. Taking responsibility as citizens of the world can make a huge difference.

You’ve collaborated with influential figures like Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, and Priyanka Chopra. What have you learned from these experiences, and how do you choose the causes you support?

I am always amazed at how normal and grounded these influential figures are. Meeting Michelle Obama, for example, felt like a regular girl-to-girl conversation. These experiences taught me to stay grounded and focused. My involvement in causes evolved naturally, starting with body positivity, which led to mental health, inclusivity, gender equality, girl education, and climate action. And when we look back these topics are all interlinked, and I am so glad that the opportunities for impactful collaborations have come organically.

From Netflix’s “Mismatched” to your Bollywood debut in “Jug Jugg Jeeyo,” how has your journey as an actress been so far, and what excites you about the upcoming projects?

My acting journey has just started. I did theater when I was younger but didn’t act for a long time. I became an actor outside my YouTube channel in 2019. I’ve been fortunate to work with wonderful directors, writers, and producers. The journey has been full of learning, and it’s been overwhelming but fun.

As a content creator, activist, and actor, how do you manage to balance these different roles and responsibilities?

The credit goes to my team. They keep me organized. I make to-do lists in my notebook, which helps me stay on track. I love my job, whether it’s creating content, acting, or using my platform for advocacy. The joy I get from my work helps me balance everything.

Hair styling by Sujata, photography by Prathamesh Kumbhare

Looking back at your career, which projects or campaigns have been the most memorable and impactful for you?

The #IPledgeToBeMe campaign against body shaming in 2017 was very impactful. It was the first time I realized the positive impact my voice could have and hence that will always be close to me. Other special projects include collaborations with Google’s YouTube’s Creators for Change, Room To Read, and UNDP. All of them have been very special and fulfilling.

Who or what has been your biggest inspiration or role model throughout your journey, and how have they influenced your work and values?

My parents have been my unwavering support system, serving as my backbone since day one. Additionally, my incredible team has played a significant role in shaping who I am today, inspiring me to dream bigger and giving me the strength to persevere. The collaborations I’ve had and the continuous support from my audience have also been incredibly motivating. I feel fortunate to draw inspiration from various sources, which continually fuel my passion.

Makeup by Shrushti Birje, hair styling by Netra Chavan, styling by Shreeja Rajgopal, photography by Shivam Gupta 

Can you share some insights about your upcoming book, “Too Good To Be True,” and what inspired you to venture into writing?

“Too Good To Be True” is a romance novel, inspired by my newfound love for romance fiction. Growing up in India exposed me to beautiful love stories portrayed in films, which fueled my passion for the genre. About a year and a half ago, I delved into the world of romance novels and instantly fell in love. During the lockdown, I dedicated time to writing original fiction concepts, eventually leading to the creation of “Too Good To Be True.” Originally conceived as a show idea, I decided to pursue writing it as a novel. With the support of my team and Harper Collins who came in as a publisher, the project came to fruition, surprising and delighting me every step of the way.

What advice would you give to aspiring content creators who want to use their platform for social impact?

Start now. There’s never was and never is a better time to be a creator. With an audience for everything, seize the opportunity to make a difference through your content.

Hair styling by Sujata, photography by Prathamesh Kumbhare

As a prominent figure in the Indian entertainment industry, how do you think representation and diversity in media can be improved?

Increased diversity in writers’ rooms is essential. By bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds and genders, we can tell more authentic and inclusive stories. I’m proud of the progress India has made in this regard, with a plethora of diverse and well-received stories being told across various platforms.

What are your future goals and aspirations, both personally and professionally?

Professionally, I aim to continue acting, writing, and creating content while expanding and engaging my online community. I aspire to use my platform to address important issues. Personally, my primary goal is happiness, and with the current trajectory, I believe I’m already on the right path.

Do you have a motto or words of wisdom you live by?

“Trust the process.” This mantra grounds me, reminding me that everything will fall into place eventually, whether things are going well or not.

Is there anything else you are excited about that you have coming up you would like to share?

I’m thrilled about the upcoming release of season 3 of my show “Mismatched” on Netflix and the supernatural thriller “Andhera” on Prime Video. Additionally, I’m excited about my book release and my association with the Paris Olympics, which presents new and unexpected opportunities. Overall, I have an exciting lineup of projects for 2024-25, with more in the pipeline.

For more from Prajakta, check out her socials: Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, Spotify

Makeup by Sahithya Shetty, hair styling by Rupali Dhumal, styling by Sakshi Pamnani, photography by Shivam Gupta

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