August 23, 2021
August 25, 2021



Living’s celebs said it!

Azraa Killru compiles a compendium of trends and their trendsetters in the last 16 years

Since Living’s inception in 2005, readers have been able to garner insights into their favourite personalities in the world of grit, glitz and glamour. These celebrities hail from several lifestyle sectors that have evolved over the years – viz. arts and entertainment, music and fashion, beauty and healthcare, sports… and even business.

All the ladies and gentlemen in this exclusive commemorative cover story have contributed in unique ways to their respective fields of endeavour; and as we look back at their achievements, Living also takes a sneak peek into how the sectors they represent have evolved over the years.

For example, sports has always had cricket at the top of the mind; but football and rugby football have also come to the fore among Sri Lankan fans over the years. Other sporting events and activities too have hogged the spotlight in recent times.

Be it the young go-karter Yevan David, who won the 2021 Champions of the Future Karting Race; swimming heartthrob and top athlete Matthew Abeysinghe; or fellow Olympian at the 2020 Tokyo Games Mathilda Karlsson – the first Sri Lankan to qualify for the Olympics in the equestrian category – we islanders are surely celebrating diverse sporting heroes these days.

Meanwhile, fashion trends have undergone more than mere cosmetic changes. With sustainable and ethical fashion grabbing the headlines, it didn’t take long for local fashionistas to sit up and take notice.

Home to a thriving apparel industry, Sri Lanka produces technologically advanced and green apparel that is sold at international retail clothing chains. However, becoming mainstream in haute couture is a slow process and we’re not quite there yet.

But the requisite changes are in the pipeline…

No longer is thrift fashion looked down upon as being only for the needy; and reducing fast fashion has become a hot topic since of late.

Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) is a highly anticipated event in the catwalk arena; and this year too, maestros in the field displayed their creations with aplomb. They included Sonali Dharmawardena, Charini Suriyage, Fouzul Hameed, Aslam Hussein and others.

The business sphere has also exploded and offered ample opportunities for even those with minimal resources to establish startups, thanks to social media marketing and e-commerce. This has gone a long way towards creating new employment opportunities and fresh streams of income while the pandemic has caused the fall – and rise, in some cases – of several industries.

Finally, the world of entertainment has extended the gateway for more talent to emerge. To this end, YouTube content creators and social media bloggers have risen in both numbers and prominence in the last few years.

Music has evolved rapidly to suit modern tastes. At the time Living first came out, singers such as Bathiya and Santhush (BNS), Iraj Weeraratne, Ashanthi De Alwis and Kasun Kalhara, as well as Umara and Umaria Sinhawansa, were dominating the industry.

And along with their music came waves of change…

The attendant shift from a classical mindset to melodies throbbing with thunderous beats, glorious medleys and a kaleidoscope of colours, sounds and styles, kept audiences enraptured as well as enamoured of contemporary music.

These upbeat and increasingly popular renditions were instant hits among the youth.

Fast forward a decade and a half... and the tastes of listeners have changed yet again. This time around, they look for a greater purpose, more meaning and musical compositions that drive transformation in often subtle but always powerful ways.

For example, the latest single ‘Nidahase’ by Ashanthi, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), raises awareness on domestic violence by life partners.

Songs that address workplace gender discrimination, suicide awareness and motivational concepts have also been explored.

So as listeners become more woke, it makes sense to create musical content that transcends entertainment to touch on matters affecting and transforming humanity.



Kumar Sangakkara

is a cherished cricketing idol in Sri Lanka and the world over, loved for his finesse in the field and larger-than-life personality, which saw him being crowned as Living’s ‘Personality Of The Year’ in 2005. He is only one of two Sri Lankans to be awarded LMD’s ‘Sri Lankan Of The Year’ title on two occasions.

I want to be a better batsman, a better wicketkeeper and a more important team member – where my contribution will be worthwhile to the entire team"


2006 (MAY-JUNE)

Arjuna Ranatunga

is a notable icon in Sri Lanka’s cricketing field, having led the historic team to its legendary 1996 Cricket World Cup victory, thereby earning the nation a reputation for explosive sporting talent in the international arena.

We were not a brilliant team; but we were very united and had a plan – we had a strong batting lineup, our fielding was good and the bowling disciplined"



Mahela Jayawardene

is yet another cricketing superstar revered for his contribution to the sport as much as his dignified persona and shrewd on-field leadership. A stylish batsman, coach and philanthropist, he is known as one of the best cricketing brains the country has  produced.

I played all kinds of sports but cricket was my passion – because every day, I basically lived and breathed cricket"



Angelo Mathews

counts record-breaking feats to his name and has been a part of many of Sri Lanka’s memorable ICC World Twenty20 games. He also gained a reputation for being one of the few international players in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the time of his exclusive interview with Living.

We must be friendly and treat everyone with respect – that’s our obligation as national cricketers"



Muttiah Muralitharan

is famed for his unconventional bowling action, which has been fundamental in securing a very special record – the highest number of wickets in both Test cricket and One Day Internationals (ODIs).

A winning team is made up of players who have a mindset where the all-important victory ultimately rests in the players’ hands – how well we play and how well opposing teams play"



Lasith Malinga

was then described as the ‘blond bombshell’ when his hairstyle inspired millions of fans worldwide as much as his bowling talents did. This unpretentious sporting star was recognised as one of the ‘most feared speedsters in international cricket.’

We are the Sri Lankan cricket team – our background, culture and religion are immaterial; and since cricketers are chosen for their ability, nothing else should matter"


2016 (JULY)

Matthew Abeysinghe

is Sri Lanka’s record-breaking athlete who created waves at several international swimming competitions and represented Sri Lanka at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this year.

When you’re doing something your own way, you can do it much better than following the herd – that’s what I want to try and convince all young Sri Lankans to do"



Dimuth Karunaratne

is presently the captain of Sri Lanka’s Test cricket team. Recognised as a left-handed ‘red ball specialist,’ he is famed for his centuries in the second innings of Test matches and rates among the best opening batsmen in the longer version of the gentlemen’s game.

It’s a very significant and swashbuckling year right now (quote from November 2019) and perhaps one mistake less would or could have been better"

Inside Story FASHION



Piorina Fernando

is a supermodel who has a keen interest in theatre, sport and academics. Her entry into the fashion industry was unplanned but she made a name for herself with her killer looks and personality.

I find intelligence quite stimulating and it’s ultimately inner beauty that comes up trumps"



Michiko Chiba

is a popular model and dancer who chose her passion over an opportunity to pursue further education at Harvard University. She possesses a Mensa level IQ.

Hard work and persistence, combined with unending hope and faith, lead to success… And kindness is the answer to most of what ails the world"


2019 (JULY)

Shivani Vasagam Wedanayake

is a multi-talented personality and was one of the most photographed cover girls in Sri Lanka in the 1990s, as well as being a model and beauty queen. She’s a published poet, trainer and motivational speaker, and also the cofounder of one of the pioneer web development companies in the country.

Stereotypes are dying – now we’re seeking happiness in what we have and who we are; and we want to see that diversity represented"



Christina Peiris

was conferred the Miss Universe Sri Lanka title in 2017, setting the beauty pageant stage on fire. She is also a fashion designer, beauty blogger and popular social media celebrity who devotes her time to charitable causes.

There’s not a single thing I can think of that I’d want or need and that alone makes my heart feel so full – I’m blessed with the essentials in life"

Inside Story OTHERS



Dharshan Munidasa

is a self-taught maestro in the culinary arts. His restaurants – Nihonbashi and Ministry of Crab – made the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. This creative mastermind also hosts a popular TV series.

Cooking is something that I love – and I never tire of experimenting with food since I find it therapeutic"



Otara Gunewardene

needs no introduction. A popular figure both in the business and philanthropic worlds, she is loved for her animal welfare activism and disruption of the fashion market in Sri Lanka with her erstwhile retail chain ODEL.

I promote buying from vendors who are dedicated to causes and charities – it’s not about the gift but helping people and the communities attached to it"



Dr. Asha de Vos

is a marine biologist and ocean educator who pioneered the blue whale research project in the Indian Ocean. A senior TED personality and founder of Oceanswell, which is Sri Lanka’s first marine conservation and research organisation, she was selected for the BBC’s ‘100 Women’ list and LMD’s ‘Sri Lankan Of The Year’ title in 2018.

Every year is about how to be the change I want to be; it’s the one resolution I can keep – to leave the world a better place than I found it"



Murad Ismail

is a celebrated architect whose imaginative concepts span the island in the form of hotels, restaurants and homes. A cofounder of MICD Associates, he is the only Sri Lankan architect to have designed two Four Seasons properties.

I found designing to be addictive because it offers the chance to do what you think is right"




Bathiya Jayakody

is part of a dynamic duo that took Sri Lanka by storm when they forayed into the music industry in the late 1990s. They count over 50 number one hit singles and six platinum selling mainstream albums, and have contributed soundtracks for movies. At present, he’s a Director at BNS Productions.

Make Sri Lanka a major force in the entertainment arena in the region"



Santhush Weeraman

is the other half of the BNS duo whose charismatic personality has added a touch of flavour to their musical creations. Together, their voices have occupied a permanent place in every Sri Lankan music lover’s heart. He is a shareholder at BNS Productions.

Every Sri Lankan, whether a tea plucker or farmer, should be made to feel proud that he or she is a valuable citizen and contributor to the country"



Natasha Rathnayake

is an award-winning singer who is famed for her jazz musicals and powerful vocals. She is also a songwriter, model and dancer.

I consider my talent a blessed gift given from above and I need to make the most of it – because as God gives, He can take it away at any time"



Pooja Umashankar

is an award-winning movie actress who has appeared in Indian and Sri Lankan films. A celebrated media personality, her graceful good looks and vivacious personality have won her roles in successful movies and several modelling projects.

If there are issues that I feel I should get involved in, I will make it my responsibility to do so"



Jacqueline Fernandez

is a Bollywood icon whose career steered towards acting after her crowning glory at the Miss Universe Sri Lanka pageant in 2006. Making an appearance alongside renowned co-stars in Indian movies, she is a Sri Lankan raised in Bahrain who calls herself a ‘nature loving gypsy.’ She was LMD’s ‘Sri Lankan Of The Year’ in 2017.

I start my mornings with warm water, honey and lime – my mornings are incomplete without fruits as they give good sugars and carbs to kick-start the day"


2018 (OCTOBER)

Dominic Kellar

is a multi-passionate individual – actor, comedian, quizmaster and radio host among myriad roles he has played throughout his illustrious career.

Don’t take yourself too seriously – in time, this too shall pass"



Rohan De Lanerolle

is an internationally recognised musician whose remarkable career has received multiple accolades. He is known for his solo performances and as one half of the De Lanerolle Brothers.

I want to be a good and helpful human being; and where music is concerned, I want to give joy to others"



Ishan De Lanerolle

is the Director of De Lanerolle Brothers and founder of The Voice, which produces musical talent that’s loved for its ethereal performances

It’s a time of family and people coming together to celebrate the season (not forgetting the lonely and those in despair).."



Nimmi Harasgama

is a TV, theatre and film artiste, as well as a writer and producer whose work has gained fame beyond our shores. She is the recipient of numerous international accolades including a ‘Best Actress Award’ at the Las Palmas International Film Festival in Spain.

I’ve worked with amazing actors who are of a different calibre and in a separate league – but they give so much of themselves to get the best out of you"


2019 (AUGUST)

Dmitri Gunatilake

is a talented singer, actress, vocal trainer and music director whose performances have received critical praise and acclaim.

I give everything when I perform because I want audiences to feel what I’m giving them, and be moved and transported by it – and always remember"



Gehan Blok

is the cofounder of Blok & Dino. He is also a standup comedian, an actor, a writer, a filmmaker, a producer, a director and a voice artiste – and he has an unquestionable force of power in the digital and content marketing arena.

Christmas is about family and togetherness, as well as giving and peace – it’s a great example of what the country should be like every day"



Dino Corera

is the cofounder of Blok & Dino and the CEO of Layup, which offers corporate training. Famed for his acting, radio and YouTube presence, he is also a standup comedian, and a broadcast and digital media strategist.

Stop people from being so overly politically correct about things but grant everyone the ability to take a joke and be more understanding of each other"


2020 (JUNE)

Feroze Kamardeen

is a former actor who took up directing. He has aced the stage with his outlandish performances and entertained audiences with his prowess for comedy.

I have always believed in the power of stage per-formances to move audiences"


2019 (JUNE)

Thaji Dias

is a dancing diva who is renowned for her elegant performances that enthral audiences. She is also the principal dancer at the Chitrasena Dance Company.

We must make the most of the time we have left because as dancers and performers, we have a very short career span so every moment is precious"

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