Jacqueline Fernandez (born 11 August 1985) is a Sri Lankan actress, model and the winner of the Miss Universe Sri Lanka pageant of 2006 who predominantly works in Hindi films. In 2009, she debuted with Aladin and since then has established a career in the Hindi film industry. Fernandez was born and raised in Bahrain to a multiracial Eurasian family of Sri Lankan, Canadian, and Malaysian descent. After graduating in mass communication from the University of Sydney and working as a television reporter in Sri Lanka, she joined the modeling industry. She was crowned Miss Universe Sri Lanka in 2006, and represented her country at Miss Universe 2006.
While on a modelling assignment in India in 2009, Fernandez successfully auditioned for Sujoy Ghosh’s fantasy drama Aladin, which marked her acting debut. Fernandez had her breakthrough role with the psychological thriller Murder 2 (2011), her first commercial success. This was followed by glamorous roles in the commercially successful ensemble-comedy Housefull 2 (2012) and the action thriller Race 2 (2013), which garnered her an IIFA Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination. Fernandez went on to star in the top-grossing action film Kick (2014) and the comedies Housefull 3 (2016) and Judwaa 2 (2017).
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.
Jacqueline Fernandez was born on 11 August 1985, in Manama, Bahrain, and was raised in a multi-ethnic family. Her father, Elroy Fernandez, is a Sri Lankan Burgher, and her mother, Kim, is of Malaysian and Canadian 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 Sinhalese and Tamils 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. After receiving her early education in Bahrain at Sacred Heart School, she studied mass communication at the University of Sydney in Australia. After graduating she did a couple of television shows in Sri Lanka. She also attended the Berlitz school of languages, where she learned 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 and young female singer Umaria Sinhawansa.