Just because Padma Lakshmi has it all — a gorgeous face, a perfect body, an enviable career — doesn't mean that her life is perfect 24/7. Recently, when she was going through her divorce from writer Salman Rushdie, Padma was so depressed that she couldn't get out of bed. In the April issue of Glamour, Padma says that her unhappiness inspired her to get out there and do something, and she decided to get involved with the AIDS charity Act Now India. "I thought to myself, Hey, if anything, this will keep me from just lying there crying all day," Padma says of her newfound philanthropy. She spent her Delhi days touring orphanages filled with children with AIDS. "One look at these children," says Padma, "and you think, OK, I don't have it worse than these people. I should just get over myself." But Padma is no stranger to hardship herself.
When she was fourteen, Padma got into a car accident in Malibu that left her with a long scar on her arm. That scar almost destroyed her burgeoning modeling career. She also had to battle the dominant "waif" mode to realize her modeling dreams. Padma told Vogue in a 2001 interview that her "voluptuous 34C-24-34" frame almost kept her from competing against the Kate Mosses on the runway.
Luckily, Padma persevered, and after writing two best-selling cookbooks (Easy Exotic and Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet), she is poised to become a worldwide branding superstar. She helps her naturally glowing skin maintain its burnished glow with Dr. Sebagh creme extreme maintenance, and in an interview with Vanity Fair last December, Padma said she hoped her name might be on as many food labels as Paul Newman and as many clothing labels as Jennifer Lopez. Unfair right? Especially since she also sizzled on the Emmy red carpet in a white satin Dolce & Gabbana gown.