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It’s hard in a sense when there’s little representation of people like me in movies like there is with the African American or Hispanic ethnicities. The funny thing is that the word is this charged word in the business and there’s always this effort to cast more multi-ethnically and more diversely. ” and they would say that I’m not ‘Black’ or ‘Latina’, which is the latest hot thing. I do, however, play many different ethnicities quite well and you feel that being the best actor for the part would be enough, but when you’re faced with remarks like you’re not this enough or you’re that enough, you’re having to deal with what they have in their head as to what the standard is.
When people meet me, and I audition, as much as you hear: “Oh you’re great! ” At the end of the day when it’s up against me and another actress, more often than not, the role goes to the other person. It’s a struggle, and it’s very frustrating and there are times that I’ve wanted to scream. They simply are not willing to do the research to see that there is a whole spectrum of types when it comes to being South Asian.
Outside of this factor, which is enormous enough, being of a minority background and that too one that is not readily represented, there is a whole other struggle where people don’t know who you are and don’t want to know who you are. I literally want to scream sometimes, and I’m sure there have been times when I’ve lost my patience with people because they ask inappropriate questions. People don’t sometimes realize how ignorant they really are. I cannot for the life of me understand why there is so much emphasis placed on this stuff since there is no relevance whatsoever to the role I’m there to audition for. Can you believe, they have asked me what tribe I’m from! I think sometimes, not to go off too much on a tangent, but that it has a lot to do with good versus bad writing.
If I tell them I’m South Asian, they remark, “well you don’t have an accent”. People sometimes mistake someone’s ethnicity with being funny or someone’s character being funny.
Movies that are made in America by any ethnicity are movies about American experiences.
I did these movies because it was important for me to do movies that were about my background and who we are as Americans.
When people say that it bothers me because that’s not what they are.
Labeling them this way is doing what everyone else is doing to us, to ourselves.
I think that in many ways, casting people the way they do in Hollywood cuts the intelligence of viewers by pandering to what they think people will want to see rather than understanding the dynamics of today’s society’s acceptance of diversity. The funny thing is that visually you could be set up to fit into numerous ethnicities because you’re not stereotypical of the South Asian look or what westerners see as South Asian. That’s when I’ve had a little luck on my side and have gotten the role.When I graduated and started working in the professional world, I never in my life imagined someone would ask me as many times as they do a day, what my background is. I didn’t realize that I needed to have anything more associated with me than that. I realized very quickly that I don’t look at the world the way a lot of people do, but also that I needed to stick to the way I see it and hopefully with enough hard work I can still do what I want to do. Why do you feel that there is such a hang up with what an individual’s ethnic background is, especially in the case of those of us who were born and brought up in the West?I remember one of the first meetings I had with a manager where the meeting went really well and I felt comfortable, but then at the end of the meeting he said: “Great we want to sign you, which one of your names do you want to change? We all went to the same schools, had the same friends, wore the same clothes and ate the same food.They feel that if I add an accent, automatically it becomes funny because the writing itself lacks humour. It needs to pertain to something beyond an accent in order to retain the humour value.What they don’t realize is that today’s funny requires giving the public more credit than that to sustain their interest.