hollywood

“Nostalgiacore” in the Time of Progress

I have a story idea that takes place in the early 90s and I’m having the hardest time getting started. Taking a closer look at what is causing my hesitancy, I find that it’s because the cast would have to be mostly white due to the historical context. To be more inclusive for people of color, how do I proceed?

One thing I’ve noticed about period TV programs is the noticeable erasure of people of color. One could possibly attribute this to a recreation of the “Hollywood version” of history, featuring all white leads, as well as actual history- where the storyline takes place in a workplace scenario where people of color were rarely (if ever) hired during this time. I love well done period TV shows, particularly when it serves as a metaphor for current societal issues. What doesn’t work for me in the constant repetition of revisiting the past in American television: zero people of color in leading or even guest-starring roles. While the country celebrates a return to the 80s genre TV movies with Netflix’s Stranger Things, I’m left wondering: why are we doing this again? Haven’t we fought tooth and nail to push away from all the character tropes of TV past?

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Stranger Things (Netflix)

Turns out people will eat it up. I know, I did too. For a few episodes. But I was horribly distracted by the lack of seeing something “new.” It was familiar, but not in a good way. It reminded me of a time lost, but it also reminded me that there is a psychological desire to cut non-white people out of the creative conversation. I don’t think that was the intention of the Duffer Brothers. As is the case with the Coen Brothers, “[the 80s, white Midwest] is the world we know.” As several smart people have pointed out- are aliens/zombies/vampires any easier to write about on a fictional level, without truly understanding them, living with, or growing up with them?

I’m starved for things like The Get Down. It takes place in the late 70s Bronx borough, and I can’t get enough of it. I was born in the 80s and I listen to every kind of music and I still understand the 70s nostalgia factor. But the show does not solely aim to tickle your easily picked at nostalgia scabs or heartstrings. From what I can tell (and I wasn’t there) it feels totally 70s in every aspect of the sense, but it’s also examining the underbelly from a fantastical perspective (as Baz Luhrmann often does and does well). The music speaks for itself and lives within a cast of highly spirited, talented actors.

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The Get Down (Netflix)

We see familiar faces from a legendary decade, people we’ve since celebrated for their skill in creating an entirely new, much needed musical genre to tear disco apart and destroy the status quo. Isn’t that what revolution is about? Isn’t that what art is about? The show’s format itself rips apart the norm. Baz Luhrmann for television, in it’s second Golden Age (can we call it the Platinum Age already?), co-written by the Pulitzer prize winning playwright, Stephen Adly Giurgis (Our Lady of 121st Street, Jesus Hopped the A-Train, Last Days of Judas Iscariot), the show is bound for a promising recipe of artistic excellence. And it delivers, all of these things: Nostalgia, top class talent, and a new way to recreate that specific time and place through fantasy.

What turns me off about Stranger Things– because it’s replicating, it features all the tropes we are desperately pushing away from. What holds me back from congratulating Stranger Things and anything else like it (let’s call it “Nostalgiacore”): while it remarkably recreates what we love about 80s film + TV, it also clearly showcases things that were wrong about 80s Hollywood, including all white casts with one token person of color, and stereotypical, tropey roles for women and girls. I enjoy period stories showcasing what society was genuinely like, but I do have an issue with revisiting a time in which Hollywood itself was less enlightened. Things that, should we see it in any other program, would make us cringe and trash it to pieces. Being “woke” has gotten to a point were it takes an exorbitant amount of forgiveness to get through certain films of “less enlightened times” and to me, it’s not excusable to recreate our past mistakes. Today, we want to see more from our media. Time to adapt.

Back to my story idea that takes place in a very white part of the country in the early 90s, in a very white “scene”: I’m going to do more research. If I can find the people of color in this narrative, I’d rather include them, especially if they were left out of historical documentation. Otherwise I feel like I’m doing a disservice to progress, and I’ll have to write about something else. The story is important for women (feminist), despite the scene in question being entirely dominated by white women (lacking intersectional feminism). I don’t want to careen the story into present day, but I don’t want to write “another story devoid of color” either, not for me, or anyone else. Especially when my (mixed) perspective includes color.

Have you ever hesitated to write something in the name of progress?

-Satu

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But What Do You Really Want?

You can’t go on Twitter or Facebook without at least 50 articles outlining the issue of “diversity in Hollywood.” If we are focusing purely on casting, what is it that we really want to see on the big screen?

When it comes to diversity, television has film beat. The only issue is that while TV casts boast highly diverse leads and guest-stars, they almost always fit in the stereotype box of race. Not necessarily the portrayal/performance of the race in question, but moreso the visual representation of the race in question. When I am called in to audition for any role, I briefly scan the competition in the waiting room and decide if I have a shot or not or if I was called in because of my skin and hair color, or the box that was checked under “ethnicity.” Sometimes I’ll be surrounded by beautiful brown-skinned Indian women with long braided dark hair wearing saris, other times I’ll be in the company of sleek, sophisticated ethnically ambiguous Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean types. Occasionally, for a drama series, I’ll be competing with different ethnicities in order to fill the “this role is ethnic and it doesn’t matter which kind” box. In the end I must wonder if the companies who make the final decisions utter the words “well last week we had an Asian so this week we probably should have a Latina instead.” More often than not, the smaller parts are on a roulette wheel of chance in terms of who gets the part after callbacks. With good reason. But for this reason, I think that diversity initiatives actually hold specifically mixed-race and non-stereotypical actors back.

I continue to write and produce content that I may act in to showcase my skill, but in the interim I keep auditioning for everything I am eligible for in order to get my foot in the door. I am grateful for every solid audition that comes my way. But I am constantly analyzing and wondering if there is a way to improve the diversity initiatives in casting to broaden the spectrum. While casting breakdowns continue to only have the five top ethnic choices, so long as they feature someone black, Asian, or hispanic- they pass the test. Meanwhile, a whole lot of “others” get shafted and will never get booked unless by pure luck or a specific vision by the writer. I was lucky enough to book a co-starring role on a prominent TNT procedural which was one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had on set. I applaud the casting directors and producers for having an inclusive show featuring all types of people in their cast on a weekly basis. I only wish all shows would reflect America this way, perhaps they may be more successful in the end for doing so. But it’s rare that I get called in for this sort of thing because my type is rarely called in at all, since we fall outside the usual race-box.

Actresses like Eva Longoria and Priyanka Chopra face a similar wall in the beginning of their career because they were considered “not ethnic enough” to give studios a pass for diversity. This includes all mixed-race actors. Yes, there is a box for that too, but it’s a miniscule category with fewer roles than Asians (who have the smallest number of representation across the board for media).

So what do we really want to see up there, in the lights? With the controversy of such films like Prince of Persia and Gods of Egypt where the predominantly white cast is playing parts that are not of their race, this is a hot topic among Hollywood players and audience members alike.  My firm belief is that, within the realm of TV and film, an actor should be allowed to portray whatever role they are able to portray. This, to me, means two things:

1) They must have the talent to play the role well, and

2) They should have the look to believably portray the part.

I am not in the camp that believes one must actually be what the character is in order to play the part, but I absolutely believe there should be more roles reflecting all parts of humanity and society. I never want to limit actors to the point that they are only allowed to play roles that are exactly what they are. NOTE: I’m bias, because, should that be the case, actors like me would never work. As far as white-washing is concerned, I believe Gerard Butler as a Greek, but not as an Egyptian. As for Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi, I think she looks like the character and has performed similar roles and is more than capable of playing the part- the part that is not necessarily Japanese, as it is indeed an android- however, if the entire cast is white-washed, then we have a problem. As with every film, it is a case by case basis and every individual will have their own opinion about it, and most certainly there will be outrage just as much as there will be excitement.

What we should demand is more inclusion. Keep writing the parts as unique and different as you can. The actors vying for the parts will prove themselves worthy, and the studios, (who will hopefully work on being more in touch with society and not so close-minded when it comes to race in casting) will cast accurately and efficiently.

I live for a day when the outrage subsides because the studios listened (to some of it), but also made qualified and careful casting decisions that A) Reflect society’s POV today and B) At least make an effort to cast somewhat appropriately when it comes to race. All we need to be as actors is look the part and play the part. We don’t necessarily have to be the part in all cases.

When I see a woman on screen kicking ass, I feel good. When I see a woman of color kicking ass on screen, I feel better. I dare the studios to connect with me, because I represent a pretty large piece of the pie.

Thoughts?

Satu

Brunette Ambition

Trying to find your place in this world is a daunting task, even when you are certain of your destiny. When there are hurdles left, right, and center, one must ask: Am I on the right path? Is this what I’m really meant to do?

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That brunette ambition. It’s all over my face. #werk

Having an unshakeable dream is a beautiful thing. But as I’ve come to notice (particularly after reading Sophie Amoruso’s “#Girlboss“) beware of your dream becoming your obsession. We’ve all heard the stern warnings of those who came before us “don’t let life pass you by.” In the end, I want to look back at my career and life and feel like I did enough. But I imagine that no true artist feels that way. Not the ones who created until death, anyhow.

When an actor has been plugging away for a certain number of years (let’s say, the proverbial “takes 10 years to make it,” or even 15. Shoot, maybe 18, professionally?), there is a time when you start analyzing and piecing together your career and seeing what the next big move is. Particularly when, from your perspective, it’s been moving far too slowly and there are several things out of your control (casting directors, the right agent, managers, publicists, lawyers… and so many other crucial “team members” that not every actor can afford to keep the machine going). A radical change is necessary. Sometimes it’s a bold haircut. Sometimes it’s a total 180. Sometimes it’s a different kind of performer skill. And other times it’s swimming into other creative areas in the field.

I can’t begin to express how thankful I am that I began with a B.A. in Communication Studies, studying such courses as philosophy, art history, film production, and documentary filmmaking. I’m thankful that I worked in TV production for my internship and then after my internship. I’m thankful that I kept up my filmmaking skills before and after drama school, so that when the despair of post-drama school creative voids set in, I was prepared to write and direct two short films and a pilot. Because after 7 years in New York and 5 years in LA, I needed these skills to make my bold entrance as a writer, director, actor, producer. No one is going to write that incredible part for me, at least not yet. I’m at the mercy of sub-par character descriptions and dialogue at the no/low-budget level. A great script is one in a million (okay maybe… a thousand). And the number of actresses that get to say those precious words are few and far in between. So here goes, I’m giving it a(nother) shot. I’m writing my own destiny.

It’s ultimately unsatisfying when you can’t crack the puzzle that is becoming a working actor hitting the pavement during pilot season with the best of them, auditioning 3-5x a week. You feel like you’ve tried everything, every photographer, every headshot, every outfit, every 5th tier agent. But you are simply not even invited to the dance to begin with. It really just boils down to supply and demand, and like any product that the public hasn’t seen before, you need to show them why they need you, why they can’t live without you.

The most important thing I learned since graduating from drama school is that writing is the greatest skill any of us could possess. Because my #1 goal is to be a working actor, I will do whatever it takes that doesn’t involve destroying my moral compass.

Pick up that pen. Ask “What would Bowie do,” and do that.

Time to see about that haircut 🙂

Satu

 

Don’t Be a Slave to Your Acting Career: Advice After Five Years in LA

This January marks the fifth year since I moved to Los Angeles from Astoria, Queens. I’ve seen this type of blog several times and thought I’d take a crack at it from the perspective of today’s advice to my January, 2011 self.

  1. Don’t waste time. Start creating.
    I didn’t waste any time when I first arrived. I immediately started working on my music and played a lot of shows solo for the first time (at the House of Blues- a life long dream, and the Viper Room- something I never thought I would do). Within two months I was cast as a lead in a feature film and got a manager. A few months later I got a commercial. But then there was a lot of nothingness for a few years. Few auditions. Fewer bookings. Perhaps it was because I didn’t have the best headshots, or the best representation. Or maybe it’s because of the race problem in casting. Who knows. But what I should have been doing during that time was writing. If there is any advice I wish they had prepared us for in drama school, it’s to write, endlessly.
  2. Avoid the food service industry at all costs. “It’s the only realistic survival job an actor can have.” Never was a bigger waste of my time than working as a restaurant hostess and bartender, all for the sake of “keeping my days open for auditions/having a flexible schedule”. Now, I do enjoy creating drinks and learning about booze (who doesn’t?), but ultimately, bartending was never quite as monetarily rewarding as it could have been. While the intention was to learn mixology so I could have a job and take it anywhere in the world and survive, after all these years working in restaurants- I have a gaping whole in my production resume that could have included perhaps associate producing at a network or production company. Now I must start from “scratch” once more. I’m far more grateful for my recent freelancing experiences as a production assistant on a major feature film.
  3. Don’t produce something you didn’t create unless you’re getting paid. I put two years of my life into a project that I was starring in, but didn’t create. It’s something I believed in and wanted to see the light of day, but after raising the money, after the filming, after everything was done- during a pitch meeting with the writer and another actor I began to realize that no matter how much I was involved or how much work I put into producing it, I could be cut out at any moment because I didn’t create it. Not only that, every time I was pitching the project, once they found out I didn’t create it, the pitch was off the table. Moral of the story- if you plan on putting hard time and energy into a project as an unpaid producer, write it yourself (or as a team).
  4. What Would Bowie Do? And do that. Don’t hesitate on the ideas that keep circling in your mind. It keeps coming back for a reason. Develop it. See it to the end. Dare to be an artist, for heaven’s sake. It’s what you came here to do. Figure out who the fuck you are and be that person, whatever incarnation it needs to be. If you are a musician, embrace that identity. In drama school I had to strip away that musician ego I had spent years building up, and it left me without an identity for years. I’m only now coming back to that girl in a new light and saying “fuck the rules” and “fuck the past (-Man Up)” and moving forward as the person I want to be, not the person casting wants me to be.
  5. Don’t pay for advice. We go back to “fuck the rules.” All the ‘workshops’ this industry offers talent are a waste of time, no matter how many people defend the process- it’s criminal and it sucks. If you want real advice, make solid relationships to industry players and take them out to lunch. Generic advice never helped anyone. Avoid at all costs. “Get a haircut, you look too ethnic.” “Change your name.” “Don’t tell people you’re Trinidadian, they might think you are black.” “Don’t put ‘Canadian-American passport’ on your resume, someone may not hire you because you’re taking all our jobs.”  << All fabulously horrid advice from “professionals” who aren’t even working and thrive off of desperate actors trying to hone their brand. Forget these crooks and talk to people you trust. Take a public poll. Whatever. But be very wary of workshops, career consultants, and any other type of money grubbing lunatics that pay their bills with aspiring movie stars fresh off the boat. Certainly there are great teachers out there, but for the love of the craft and everything sacred, do your research. If you want references, contact me directly.
  6. Shoot with everyone, not just “the best headshot photographers in LA.” I’ve shot with everyone. I taught myself how to shoot headshots because I’d say 1/100 photographers I’ve shot with actually knows how to open me up and also shoot my angular features. The two I can think of shot me for free. The best photoshoots I’ve had were in New York with fashion photographers. I felt more free and thus was more expressive because we were making art.Headshots are the bane of my existence and have been a casting problem from day one. I look different in every photo depending on lens/lighting/makeup/attitude of the photographer. So shoot as much as you can, there are plenty of photographers out there that need models. Again, do your research and take a buddy if you need to. It’s not great to be alone with photographers because a lot of them take advantage of young attractive actresses- so ask references first and take a friend. If they don’t want you to bring a friend with you, just say no.
  7. Spend more time getting your reel solid, less time crafting your “Brand.” In the end, you have to deliver the goods. A high percentage of talent is booked straight from their reels without auditioning. If it’s between two actors- the director will probably look closely at the reel to decide. It’s easier to create a brand than it is to create content for the brand, at least for me. I could spend all day editing photos and designing websites and graphics for myself but when it comes to writing a short film that can showcase my skills, it couldn’t get more difficult. I’ve written many, many “scenes” for my own reel, I even started a business producing actor’s reels and made a killing. It honed my writing and directing skills. I could crank out fifteen-twenty scenes for someone else in a day. But to write for myself is the most difficult task, so if you find yourself in this conundrum, partner up with fellow actor-writers and write for each other.
  8. Don’t ignore other opportunities. If something opens up and you are a perfect fit, dare to walk through the door. Don’t say no to opportunities that could be right for you just because “I have to be available for auditions.” My biggest regret is not going to South by Southwest with my band because of that very reason. It would have been the experience of a lifetime, and I missed it because I’m a slave to my acting career. Don’t be a slave. Be an artist. Go where the wind takes you. If you are good at writing, directing, producing, music… pursue those things. Your strengths will dictate your success. Don’t ignore them. Go for it. You never know what path may lead you to your destiny. 

One last bit: Don’t ever forget the things that make you passionate. I want every actor who just got off the bus and is looking for a new apartment, survival job, acting coach, headshot photographer, agent, manager… please read this and heed my advice.  Oh and you’ll notice that everyone has an opinion of what you should be. And when they say “be yourself,” don’t listen to anything else they have to say about you, because everyone sees you differently.

Now crank up Big Data’s “Business of Emotion” and let yourself fly 🙂

Your actress-singer/songwriter-filmmaker,

-Satu Runa @saturuna

Why I Wish Hollywood Would Reform “Breakdowns”

For years I have been tackling the issue of “race” in casting.  It plagues me, fascinates me, and at the same time, frustrates me to no end.  Is there a solution to the “race problem” in Hollywood, and if so, what can we do about it?

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The Racial Diversity of Asia (1904)

The solution I have come to over 15+ years in the entertainment industry is to create your own work, take a strong stance and lead your team in the direction you would like to go.  Write for yourself, because no one else will read your mind.  However, when it comes to casting “breakdowns,” the term used for casting purposes when “breaking down a script” circling all characters and describing the roles actor’s would play based on the information from the script itself alone, the descriptions tend to be very limited in terms of race alone.

While they only have the text from the original script to go by, Breakdowns Services duty is to find this information and place it in a catalogue for talent agents to submit their clients for potential auditions.  It looks something like this:
[ANNE (f, 20’s, Caucasian)] Lead.  Blonde.  All-American girl.  Educated, sharp, and lively.
[JOE (m, 30s, Caucasian)] Lead.  Rugged type.  [JUAN (m, 45, Latino)] Supporting.  Joe’s Mexican neighbor.
[MEG (f, 20s, Asian)] Supporting.  Anne’s friend from college.
and if you are lucky:
[SARA (f, 20s, OPEN ETHNICITY)] Florist.  One line. Supporting.

The problem being:  Like any other “race,” there are several types of people that fall into the categories.  “Asian” in Hollywood typically means Chinese, Japanese, or Korean descent.  This excludes the several other types of Asians on the market, mainly Indians (which is a category I sometimes but barely fall into despite my genetics).  Anyone who falls into the category of “ethnically ambiguous” or “mixed-race” (me) always gets shafted and never gets called in for the stereotypical role of TV casting, and thus never has a chance to “break in” with racial/culturally driven co-starring roles the traditional Hollywood way (Hollywood: honestly, you can keep them). 

Breakdowns Services are almost at a disadvantage when it comes to equality in casting as they only have the screenwriter’s to pull from and can’t make any suggestions or changes from the scripts they are given.  Thus, if “Judy, 23, Asian, Dog-walker” is all we see in the script, that’s all we will see in the breakdowns.  Then, it’s up to casting directors to bring in a variety of Asian-Americans or flat out Asian people to appease the director, whom also may have a highly limited view of casting color-blind.

So who’s to blame?  In the end, it’s the writers for their lack of imaginative description of minor to major characters, casting directors for not bringing in enough diverse options, and directors for choosing the same stereotype every time (mainly in television and commercials).  And of course, anyone that suffers from this type of casting, as it is our responsibility to write new stories and bring in new faces with strong, descriptive, diverse,  rich backgrounds not limited to the European colonial view of the world [White, Black, Asian, Latino, Native American, & Any Ethnicity].

While it makes me sad that I may never portray a Finnish person or any Scandinavian in live action media (which is a huge part of my heritage), I may just have to write that into my next script.  The general public already has such a limited view of the world and I believe it is my responsibility to open their eyes to a unique story like mine.

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Jenette Goldstein as “Vasquez” in Aliens

People who are mixed-race fall behind the curtain all too often in Hollywood.  Vin Diesel, who just earned his star on the Walk of Fame this August, had to fight his way to stardom by proving that a mixed person has a larger audience and relates to more people that someone who is one “race.”  I couldn’t agree more, however, in the end:  It is the human experience that we relate to, not the color of someone’s skin.  I’ve always believed that the best person for the role is the best actor for the role, the one who can believably physically portray the character, and the one who has the most talent to portray it [case in point, Jenette Goldstein, who portrayed the Hispanic role “Vasquez” in James Cameron’s “Aliens” is American white/Jewish.  And she killed it].

Bottom line:  I’m not asking for racial accuracy as much as I’m asking for diversity.  If the specific ethnic background doesn’t necessarily matter in the role, it would be great if writers could spell that out in the script, if Breakdowns could honor that, and casting directors call in a properly *diverse group of people, and if, in the end, the directors could select the best actor for the role regardless of race.

-Satu [the “multi-facial” actress]

*not limited to what only you think it is, but what the world does.

Bollywood Bound

I sauntered into my unkempt studio apartment at 5 AM with the largest grin on my face and a few tears forming in the corners of my eyes.  I felt so full- of love, life, and happiness. 

It has been a very long time since I have worked on a production that sincerely left me so culturally sweetened and soulfully expanded.  I’d have to say, it was since I last worked in New York on a few theater productions before my intensive dramatic training began.  At the Triad Theater on 72nd and Broadway, I played the role of an Indian woman’s “heart” personified, dressed in traditional Indian clothing.  It was my first stage production after graduating college and moving to the Big Apple.  I was the smallest part in the play, but the most ethereal, and the most “Indian.”  It felt great to be recognized as one, and even better to play one.  These past few days I had an even stronger feeling of being culturally aware and full on the set of a Bollywood feature, my first.

Satu, Fernanda, and Nadia on set of "Punjabi Professional"

Satu Rautaharju, Fernanda, and Nadia on set of “Punjabi Professional”

I was cast as a professional dancer, also my first time hired solely as a dancer.  Dancing was actually my very first experience in the arts.  My mother enrolled me in ballet school at the age of 4 and I continued intensive ballet training for 8 years.  Due to a broken ankle at the age of 12, I stopped dancing and pursued music.  I was secretly glad I had to quit, because nothing intimidated me more than dancing in front of an audience.   I was also very shy as we had just moved to the Southern United States, from Canada, and I had a severe case of culture shock (despite everyone speaking the same language). 
As a child, few girls in ballet class were curious, “that’s a strong tan you’ve got.”  From that moment on (and never before) I became highly aware that I was different in this community and had to think of clever answers to questions I had never faced.  In North Carolina, you were either “Black” or “White.”  They had never seen me before, and it made it very difficult to be outgoing as a performer, and as a girl.  At least- until I became a young adult, then I started to own myself.
I picked up dance about 10 years later after the accident, in New York City, where I traveled to become a movie star, rock singer, TV host, and runway model.  I wanted to be EVERYTHING, and ignoring one passion means the rest would die.  I took up ballet, jazz, tap, bellydance, and Bhangra, ANYTHING to get in touch with my physical actor- and also my heritage.  I found in Bhangra/Bellydance a home for my heart and soul.  It was just for fun, but I never realised just how large a part of me was a dancer until working on this Bollywood film this past Memorial Day weekend.

I never considered myself a dancer.   I pursued acting full-strength, with TV hosting being something I “was good at,” and singing, a battle I overcame when I moved to Los Angeles in 2011.  Performing music was also my biggest fear, and I conquered that fear by playing at all the fabled legendary venues of LA.  Who knew it could be so easy to just do it?  It’s still very difficult for me, but I love performing- any chance I get.  Acting jobs are the smallest part of my career, despite it being the main focus and goal.  Everything leads somewhere.  And in Bollywood, if you don’t dance, sing, AND act, you are missing out!

I auditioned for this Bollywood film, I tried my best, and I was truly uncertain if I was going to be cast.  I knew in my heart that I did my best dancing possible, full of life and heart, because that’s what Bollywood is all about.   I remembered to smile with my WHOLE heart 🙂  Two days later, I found myself on set surrounded by some of the most amazing women I’ve ever met, dancing my heart away, 12 hours at a time.  It was painful, strenuous, difficult, and extremely challenging- but in the end graciously rewarding (and it looked SO good!).

I can’t wait for the film to release- apparently it’s going to be HUGE in India.  My mother always told me to go after the Bollywood films because I have “the look.”  I always scoffed at that because I wasn’t born there, I don’t know the language, and I am only half Indian.  I quickly learned that it doesn’t matter.  Because it’s in my BLOOD (and feet, arms, body, hands).  I hope to play more dancing roles in the future.  It’s hard work, but ultimately- from a performer standpoint- one of the most rewarding forms of artistic expression, ever.  I knew I would make it to Hollywood.  I never dreamed that I would make it to Bollywood, too!  This one is for you, Gramma Acclema and Grampa Ishmael.  I love you.

Satu (the “Finndian”)

Being Type-Cast as Something Cool

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Asia Argento

Everyone always complains about being “type-cast” as an actor or actress, and I was even worried about that at a certain point.  Now I’m embracing it, because I’m being type-cast as something really cool.
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I have many idols, including Angelina Jolie, Asia Argento, Jodie Foster, Sigourney Weaver, and Rachel Weisz, to name a few.  All of these women are incredibly sexy, powerful, strong, and massively talented.  I would be liar if I said that I didn’t spend most of my adolescent life and early acting years molding my career and image after these women.  Why not?  They kick ass!  Lately it’s become clear to me who in the industry likes me, casts me, and how they see me.   In the beginning, I thought I was going to be type-cast as an Indian woman.  I’m up for playing anything, but it would be a waste if that was the only way Hollywood would ever see me.  I totally got it all wrong!   I’m getting called in and cast for a lot of strong, sexy, lesbian roles.  This is the precursor to strong, sexy, leading women in action films, so I am more than okay with this type-casting phenomenon.  I enjoy playing a lesbian.  I think it’s a gift for an actor to get a part that is so heavily labeled by society, especially if it’s not a label they identify with.  There is something very freeing about portraying someone with such a strong sense of self, it’s at once commanding and liberating.  With every character goes a lot of research, construction and creativity.  Oddly enough, whenever I play a lesbian, I become a woman that is more comfortable and confident with her self as a whole.  Someone who is unafraid of the world and what they think.  A big f*** you to anyone that stands in her way, shouting loudly, “This is who I am, and f*** you if you don’t like it.”  I have played these roles so much that I am starting to own that part of me, and I like it.  All women should never feel so oppressed that they can’t be slightly masculine or speak up for themselves when necessary.  Abandon all gender typing, and be what you want to be.

Bring it on, Hollywood!   You know where to find me 🙂

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