Hollywood is fighting back Trump: Karan Soni
American actor of Indian origin Karan Soni says Hollywood is fighting back all kinds of prejudice by ensuring equal representation in all areas of the entertainment industry.
These days it is believed that Hollywood is being more inclusive by casting actors from different cultures in roles that are not stereotypical of their backgrounds. However, American actor of Indian origin, Karan Soni, is happy with the fame he garnered by playing an Indian cab driver in Deadpool (2016). “It’s cool — professionally because I’m in something that almost everyone in the industry has seen, and personally, as I’m recognised nearly every day,” says Soni, who will also be seen in Deadpool 2. Excerpts from an interview:
Acting was not a planned course of career as you came to the US to study business. So, when did acting become important?
I started considering it after one year of college. Although I came to study business, I took some electives and one of them was theatre. My teachers were very encouraging and they said I should keep trying [for a break]. In my junior year of college (second year), I started looking for an agent.
Are people of colour (POC) now cast in roles that are not stereotypical of their ethnicity?
Representation of not only POC but also other areas such as women is changing every day. More women are behind the camera. With every project that comes out, people are conscious of equal representation. In an almost a weird way, I feel (Donald) Trump becoming President is helping as it’s Hollywood’s way of fighting back. Because a lot of Americans are feeling that our country’s international reputation is getting demeaned.
As a brown actor in the US, which is facing a wave of division, do you see a personal responsibility to stand up and speak up, to support diversity?
I became an American citizen two years ago. I got to vote in November. America has to speak up regardless of how they feel. It’s crazy how many people didn’t get to vote in November, [so for those who can] more than anything it’s very important to vote. Hopefully in the next election, people would just go out and vote, and really participate in the democratic process.
Are the lines between mediums blurring for actors as movie stars such as Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman are now working for TV shows too?
I think it’s completely gone now. You want to be part of stuff that’s good. You want to be proud of the work that you do. Sometimes, it’s hard to make stuff that’s good because there are so many cooks in the kitchen, people trying to make money. Actors are now going to do more TV because they want to be in something that’s good.
But, do you think in the future entertainment on big screen, small screen and online platforms can coexist without compromising on quality?
Quality-wise, it’s already happening. Online content in streaming channels are — if not better — just as good. At the end of the day whatever is best quality will be watched, which I think is really cool.
Any plans of working in Bollywood?
If an offer came to me I would consider it. And if it is good I’d take it up in a heartbeat. But I’m not actively looking out for it. I’d like to work with Karan Johar, as I grew up films such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2011). They are some of my favourite movies. I love masala movies. Among actors, I’d like to work with Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor.
Who do you see as inspirations?
When it comes to work ethics and business, I look up to Aziz Ansari. He’s got everything together on his own terms. He does stand-up, comes out with books, and has his own show. Personally, I like all actors who are mysterious and don’t have social media. Someone like Meryl Streep because I don’t know anything about her life. But anytime I see her in a movie, I think, ‘Wow, this is what you do’. People who you are judging based on their work, and not who they are dating and other stuff. One day, I’ll have the courage to leave social media. So far I feel major FOMO (fear of missing out).
Any behind-the-scenes anecdotes you’d like to share?
Many think I’m part of the crew and not an actor. A security guard once told me, ‘This is not parking for the crew.’ I said, ‘I’m not in the crew.’ And he wouldn’t believe me.
Have you ever found similarities between your real and reel life?
Yes, so I play Anish in Room 104 (aired on Star World Premiere HD at 10pm) whose mother is not tech savvy. In real life, my mom is technically challenged. She does not text at all. She loves to call me and talk to me.
Watch Karan in Room 104 trailer:
Follow @htshowbiz for more
The author tweets @iamsusanjose