You might know your Priyanka Chopra from your Kunal Nayyar, but let’s be honest about the lack of representation of Indian women on American television shows. While there are less than a handful of standout stars like Mindy Kaling got the lead in a hit TV show, it’s interesting that many have seen her in popular shows like The Big Bang Theory, Grey’s Anatomy, and others, but few know who she really is. Indian-American actor Sarayu Blue is now being known for her lead role in ‘I Feel Bad’, an NBC comedy show created by none other than Amy Poehler. Interestingly, the script was not written for a woman of color, but how did she find herself cast for the role?
“The entire show was even more different because it was being told from a female perspective”
What was nothing short of a pleasant surprise, her being cast as a lead role in an American TV show has gone on to show that indeed the entertainment industry is changing and although slow, this sort of news reports are more than welcome. “As an Indian woman, it meant even more because it is still rare for us to be seen in lead roles in the States. The biggest highlight for me though was that the role allowed for so much physical comedy. It was this delightful I Love Lucy-type role, a true comedic gem,” she said in an interview with Elle India. Moreover, the entire show was even more different because it was being told from a female perspective. Throughout her career, she like many has always felt that as a woman of color it takes time to be truly comfortable onset, but the more she worked and interacted with people, the more she trusted herself to do bring her best to work every day. ” I find the best way to overcome the challenge of an intimidating set is to have a strong support network and to get comfortable knowing that you’ve done good work, whether you get the validation on set or not,” she said.
“When NBC cast me, they re-wrote the storyline to be about an interracial family”
As an Indian-American woman, she often felt that she was the only voice because she was often the only South-Asian woman in the room, however, seeing women like her on-screen and cast in roles is important to her. Moreover, it is rare to see an Indian-American actor’s role be so funny, relatable and multi-faceted. “I’m not sure if many people know this but originally, Emet was not written as a specifically Indian character. When NBC cast me, they re-wrote the storyline to be about an interracial family. It was an enormous sea change to see that kind of shift happen on network television, and even more enormous to get to be a part of it. We’re already seeing it, but I look forward to seeing such changes happen more frequently. May it become the new normal,” she added. Oftentimes, people from a South-Asian heritage have often been placed in “doctor-roles” where they have a maximum of four lines and hence if this keeps on happening, neither the industry nor audiences will never know their potential and that is why I Feel Bad is a turning point for her and Indian-American actors.
Image credit: Sioux City Journal