This year’s Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival chose Supinder Wraich as their MISAFF15 Star. Supinder is a talented, young South Asian actress from Toronto.
I had the chance to speak to Supinder about her career as an actress and here is what she had to say!
How did you get involved with MISAFF?
Anya McKenzie was at the Canadian Film Centre (CFC). She graduated from their Producers program. And I graduated from their actor’s conservatory a few years before Anya. Recently I’ve done a lot of work with them, and I think she watched my work from there. And it pretty much just came from there. And I think that’s the best thing you can hope for as an actor, when your work speaks for itself and people flock to you.
How did you start your acting career?
It was weird, I always wanted to be a performer of some sort, I didn’t know what it was. I can’t sing for the life of me. If you ever meet my sister she can tell you how much I can’t sing. But then when I was in high school I used to go on Craigslist and find little gigs I could audition for, and I would even do music video shoots and lie to my mom saying I was sleeping over at a friends house and I’d be working as an actor.
I went to school not far from here, Mentor College, a math’s and sciences school. Nothing artistic about it. And when I would meet somebody who was artistic I would get so jealous, like how do they do that?
So finally, when I went away to university and had a say over my own time and my own life, I started taking acting classes. When I started acting I thought it was this thing where you get to pretend to be somebody else. And really this class was about revealing who you are and your own insecurities and I thought it was really interesting. And had it been the other thing I don’t think I’d still be doing it, because there’s no foundation to it. But this thing about my pain is somebody else’s pain, my happiness is somebody else’s happiness, and I actually get to communicate to an audience, and we get to create this thing together, I think that’s really interesting.
Have you got what you expected to get out of your career when you began?
No, because then I would stop.
I was having this conversation with a friend of mine recently, when you start acting or when you start in any sort of artistic field, you have this idea of what it’s going to be like. And then you do that one job and it’s not what you think it was going to be like. And then you do that second job and it’s not what you think it was going to be like. And I think that, to my detriment, and to a lot of artists’ detriment you get an idea that you think it’s going to be like this. And then constantly you’re trying to reach that thing of whatever you think it’s going to be like, like it’s going to be easy or one-day things are just going to fall into place, or one-day I won’t have to worry about how good I am or anything else. And in my mind, that place exists, but I also know that place isn’t real. So no I haven’t gotten to where I thought I was going to get to.
How does being a South Asian Woman define your career?
I think there are two answers to that. One because there’s fewer South Asian actresses, the roles that do come your way, there’s a one in ten chance that you might get them. As opposed to one in a hundred thousand chance. Also, because you’re South Asian, the rest of the roles out there are not always made available to you. That is changing, but you still get less of a piece of the pie. When you get your piece, you have a bigger chance of getting that piece. So it’s a complicated question.
This is a question that I get asked a lot, like what makes you different for being South Asian, and I don’t really have an answer to it. Because we both go out for roles that aren’t specifically South Asian. And then you have a benefit, because if they’re casting South Asian or ethnic, you think I have a better chance of getting this than a white girl. But at the same time there are also 20 roles you don’t get called in for, because you’re South Asian.
Sarena, do you have an answer to that?
Sarena Parmar: What I think is really cool too is that sometimes when there is a role for South Asian parts and maybe it is against your type, we get to go out for those roles. So like maybe someone that is very tough, or street smart that maybe we wouldn’t necessarily go out for if it was an open casting call, but we get to go out for because they want a South Asian. So then, we have a way to expand how people see us, more than like a blonde blue-eyed girl might only go out for cheerleaders or something like that.
Supinder Wraich: The way that it’s helped is it’s a way in. And it’s a way in to change people’s minds. I think because you have an entry way that sometimes I get angry at it, because I’m like you’re only calling me in because you need to see a South Asian for this part so you can see that you’ve seen a South Asian. It’s also an entry way, let me change your mind. Because this is my opportunity to get in.
What are your goals for the next 3-5 years?
It’s a hard industry; it really goes up and down. So one of my personal goals for myself is to stop comparing myself with others, and be happy with my own success and find that sort of peace with myself. Then career wise, I would really like to be a part of something that I’ve written. You know cause you tell other peoples stories all the time, and that’s wonderful, that’s what we as actors do. But I would really really love to say ‘hey, here’s my story and I’m putting myself in it’. And to create a collaboration around an idea of my own would be lovely.