In the past 15 year’s there has been a definite shift in ethnic representation within television and film. Although some would disagree (*Cough Oscargate), when it comes to an increase in diversity, the film industry is moving in the right direction.
We have television shows such as ‘The Mindy Project’ which features a Indian OB/GYN making it, although mostly not making it, in New York City. Also, there are shows such as Black-ish that features an African American family and their daily up’s and down’s, where the father tries to actually establish MORE of an identity, proving that the stereotypes really aren’t as accurate as it was once believed.
Here are just a handful of South Asians who are making their presence known in stardom, and using their platforms to bring down barriers:
1. Mindy Kaling
…AKA My spirit animal AKA Can we be sisters, please?
There are SO many reasons why this lady is number one on my list. But the main reason is because she is authentic.
Mindy went to Dartmouth to study playwriting, because she knew that comedy is where she wanted to be.
This girl hustled!
She worked her ass off at NBC, and got picked to be a staff writer for ‘The Office’, and later on starring as Kelly. After the show ended, Mindy got an opportunity to start ‘The Mindy Project’.
In her show she doesn’t have a fake accent, she isn’t married, she doesn’t live at home and nor is her only purpose on the show to fall in love.
Mindy lives on her own, she works in a practice that she started, she goes on multiple dates, and has a healthy sex life. She is independent, driven and frank. Mindy takes risks, and although the outcome isn’t always favourable….at least she tried!
Today, she uses her platform to start conversations and showcasing that it is okay to have highs and lows, and that you do not have to be perfect. More specifically, Mindy challenges the stereotypes of what an Indian woman should be like!
2. Aziz Ansari
…AKA The perfect MC.
Aziz is on my list for not highlighting his ethnic background and making it his “thing”.
You might know him from ‘Parks and Recreation’, or most recently from his own show ‘Master of none’ found on Netflix. Aziz uses his comedy to show pitfalls in an average 20 something’s life. However, he doesn’t specifically talk about 20-something’s-who-are-indian. Instead, he makes casual nods at his ethnicity, and leaves the stereotypes at the door.
3. Lilly Singh
…..AKA ||Superwoman|| AKA BAWSE
YouTube star, Girl Love Advocate, Entrepreneur, Artist, Actress, Writer… the list goes on!
Lilly deserves a spot because she is a BAWSE (Term coined by her).
She started off recording videos in her Scarbourough, Canada home and posting them to YouTube, as her video’s got traction so did her ||Superwoman|| brand. Lilly uses her platform to show that we are all powerful, and what we can achieve is boundless.
Most recently Lilly used her MeToWe platform to launch #GirlLove, an online campaign against girl-on-girl hate. She is always trying to self improve, and what a great model she has become.
4. Priyanka Chopra
….AKA The ambassador of how beautiful Indian women are.
Okay, So I left Priyanka to the very last, not because of her level of stardom but because she is a living example of what this blogpost is all about.
Priyanka is most famously known for her work in Bollywood movies (most recently, Bajirao Mastani), although she went to school in New York City, her roots are from Mumbai, India. Lately, Priyanka has become the talk of Hollywood with the success of the show ‘Quantico’, which is based on an FBI agent trainee who was framed for an attack and must find out who in the FBI is the true perpetrator.
The reason why Quantico is so important is because she plays the character Alex Parrish, an American Citizen who wants to serve her country. Priyanka is breaking barriers every Sunday with each episode, just by being there. She falls in love, and has a dynamic powerful presence without coming off as a bitch or a tyrant. The show airs worldwide, and is quite popular in Canada and India.
By entering Hollywood it shows that as an actress and an Indian one at that, she is evolving. Although she might still have that Bombay flare and Indian twang in her voice, Priyanka will not let that stop her, nor typecast her. She demands to be respected and to be treated like every other actress despite colour, ethnicity, or any other factor.
These are just 4 of my personal favourite celebrities that are an accurate representation of what Indians are really like today.
Breaking the stereotype that every Indian living in North America is probably from India, have an accent so thick you have to ask them to repeat everything twice and probably have to get married by 24 or they are disowned by their family…..is going to be a tough job.
But, these 4 individuals keep on changing the conversation just by being who they are.
Thank you reading.
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