Avantika Vandanapu: Without the work, activism of colored artists, we would have no opportunities

Indian-origin American actor, Avantika Vandanapu lauds the works that many actors of colour have done in the West, which she says has opened up opportunities for people like her.

“I’m so happy and excited to see the turn the industry has taken in regards to South Asian portrayal. With movies like Sound of Metal (2019) and shows such as Never Have I Ever, we’re seeing an improvement in the way South Asian stories are being told,” she shares.

But there’s a long way to go, feels the 16-year-old, who has been a part of television series Diary Of A Future President (2020) and animated children’s television series Mira, Royal Detective (2020).

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“We’re still at a point in time where we can count the number of times South Asians have been positively showcased in Hollywood on our hands. Hopefully, these projects will pave the way for many more to come,” she expresses.

That being said, Indian characters are still seen in stereotypical portrayals. Asked if things have changed now as opposed to before, Vandanapu says, “Absolutely, without the work and activism of so many BIPOC (Black and Indigenous people of colour) and coloured artistes, we’d have no opportunities in this industry. All of that hard work is beginning to come to fruition, and though we still have a long way to go, it’s equally as important to acknowledge the doors that have opened for us now.”

The California-native, who stars in recent film Spin, is happy with the way her career has shaped up so far.

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“My acting career began with dance background. I had always found myself drawn to the expressive arts and drama, but when I travelled to Mumbai to compete in Dance India Dance, my interest in cinema solidified. After experiencing the hub of Bollywood, I fell in love with the film industry. Once I came back to the United States, I seriously pursued an acting career. I trained in various techniques, auditioned, and prepared all of my necessary materials,” she recounts her journey.

And not just the West, Vandanapu feels that even content in Bollywood films have evolved, especially with the rise in digital content and OTT platforms.

“Bollywood’s definition of cinema has taken a turn and for the better. Bollywood films and content have begun to highlight marginalised communities and placed women in more challenging, humanised roles. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but I definitely think the industry is on the right track,” she ends.

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