The former American Idol and X Factor contestant speaks to the American Bazaar about her life as an Indian American in Hollywood.
Los Angeles based actress Priyadarshini G. Roy is a renaissance woman. She’s actor, singer, dancer, model, writer and triple pageant queen. Some of her titles include: “Miss India USA Miss Talented ’13”, and “Miss India Southern CA ’12”. Roy has also been a contestant on American Idol, X Factor, The Voice, as well as SaReGaMaPa USA.
Roy came to America in 1995 from New Delhi when she was just three years-old. She has since lived in Los Angeles and continues to pursue a career as a ‘leading lady’ in both Bollywood and Hollywood films.
Roy spoke with American Bazaar about her life as an Indian American in Hollywood.
Paint the picture of what drew you into this business?
One of my favorite past times are to read books/articles and watch films. The idea of storytelling has always fascinated me; forgetting one’s own story just to submerge yourself into another world and live vicariously through other characters is not only euphoric, but a form of meditation. It stimulates your mind to the countless stories surrounding and within each and every one of us. Every day a new page, every person a different metaphor or symbol, every year a new chapter. Story telling whether by mouth, dance, music, art, or text will always be the greatest form of education and entertainment throughout evolution. Films are eternal; the epitome of visual enjoyment which connects with people of all diverse backgrounds. I don’t want to build a brand, I want to create an IMMORTAL LEGACY. Being a well-rounded artist will keep the ingrained values of my parents alive for continuous inspiration long after I leave this world for another.
I understand you’ve been cast in a new TV show, tell me about ‘Made in America’?
Zee TV’s Made in America features Former Miss America, Nina Davaluri as the host. I am joined by five other female contestants on the very first reality show with second generation Indian Americans. During the competition, we all stayed together, competed in various challenges, showcased individual talent, and exercises with different coaches. The promos show the fierce competition that ensued, but more importantly the first time you see stereotypes regarding South Asians being broken.
How did you get involved with the show?
I saw an advertisement featuring Nina on ZeeTV and self-submitted without any expectations. Casting went through my LA Casting resume, and YouTube Channel links and asked me to audition in front of Network and Production. The audition was one of the longest interviews I had ever been in, but after a few days I got the call that I was cast!
Why is it important to have this show?
The content matter of diversity, Indian as well as South Asian representation in media is of supreme relevance in today’s political turmoil that we face worldwide. A huge divide in the mind frame of individuals has forced us to acknowledge the underlying issue of not only racism and nepotism, but ignorance among the population pertaining to the history of how our great nation was formed: IMMIGRANTS. As human beings, we must keep hope alive that no matter what politician represents us, we must unite as a general population to bridge this mental divide. That begins with education and empathy. I could name all of the Indian artists being represented in Hollywood with one hand and now that we recently had the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences acknowledging and inviting more of Indian talent from both Hindi and regional cinema is a start to showcase the blend of our heritage as well as our globalization being the largest film production in the world.
Despite growing up in a metropolitan city such as Los Angeles, I would get bullied in school for stereotypes (i.e. being nerdy, hairy, misidentified as Native American or Middle Eastern, terrorist, etc.) Still to this day getting asked, “Where are you from?”. Across the globe it was the same story: despite being humble and adjusting, during my travels to various cities in India (New Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata) I was asked, “Where are you from?” every time I spoke English. It didn’t matter that I spoke fluent Hindi and Bengali is their respective accurate accents. Like all other second-generation young adults, it was a constant mental turmoil to figure out, “Where am I from?” The answer that I came to over the years was: I shouldn’t have to choose. Our difference must be utilized as our strength; embracing both cultures; empowering others through entertainment and education instead of retaliation will help fill in any gaps.
This is the first time through this reality show, we get a look inside the mind frame and lives of Indian Americans. I hope that I was able to reach outside of the fourth wall of television and touch the hearts of people who can relate to the struggles of our parents and the triumphs we continue to make as a whole.
Is your family supportive?
My parents have not only been supportive, they have been my backbone, my strength and their struggles as immigrants creating a better life for my brother and my future is the inspiration for my persistence and patience with every aspect of my life.
My parents made sure to instill culture, language, and a worldly perspective in my Indian American upbringing. They not only made sure that I had a 4.0 G.P.A. but always encouraged my artistic passions by taking me to countless Indian Classical Music lessons, Bharatnatyam dance rehearsals, theatre practices as well as extracurricular coaching classes. Teaching us to be fluent in our mother tongues, Bengali and Hindi.
I am extremely blessed with a family that fought against society, relatives and the “log kya kahenge” thought process to ingrain never losing touch with our cultural roots while building a modern future. Hopefully, once I am capable I plan to give back to the community and Mother Earth.
Are you happy with what you do?
I’m on the path towards reaching my goals and will be completely content once I achieve them. I’m a firm believer of institutionalized and personal life education, but this just goes to show that despite whatever your brain tells you is logical for your career choice, always follow your heart. It’s not about the money, fame or glamour, instead about following your passions. Because you can learn to be smart, but talent is only God given. If you are lucky enough to be blessed with one or a hundred of them, harness and cultivate it, be the BEST version of yourself that you can be and watch success and destiny come to you instead of you chasing after them!
Be sure to catch Roy on ‘Made in America’ on Zee TV.