South Asian women, especially of Indian origin, taking centre-stage in global titles like Bridgerton and One Day was long overdue, says Indian-American actor Avantika Vandanapu. She debuted in 2016 with the Telugu film, Mahesh Babu-starrer Brahmotsavam and was recently seen as Karen Shetty in the reboot of Mean Girls. (Also Read: Avantika Vandanapu recalls working with Mahesh Babu: Nothing short of a dream come true)

Avantika Vandanapu talks about working in Hollywood(Instagram)
Avantika Vandanapu talks about working in Hollywood(Instagram)

‘Indian women have been able to shine in Hollywood’

From Priyanka Chopra Jonas in Citadel to Simone Ashley in Bridgerton and Ambika Mod in One Day, the list of female actors with an Indian connect in Hollywood keeps getting longer. “It has been a long time coming considering we are a large population with so many incredibly, beautiful, and talented women. It was time that a community of 1.5 billion people was represented on the global (stage),” the actor told PTI in a new interview.

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Crediting the women who paved the way for actors like her to come up, Avantika said she and her contemporaries hope to do the same for ‘future generations of South Asian women’. She added, “It’s amazing that Indian women have kind of been able to shine their light in Hollywood… I feel honoured to be a part of this legacy.”

‘Samantha, Kajal, Chay were kind to me’

Avantika remembers her initial years in the film industry with fondness. She acted in the Telugu films Brahmotsavam, Premam and Manamantha, apart from Bhoomika in Tamil. She was barely 10 but remembers through a ‘blur of positive memories’ that the stars on these sets were kind to her.

Samantha (Ruth Prabhu), Kajal Aggarwal were lovely and kind. It meant a lot to me as a young girl who was struggling with the way she looked. Samantha is doing incredible things and so is Kajal and so to continue watching them succeed is inspiring. I remember Naga Chaitanya being so lovely to me on set,” she says.

‘Nepotism, colourism might not work in my favour’

Avantika will soon be seen in the Disney series A Crown of Wishes. She will also debut in Hindi with Nitya Mehra’s Prime Video show Big Girls Don’t Cry.

“There are 100 per cent plans to work in India. But it’s a different beast. There’s a lot to battle that goes beyond talent to work like nepotism, colourism. I don’t have that necessarily going in my favour. That being said, I have an Amazon Prime show coming out in a few weeks called Big Girls Don’t Cry by Nitya Mehra. I hope that will kind of be my debut in Bollywood even though it’s on OTT,” she says.

Growing up on films like Matilda and Aamir Khan-starrer 3 Idiots propelled her love for cinema, she says. “Matilda shaped my interest in wanting to be in films. 3 Idiots is a classic, it was such a big film for me. I am inspired by heartfelt movies that feel like a true representation of what it means to be human and what it means to live,” she added.

About Mean Girls

Paramount Pictures released Mean Girls in Indian theatres last month. Directed by Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr, the film is billed as a new twist on the 2004 modern classic by Tina Fey. The new film follows Cady Heron (Angourie Rice), who joins her new high school’s elite group The Plastics, run by Regina George (Renee Rapp) and her minions Gretchen (Bebe Wood) and Karen (Avantika).

When Cady falls for Regina’s ex-boyfriend Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney), she is at loggerheads with Regina. As Cady sets out to take down Regina with the help of her outcast friends Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), she must learn how to stay true to herself while navigating high school.

Avantika landed the role of the gullible Karen, played by Amanda Seyfried in the original movie, through a standard audition process. “It was wonderful to kind of get her blessing and know that she was supportive and encouraging of my participation in the film. She had a lot of faith in me, especially when reprising an iconic character like this. There is this sense of hesitation and fear that comes with living up to the legacy before you and her being supportive of me meant a lot,” she says.

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