The star who will play the lead role in the new series Quantico this fall on ABC (Tuesdays 10 pm/ 9 Central)
“You know I went to school in America, I grew up there, and all the Indian characters that I saw on American shows are stereotypes and talk like Apu from The Simpsons, who I hate because growing up, everyone would ask me ‘How come you don’t talk like Apu?’”, she told DNA. “It used to piss me off. My basis with ABC was that I want to do an ethnically ambiguous part, and that’s the only way I would do it. I didn’t want to do a big fat Indian Punjabi family, that’s so expected from a Bollywood actress. I had clearly told them that if you want to treat me like an actress and not a ‘Bollywood’ jewel, where am supposed to dance and do those things, then I am fine. Which is why the parts they chose for me and scripts I read were for characters that are ethnically ambiguous.”
She’s not quite sure how television viewers in the United States will react to an Indian protagonist. She received some backlash when she was featured singing the theme song for Thursday Night Football on the NFL Network. Some viewers questioned why an “Arab terrorist” was singing a song for an American sport. Of course, she’s not Arab and she’s not a terrorist. She does play a suspected terrorist, however, on Quantico. In it she plays an FBI agent who is accused in a terrorist plot.
“I remember when I was growing up, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me in global pop culture. In today’s time, Rihanna is from the Islands, David Guetta is from Sweden, today’s pop culture reflects global diversity and I want to be part of that.”
You can read more about the accent she’ll use on Quantico and the unusual way she was cast for the role on DNA.