#NoMoreBoxes: The Story of Four [South Asian] American Actresses on the Path to Stardom

Look at us. Four American women.

Our parents are from Punjab, Gujarat, and Kerala, but we grew up on the East Coast, in the Midwest, and in the South. We had thick southern accents, spoke fluent Gujarati or didn’t know a single word of our parents’ language.

We’re single and we’re married.

We’ve gone from cleaning toilets and having survival jobs to starting businesses, foundations and producing award-winning films.

We’ve been sexually harassed, offered roles for sex, and told it’s an easier “in” than auditioning.

We’ve been through depression and anxiety.

We’ve been offered contracts from networks and have had contracts taken away without notice. We’ve been on hold for huge roles, but then they decided to “go another way.”  

We’ve had our hearts broken, been on the red carpet, felt invisible, and had our dreams come true.  

This is us. Four American actresses

We are specific and unique but the majority of our casting notices reads: “Muslim. Wears a hijab.” Or: “Conservative, pretty, smart, comes from a good background. Parents want to arrange her marriage.”

But how many shades of personality are there for our white counterparts?

The next level up is “ethnically ambiguous,” which means we audition with anyone who isn’t Caucasian. Instead of adding “ethnically ambiguous” on a character description and considering oneself progressive, let’s write specifically rich female characters who happen to be ethnic along with their other plentiful individual traits. Our ethnicity should be used as an asset and not as a crutch. We are capable of more than filling the diversity quota. We are leading ladies.

We’re American. First generation. We don’t need to comment on our culture at every turn because we don’t do that in real life.

We don’t all fit in one box.

“It takes courage to question your own perceptions. Especially when they are validated every day by our culture.” —The Queen’s Code

We are forging a new way of living that’s different from our parents, with no prior connections. We studied medicine, engineering, economics, and architecture.

We deviated from a set path to follow our hearts and fulfill our creative minds.

We stepped out of the mold and into living the life of a creative.

We would rather keep going and fail than be “comfortable” and wonder “what if…”

We’ve taken a leap into the unknown and are daring Hollywood to do the same.

It’s time.

Actresses: @surinajindal, @gayatribahl, @melaniechandra, @reemasampat
Photography: @saunakspace
Hair & Makeup: @stylebysusmita

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›