When it comes to representation in the media, the goal is for everyone to be able to see themselves in a positive light and have someone to relate to. Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect, Godmothered) is that manifestation for many in the Indian community. I got the opportunity to sit down with Utkarsh Ambudkar for an interview with CinemaBlend, and he spoke about representation, as well as feeling led to be an actor.

Being a minority myself, I was used to growing up and seeing Black characters on TV be the best friend or other supporting characters, unless the show was specifically about a Black family. For many years I wondered if that’s all Black actors were being offered. This made me curious about the first time Utkarsh Ambudkar saw someone who looked like him on TV or film. Here’s what he said:

Well the first time I was tricked, because I thought it was in the movie Short Circuit, which was a white actor named Fisher Stevens in brownface, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, this is highly offensive.’ Then the next time was Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom which also set me back a long ways, then there was Apu in The Simpsons who was voiced by my friend now Hank Azariah so that’s a white dude doing a bad Indian accent. So the first time was Ajay Naidu in the movie Office Space. And I credit him with being my OG as it were. He showed me it was possible.

Wow. It’s a little hard to hear, but important to address. And thankfully, Utkarsh Ambudkar was not deterred from gracing our screens with his brilliance and energy (along with his rapping and DJ skills!). Acting didn’t give him a choice. He was determined to pursue this career. In his own words,

This is just the only thing I’ve ever been really good at. So I didn’t really have a choice. If there were no Indians or a million Indians, I still would’ve done it. It’s not like I’m going to do anything else. So the way I look at it is like, this is what I love, it seems to have chosen me as well, you can call that what it is, from, if you believe in that kind of thing. And so I’m just gonna go on this path and put one foot in front of the other and have a foolish amount of confidence, none of it based in any kind of actual merit. And slowly but surely we’ve kind of built a nice community of South Asians, and all of us, we don’t compete anymore. We’re able to all - mostly all of us who started and stuck with it - work and support each other and love each other and watch each other grow as men and women and see our families grow and it’s really - we’ve been fortunate as a community to keep moving together.

That’s where the magic is. We all need community, no matter what the foundation of it may be. If your community is movie lovers, then keep it here at CinemaBlend because you’re in good company. You can see Utkarsh Ambudkar in Godmothered currently streaming on Disney+ and in the upcoming film Free Guy.

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