• Monday, May 23, 2022

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Parminder Nagra says TV show turned her down for being of Indian descent

Parminder Nagra attends Lupus LA Orange Ball 2019 at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel. (Photo by JB Lacroix/Getty Images)

By: Sattwik Biswal

BRITISH-ASIAN actress Parminder Nagra will be seen soon in her latest role in Sky space drama Intergalactic from Friday (30).

But looking back, Nagra says how she was once turned down for a role on a well-known US TV show because they “already had an Indian person”.

She had also heard producers of an unnamed production say “too many brown people” would not sell.

Nagra got recognition in the 2002 UK film Bend It Like Beckham before appearing in the US medical drama series ER.

But she admits that things have improved and there is now lot more on-screen diversity to be seen.

“We’re having the conversations happening more and more and things have moved on,” she told the Celebrity Catch Up podcast.

“My fear is that – which I think was happening a few years ago – it became about, ‘Oh well let’s get this box ticked’,” added Nagra, who lives in Los Angeles.

“I remember asking to go for a job because an actress basically left – it was a well-known TV show here. I remember phoning my agent and I went, ‘Do you think maybe you could just suggest me? The character is very non-specific in terms of family and between 35 and 40 (years of age).

“And the word that came back was that they’ve already got an Indian person on the cast.

“I went, ‘Yeah but I’m completely different to that person’. Is that ever gonna happen when you say that, ‘No we’ve already got a white person on the show’?

“I don’t think that conversation is happening – so it’s just very hard.”

There was an incident in 2018 during the promotion of Bend it Like Beckham, where a magazine refused to put her on its cover alongside co-star Keira Knightly because of the colour of her skin.

There have been many “odd” moments like the one above in her career, but Nagra has remained optimistic, hoping for a change to occur.

“I’ve been in rooms where people have gone, ‘Oh that’s not going to sell because there’s just too many brown people in it’, and you go, ‘Oh. OK’,” she told in the podcast.

“Do you keep pounding? There’s moments where you get tired and then there’s people that do keep doing that and then they break another glass ceiling.

“You’ve got Riz Ahmed and Priyanka Chopra – they’ve got deals with networks and stuff like that, and so things have moved on.

“But, yeah, that was a story for the books and there was lots of little stories like that.”

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