Anjana Vasan: Heralding a new diaspora trend on our screens

Anjana Vasan: Heralding a new diaspora trend on our screens
Courtesy: BAFTA TV Awards 2022

There has been an impressive line-up of global Indian female actors making a mark with path-breaking characters and Anjana Vasan is leading that crop with her mould-busting roles in ‘Killing Eve’ and ‘We Are Lady Parts’. Her nomination in the category of “Female Performance in a Comedy Programme” in this weekend’s BAFTA Television Awards, to be unveiled on May 8, is a good time to delve deeper into some of these rising diaspora stars who are no longer being pigeon-holed into typical desi storylines.

Anjana Vasan

Vasan is an actor and singer-songwriter based in London, who plays the role of lead guitarist Amina Hussain in the popular Channel 4 comedy 'We Are Lady Parts' – centred around an all-female punk rock band.

"What is happening?!?!?! Never in my wildest dreams... Thank you @bafta. Also, six whole nominations for our show?! Wild." – This was her reaction to the BAFTA nomination.

Born in Chennai, southern India, Vasan grew up in Singapore, where she graduated from the National University of Singapore. The 35-year-old has been a familiar face in London's theatre scene for several years now.

The 2019 staging of ‘A Doll's House’ earned her an Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination. Earlier, she was also nominated for Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme for her role in the Netflix series 'Sex Education'.

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Simone Ashley

Ashley is another actor from BBC’s 'Sex Education' ensemble who rose to worldwide fame as the lead in the second season of Netflix's popular series 'Bridgerton'. Based on author Julia Quinn's second novel in the romance series, 'The Viscount Who Loved Me', the latest season of ‘Bridgerton’ saw Ashley’s Kate Sharma go head-to-head with Jonathan Bailey’s Anthony Bridgerton.

With the duo's sizzling on-screen chemistry and Ashley's assured performance, she has firmly pegged herself as another Indian-origin British actor to watch.

She channelled her inner Kate Sharma energy in her recent Met Gala Moschino look from the Italian house's creative director Jeremy Scott, making a mark on the red carpet at the world-famous New York fashion charity event.

Born to Tamil parents, Simone Ashwini Pillai is from Camberley, Surrey. The 27-year-old spent her teenage years in California before going on to train as an actor at Arts Educational School in west London.

Courtesy: Netflix

Charithra Chandran

Complementing Ashley in the role of her younger sister Edwina Sharma in 'Bridgerton' Season 2 is 25-year-old Charithra Chandran. The London-based actor is declared “Diamond” of the season by the formidable Queen Charlotte in the Netflix series, setting many hearts aflutter.

The University of Oxford alumnus has trained with the National Youth Theatre and started performing from a young age, including in West End musicals. Her Indian roots trace back to Tamil Nadu and she was born in Scotland.

Charithra Chandran is definitely another promising talent who we will be seeing more of.

Meryl Fernandes

Born in east London to Goan-origin parents, Meryl Fernandes dons many hats at once: presenter, stage and screen actor, entrepreneur and mother. Her big career break came as Afia in 'Eastenders'.

The popular presenter of CBBC's award-winning show 'The Dengineers', she is also known for presenting her own Channel 4 short series ‘Crazy, Sexy, Cool’, which revolves around celebrities, their wardrobes and life.

Her career took off when she was awarded the Millennium Performing Arts School scholarship. It wasn't long before Fernandes landed her first West End show, ‘The Far Pavilions’, at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre. The 39-year-old’s television credits include BBC One's 'Doctor Who', among others.

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Mandip Gill

While on the subject of ‘Dr Who’, Mandip Gill pops immediately to mind. The 34-year-old has been playing PC Yasmin Khan in the last few series of the hit BBC sci-fi show.

Her most widely known role was as a series regular in the soap ‘Hollyoaks’ and she has also appeared in other BBC shows such as 'Doctors' and the ITV series 'The Good Karma Hospital'.

Born in Leeds, Gill grew up in a British Sikh family who ran a newsagents. She graduated in acting from the University of Central Lancashire and also has a string of theatre productions under her belt.

This is just a snapshot of a welcome trend of female trailblazers on our screens, which we hope will continue to multiply in the sheer variety of roles.

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