Sunkrish Bala

“I feel like I’m cheating at life – Sunkrish Bala

Sunkrish Bala realized at a very tender age that he was going to indulge in the glitz and glam that the acting world provided. Straight out of college, UCLA, he landed an integral part on ABC’s Notes from the Underbelly, and guest starred on a number of Emmy Winning shows. Staying close to his roots, the Bombay born Indian-American actor has also starred alongside veteran actor Anupam Kher American Blend. Google him and the actor is gushed and lushed over by the ladies for his good looks, charm and incredible quick wit. And of course, in true Bala-fashion, the actor was more than willing to talk acting, fans and even Bollywood with Roshni Magazine. Check it out!

How did acting happen? Was it a childhood dream?
Well I had always sort of done community theater and all that as a kid, but it definitely wasn’t a viable career option. Growing up how and where I did, it just wasn’t realistic. It wasn’t until I started applying to colleges and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life that I even began to think about acting as a possible career. And even as a theater major in college, I was more into the academia of it. It just never really hit me that people were actually going to pay me to do what I loved.

How did “Notes from the Underbelly” happen? Did you expect it to be so successful and for your character to receive such accolades?
I booked the pilot for Notes during my senior year at UCLA. We happened to shoot it during spring break. The day before I graduated, we found out the show had been picked up by ABC—where it ran for two years. That was probably the luckiest sequence of events—in terms of timing—that has ever happened to me. Couldn’t have asked for more.

You’ve appeared on a number of popular shows: CSI: NY, Will and Grace, My Name is Earl, Grey’s Anatomy just to name a few. What has the experience been like?
Horrible, awful experiences. No, it’s been phenomenal! Really, really fun and educational and everything I expected it to be.

In more recent times, especially post Slumdog Millionaire, Indian’s seem to be receiving more recognition. Do you feel you aren’t being type casted anymore?
I get asked this question a lot. Actually, I’ve found that the industry has been steadily moving away from “typecasting,” so to speak, for years now. Hollywood is certainly a much more inclusive place than the town I first walked into four years ago. I think, actually, that that’s part of the reason that something like Slumdog was so successful. It couldn’t have happened—as big as it happened— a few years ago.

Did you get a chance to watch Slumdog? What did you think of it?
I adored it, of course. It deserved every one of those accolades.

Is Bollywood something you would be interested in?
I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest. I’ve been keeping very busy on this side of the world. Also, I’m a terrible dancer.

What was the experience of working in “American Blend?”
I think I had finished my sophomore year of college when we filmed that. I was nineteen or twenty and definitely had never been on a professional set before. I was sort of thrust into it headfirst. I had a blast, obviously, but I was very undisciplined. I was having too much fun. It was playtime.

And Anupam Kher?
Couldn’t ask for a sweeter, funnier more patient man than Anupamji. Having a living legend playing my father was definitely surreal. But he was so approachable and charming and funny. I just saw him again the last time I went back to India. He’s fantastic.

Television or film: which do you prefer and why?
I’ve definitely done a lot more television than film, but they’re both very rewarding. And, honestly, the work and preparation to do either is very similar. Though there’s a lot more time to get it right when you’re making a movie, and TV is very quick—go-go-go!

Are you still active with A’Shore – the Indian-American theater company you co-founded? What are they currently up to?
I think A’shore is, sadly, defunct. Or at least on hiatus. I miss those guys. Though I believe a lot of its members are still active in Naatak, which is an incredible South Asian theater company in the Bay Area.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment thus far?
I’m honestly just happy and proud to be included in the industry and profession that I’m in.

What do you do afterhours?
My schedule is pretty erratic. “After” hours really has no meaning. I’m writing a couple of projects on the side, and I’m in the process of adopting a puppy.

What is your inspiration?
I absolutely love doing what I do. I honestly feel like I’m getting away with something.  I feel like I’m cheating at life.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I hope I’m as excited doing this as I am now. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for more. I just want to keep it up.

How has life changed for you after becoming an actor? Do fans recognize you on the street?
Very, very rarely. And it’s usually of the “I know you from something” variety. Does that count? I don’t think that counts. So, life hasn’t changed much.

What is next on the agenda for you?
I have a couple movies coming out over the next year. One is a teen slasher flick called “Albino Farm.” The other is a drama I’m very proud of called “Another Harvest Moon” opposite legendary actors like Ernest Borgnine, Anne Meara, and Doris Roberts. I’ll also be on a new series on NBC next season called “Day One.”

Any message for your fans?
Thanks for all the kind words and support! It means a lot!

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