When one thinks of diversity in Hollywood, they usually think of African-Americans, Asians, even homosexual actors or characters. Indian-Americans are a little overlooked.
Yet, several Indian-American actors and actresses are currently doing big things on their respective television shows and movies. Here are five Indian-American thespians that are sure to hold your interest.
Mindy Kaling, better known as Kelly Kapoor on NBC’s The Office, was born Vera Mindy Chokalingam. Her parents are Tamil Hindus from India, but Kaling grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
She was hired to write for the American version of The Office in 2004, in addition to her role as Kelly. She has also served as a co-executive producer for the show.
Kal Penn is a stage name – short for Kalpen Suresh Modi. Penn’s parents both immigrated to the United States from India, although Penn grew up in New Jersey.
Penn is probably most well known as Kumar Patel in the Harold and Kumar movies. He also starred in the drama The Namesake and played Doctor Lawrence Kutner on TV’s House. However, Penn was recruited by the Obama White House and left the show to serve as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Danny Pudi is of mixed heritage – his father is Indian and his mother is Polish – and grew up in Chicago. He recently gained notoriety for his portrayal of Abed on NBC’s community college sitcom Community. His acting resume is rather short, but he’s appeared in several movies and on several television programs, including the film Road Trip: Beer Pong and the show Greek.
Aziz Ansari hails from South Carolina (as does the character he portrays on Parks and Recreation), but his parents are immigrants from India.
Starting out as a stand-up comic, Ansari and collaborators Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer starred in the sketch comedy show Human Giant on MTV. Ansari currently plays womanizing goofball Tom Haverford on NBC’s Parks and Recreation.
Kunal Nayyar is most well known for playing the character Rajesh Koothrappali on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory. A nerdy astrophysicist with several quirks (including “selective mutism,” meaning that he is unable to speak around women), Koothrappali hails from India, where his parents still live. As for Nayyar himself, the most specific information on his background that I could find said only that he is “of Indian origin.”