Without a doubt one of the best British talents to step out into the spotlight in the modern day, Amrit Maghera is an actress who isn’t afraid to branch out into a number of exciting genres, never putting the brakes on making a success of herself and taking a risk in a wealth of different areas.
We got the opportunity to put some questions to Amrit all about her life in the entertainment industry so far, her future projects and more…
Earlier this year we saw Neeta killed off in Hollyoaks; how did you find the response from fans following the shock twist?
The response was so overwhelming with so much support and love for the Neeta/Hunter storyline. I couldn’t believe the amount of lovely messages and comments we were sent and are still being sent even now. It meant so much to me, that even though my character had done something that society deems as ‘wrong’, people still rooted for her and understood that she was just a woman in love and it was a very unfortunate situation.
Can you tell us a little bit about your overall experience working on that show?
I honestly loved every part of it, from the people I was working with to the storylines I was given. I feel like it was a real rollercoaster and I could have never predicted what Neeta was going to go through from beginning to end. She came in as Mac’s trophy, ditzy girlfriend and ended up in this huge love square between Mac, Sally and Hunter and in doing so, had to deal with an abusive, controlling boyfriend who eventually dropped her to her death. It’s been so exciting to play and I’ve loved living in Liverpool too and have made some really good friends there.
You play Joanna Mendes in Angry Indian Goddesses; what can you tell us about this film?
It’s essentially about what it is to be a woman in today’s world and the things we have to face, good and bad. It’s set in Goa and the seven main characters are all Indian women from different walks of life, however although it’s about Indian women in India, I think it’s definitely a universal story. It was completely different to Hollyoaks in the sense that it was shot chronologically and the seven of us actresses were a big part of the creative process. At the beginning of the shoot we were all taken to a retreat in Goa and did loads of meditation and trust exercises to bond us as a group and only then, they got the cameras involved and began to shoot us. We were all very much living our characters through the whole one and a half months. It’s an experience that I will always treasure and it changed me in so many different ways. Each one of us poured our stories and hearts into it… Hopefully that comes through to the audience when they watch it.
How have you found the overall response to the movie so far?
It was shown first at Toronto International Film Festival where we got a standing ovation and a lot of tears and also hugs from audience members who we’d never met before. It was so amazing and we were all called up onto the stage and were very emotional too during the Q&A. in Rome it was the same and we ended up winning awards at both festivals. We had to attend a lot of the screenings in Europe during our promotional tour and it was incredible watching the effect that our film seemed to have on people. I remember in one Q&A in Germany, one woman said that she would show it to her young daughter when the time came to explain “womanhood”. We all felt so moved at that. I feel very lucky to have been involved in such a hard hitting story with these amazing actresses and of course our passionate and wonderful director, producer and crew.
What projects do you have in the works that you can share some details about?
I have done something very recently, but unfortunately I can’t talk about it yet. I can say that it’s extremely different to Neeta, though.
Do you have any tips for those who may be working to break out in the entertainment industry?
Believe, be kind, work hard, be patient, have fun, enjoy the journey; I’m telling myself, too!
As a woman – and a woman of colour – how would you say opportunities are for you in the entertainment industry?
I feel grateful and lucky at the opportunities that have come my way and I guess being mixed race has enabled me to work in England as well as India. But it is funny that when I worked in Bombay, I was seen as being the pale-skinned, half-English girl from London which was appealing to them and here, it seems to be my Indian side that people find interesting. To be honest like many others, I would like to just get opportunities based on whether people think I have the skill to do the job.
How could the industry work to change and include more women and minorities in the future?
I do think that the industry is already working to do this, but of course, more needs to be done, more stories about women and minorities need to be told. Sometimes I think it’s many people’s mentalities that need to change, which is a hard task. For example, our film about seven Indian women was dismissed by many before its release, because there were no men playing lead roles. It was so hard to get funding and investors because of this reason. There was also an assumption that it was a girly chick flick with no substance. I think the industry needs to make an effort to support and watch work that is trying to do something different, i.e. that focuses on telling stories about minorities. And people need to be seen as equals, not, “oh you’re a woman so therefore we’ll pay you less and you’re not as important as the male lead.” This has happened to me when I did a Bollywood and also a Punjabi film. I’m talking from the point of view of being an actress, but I understand it happens in all areas of the industry and life in general.
Are there any big franchises out there in film or TV you’d love to be a part of moving forward? Or any actors/directors you’d like to work with?
Haha! I have a big list, but I also don’t want to set my goals in stone and to be open to what happens and to just carry on working hard, doing work that I’m passionate about. To name a few directors that are some of my favourites though, they would be Ken Loach, Christopher Nolan, Woody Allen and Shane Meadows.
Finally, what’s next for you in the coming weeks and months?
I’ve just done something which will be on TV next year and now, I’m having a tiny bit of R&R time in the run-up to Christmas, as I’ve realised that my chill time is also important. I’m looking forward to seeing what the New Year brings, though.
Keep up-to-date with Amrit on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amrit.maghera/