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Check Out Aaron Ratnayeke’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron Ratnayeke.

Hi Aaron, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
For as long as I can remember, the one thing that has stayed true and consistent is my desire to create. I grew up with an affinity to art and design, it did not matter the form or medium I had to try it and excel at it. Whether it be acting, dancing, singing, drawing, painting, modeling, photography, fashion design, or anything to do with creative expression, it was my thing. To this day do I bring all those skills in my stride. An artist can never be only one thing but have the ability to create and explore in any medium, and that is truly who I believe myself to be. My interest in entertainment first sparked as I entered high school having taken performing arts which only introduced me to the world of what it is to perform. Exploring that realm for five years is what led me to dig deeper and continue the further study of Acting for film in college. That time of uncertainty, development and enriched filming experiences gave me a taste of what to expect in the industry. Now being a college graduate and full-time actor, a title that was incomprehensible to me is now a reality and I could not feel more fortunate and grateful for each and every experience that has brought me here.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Every artist faces adversity in some form; I have had my fair share. That extremely tall hill that looked too high to climb has been surpassed unveiling many more mountains to conquer, but once you’ve climbed that long, tall, winding path, you have the tools to conquer with confidence. What I have come to realize is that there are always going to be struggles in this line of work, but it’s how you prepare and make those obstacles work for you. When embarking on this journey, I had to be somewhat ignorant to the lack of representation in the entertainment industry, especially with South Asians. Thankfully from when I started college to now, has there been major strides in uplifting voices of color. An abundance of opportunity from what was once thought of as a hindrance has now become a strength.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As many people would say in this town. I am an actor. A trained and represented actor with a lot to say. When I think of the current Rolodex of actors we see on screen, I see a gap in the market. A gap looking to be filled by someone like me. A young South Asian worthy of being a lead who isn’t afraid of his sexuality and holds a unique story. That is what I am proud of. My edge. I don’t see anyone on screen who I can remotely even relate to and it’s sad. I know my ability, my range, and my talent. I am most proud of my progress. Having just graduated with a ticking clock on whether if I get to stay in the country or not, I have been able to build a body of work that I am not only proud of but impressed by. I have a long way to go but it’s the small steps that count. An acting coach once told me that for us actors, every success is a step. Those successes consist of an audition, a callback, a phone call, a job. However small of a stride, it means the world to an artist as it’s all we have and all we can hope for. I don’t find meaning in bragging about the jobs I have done as it doesn’t speak to success in this game whatsoever. Each job is a job which doesn’t always lead to the bigger picture, and that’s ok. I know that I have been fortunate enough to work with such great talents from whom I can only absorb and learn from, and that is what is pushing me forward, the exposure and growth.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
I see major shifts being made that fortunes the underrepresented minorities who have been snuffed for so long. The realization that there are more stories to tell, more cultures to explore and share. In five to ten years, I see a landscape of media properly representing the world and the people in it. Hopefully, I get to be a part of that, ideally enforcing it. That does not just mean opportunities in front of the camera, but it is crucial that the industry make a pivotal shift of talent behind the camera as well.

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Image Credits
Nishanth Shiva, Devam Shah, Eric Magana, Kimiko Li, Ayanda Dube

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