Today we’d like to introduce you to Rituja Kashid.
Rituja, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started acting when I was in the 7th grade. Growing up in a small town in Alberta, Canada, I immersed myself in a ton of extracurricular activities. I danced, played sports, and was in numerous school organizations and leadership groups. However, I have always been drawn to the arts. I started dancing when I was six but for as long as I can remember, I have loved performing for people and entertaining them. So, in the 7th grade when I was fresh into junior high and looking for more things to explore and do in my small town, I auditioned for my school’s spring musical just because all my friends were doing it. I was surprised that I actually made it in, never having acted before, and that’s when I got bit by the acting bug!
I had such a great time being a part of the musical that year that I continued being involved in theatre all throughout junior high. Then, in high school, my family moved to Houston. There, I realized how different the theatre scene is between different places. I continued being involved in theatre in high school but honed in more on plays as opposed to musicals. My passion for acting grew as I realized how great of an impact theatre has on people and how it teaches you about individuals and society. Being in a family where my parents and all my relatives are in the STEM field, though, it was a little hard to convince them that acting is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
However, once I was able to prove to them that acting is something that I am truly passionate about, my parents enrolled me for classes at a local acting school/agency. I was introduced to acting on camera there and immediately knew that that is the path I wanted to take as an actor since there is just much more intimacy and connection and rawness in acting on camera than in a live theatre. Then, for college, I went back to the big provincial university in my hometown in Canada because I got really homesick while in Houston and just could not see myself continuing my schooling in Texas. After just one semester at my college in Canada, though, I knew that if I truly wanted to commit to acting, I would have to move back to the States. I knew that the best place for me to be to pursue what I wanted to do would be California. So, after doing a lot of research on finding the college best fit for me, I decided to apply to Loyola Marymount University. That was the only college I applied as a transfer to. I told myself that if it was meant to be and I was meant to be an actor, I would get in. If not, I should trust the universe and stay in Canada. I did end up getting in for the spring semester of my freshman year, so I packed my bags after only one semester in Canada and moved to LA! I am currently a sophomore Theatre major at LMU and I could not be happier of my decision to transfer.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It most definitely has not been a smooth road for me. Being an actor is hard as it is but being an actor of Indian descent, it is tough to come across people who are willing to cast color-blind. However, I haven’t let this deter me because there have been a lot of amazing things that have come out of me being an actress of color. My advice for other young women interested in pursuing acting is to not focus on the “no”s. It is so easy to feel discouraged and unworthy in this industry but focuses on all the great things that are happening for you. Acknowledge your accomplishments, appreciate your drive, and applaud your resilience.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
My niche as an actor is contemporary dramatic work. I love the digging down of raw, natural emotion and I think what sets me apart from other actors is my ability to transition back and forth from film and theatre and use what I have learned from one in another. Some notable roles I have recently played are Cary Sheih in 110 Stories by Sarah Tuft and Regina in Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen at LMU. For my work as Cary Sheih, I was featured in a local Houston magazine and nominated for a district-wide award. Playing Sheih and being a part of 110 Stories holds such a special place in my heart not only because it was the first lead role I had ever played and the recognition it brought me, but also because I got to study and research a real-life person who was impacted by the 9/11 attacks first-hand.
Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
I think the freedom that my parents gave my brother and me to do what we are passionate about really encouraged me to continue acting. It is hard in the Indian community to accept that your child is straying away from the STEM field and pursuing something in a field where the outcome is so unpredictable, but my parents have always encouraged me to do what I enjoy doing. Even when I doubt myself, my mom never fails to remind me how capable I am of achieving anything I set my heart to and how strong I am for doing something a lot of people, especially in the Indian community, are scared to do.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @ritujakashid