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Meet Deeksha Marla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deeksha Marla.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Deeksha. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in Oak Park, a small suburb about an hour away from Los Angeles. I am a first-generation Indian-American; both of my parents were immigrants; and that identity was really impactful for me growing up. I’ve always LOVED television. I don’t say that lightly. I watched many, many, many, shows growing up and would be able to recite every line of dialogue from certain episodes, seasons, or even full shows. I was deeply engrossed in fandoms for shows like Buffy and I knew every trivia fact for shows like Community. Eventually, my love for TV translated to my love for filmmaking. In high school, I primarily focused on making short films around different social issues I was passionate about.

While I came out with work I was proud of, it wasn’t till college where I found my actual love: comedy (more specifically, writing for tv comedies). I now am about to go into my final year at USC film school. I have combined my love for writing about social issues with my love for comedy and have translated it into creating episodic films with meaningful comedy. I use my knowledge being a first-generation woman of color to put my experiences and identities on screen in a comedic way and have learned a lot about myself in the process. I have also been able to be apart of great diversity fellowships and work at some great companies like HBO and WarnerMedia which taught me even more about the incredible TV industry. My personal favorite landmark, however, is finally completing every episode of 150 TV shows. I aspire to one day be like Phoebe Waller-Bridge or Issa Rae: a powerful TV creator and actress who is able to tell purposeful and meaningful stories through the lens of comedy.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Being a woman of color in film will always come with its challenges. Most are hard to describe to those who don’t relate but there is one overarching theme: imposter syndrome. No matter how far you come or how hard you work, it takes a lot of personal strength and power to be able to feel like you deserve your seat at the table. It’s hard to know if the stories which are so personal to your cultural and societal experiences are good enough. You never feel sure if people will understand them, or even worse if they will care. However, year by year, I am able to get one step further in realizing I deserve my spot and am good at what I do. I think having great role female models in the industry recently, who are making popular stories about their lives, contributed to this.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am passionate about creating comedy shows that break down different social issues. Most recently, I have been working on finishing a six episode comedy web series called WorkInProgress with my writing partner. The series centers around four women of color in college and their dating lives in modern day Los Angeles. It explores specific issues and adventures that BIPOC women face through the vessel of humor. After many years of collecting material and creating the project, we are nearly done and have a series that I feel many women of color will very personally relate to and empathize with. We wrote it as a love letter from women of color to women of color that we recognize their struggles, fears, and anxieties and we will push past them anyways with grace, humor, and a lot of love. Hopefully, through this project and the many others, we have in the works, I can solidify my comedic voice as a writer/actress and eventually write and show-run content that BIPOC women value.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I would consider my proudest moment being able to shoot a 6 episode, 45 minutes long in total, web series within three weekends under $2000 while being full-time students. Being scrappy is nothing new to the world of web series filmmaking, but we definitely put ourselves through the wringer for that project. We pushed and devoted a lot of ourselves into that project but, hopefully, that translates on screen.

Oh and on a separate note, I met Henry Winkler and he told me I was really funny. That’s definitely my proudest moment, forget the other thing I said.

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