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Meet Perveen Singh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Perveen Singh.

Perveen, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I always loved film and TV growing up but didn’t consider it a career path. Outside of Bollywood movies, I rarely saw anyone who looked like me onscreen, so it never really felt like a viable option.

I grew up an expat (due to my dad’s job) and bounced back and forth between Kuala Lumpur and Texas. This, coupled with being an only child, meant I had to keep myself entertained and be adaptable. In hindsight, those long flights buried in books and having to be the new kid at school really influenced my love for storytelling and prepared me for the face-paced energy of being on set.

I attended high school in Houston and when the time came to start thinking about college, I didn’t have a concrete plan. I’d excelled in English and writing and at first considered law before pivoting to journalism. I knew my parents would eventually relocate so I looked outside Texas to both coasts. I applied to two schools (teenage naiveté) and happened to receive my acceptance letter to USC first.

I fell in love with LA quickly and aside from a stint in Paris, decided to call California home. After graduation, I found myself with a double degree in PR and French with no plan to pursue a career in either. I cobbled together some freelance writing and retail hours to support myself while I figured it out. It was around this time I decided to take some acting classes for fun. I figured it’d be therapeutic and a good way of finding community. What started out as a hobby swiftly became a very real way of expressing myself – and the highlight of my week. Fortunately for me, I landed a break early on which landed me my first agent and the rest, as they say, is history.

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?
Some days it feels like I’m driving on the Autobahn with zero traffic in a cherry red convertible. Other days it feels like being stuck on a winding, treacherous road with a flat and no cell service. Whatever day it is, I allow myself to acknowledge how I’m feeling (and either celebrate or wallow in it) before letting it go and moving on. This is a career path that comes with a ton of rejection, so it’s important not to take any of it personally (easier said than done for this sensitive Pisces).

Choosing to chase your dreams requires tremendous focus. After 2020 forced us all to slow down, I took stock of all the factors and relationships in my life. I’ve nurtured the ones that are healthy and mutually supportive and stepped back from the ones that aren’t sustainable.  I also took advantage of the down time to get back into class to keep myself limber and open to learning.

I should also note that I’m tremendously fortunate to have the full support of my parents, which I know is not always the case with immigrants and South Asian creatives. That coupled with the strong support system I have here has been instrumental in keeping me going (and when all else fails, wine and a long hike helps).

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Writing has always been something I’ve been told I’m good at but for some reason, have shied away from. I’ve put it off with the excuse of “getting around to it later.” While the efforts to diversify Hollywood seem to finally be turning a corner, I realized the best way to get the roles I’ve been coveting was to write them myself.

At the end of 2019, I wrote, directed and starred in a short film, learning a lot in the process. It was challenging but a ton of fun and it sparked something in me. Shortly after, I began writing a feature and during quarantine last year wrote and directed an 8-part rom com series for IGTV called “Phoning It In.” I recruited some talented friends and shot the entire series remotely on an iPhone. It was a good excuse to teach myself how to use Premiere Pro and learn how to edit. The truth is, a lot of the women in Hollywood whose careers I’d love to emulate – Mindy Kaling, Issa Rae, Emerald Fennell – are all architects of their own success. They’re making their own opportunities. Things have since picked back up in the industry – which is really exciting – but I’m still carving out time to write so watch this space!

What are your plans for the future?
I’m feeling optimistic about the light at the end of the tunnel with spring – and the vaccine – in the air. I’m looking forward to seeing my parents (and enjoying my mum’s cooking), sweaty dance floors, hushed movie theatres, big, bustling sets, and long family-style dinners with friends in entirely too-packed, too-loud restaurants.

That being said, I’ll continue working to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m working on creating more of my own content for bigger screens (a pilot and two features) and am also working on a collection of short stories (if I say it here, I’ll be forced to put pen to paper, right?). I’m my biggest critic so half the struggle is just trusting the work and my own voice – but I truly believe the best is yet to come.

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Image Credits

Leah Huebner Photography/Maggie Bo for AYR/Michael J Spear

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