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Rising Stars: Meet Rohini Chandra of DTLA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rohini Chandra

Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today?
I am an Actor, Singer-Songwriter, and Award-winning filmmaker originally from Freehold, New Jersey. My parents share humble beginnings in the narrow lanes of Kolkata, India, which makes me a first-generation Asian-Indian American. My dad came to America on a student visa and my mom came here after having an arranged marriage with my dad.

My parents knew me as a free spirit and encouraged nourishing my imagination with music, books, movies, & the adventures (of Tin Tin) in my green backyard in NJ. Freehold has parks, bike trails, and small farms and is where eating at the local diner and picking apples at the orchard were common pastimes. From Freehold, I went onto graduating from Rutgers University in Newark, NJ (where the late Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, taught law) with Highest Honors in Political Science. While studying human rights, the history of genocide, and international politics, I also developed a deep sense of gratitude towards the human spirit. While my education ingrained my interest in helping our society, I was cast as an actor in a feature-length film during college. Music and movies were my outlets then, but now I’ve combined my love for both humanity and the arts.

Since graduating, I’ve acted on stage and in feature-length and short films with abilities in commercial, theatre, film, and improv acting on stage. To add, I’ve developed a singing style with soul-fusion and Indo-Western vocals, with a special knack for writing lyrics and a melody. I share memories of learning music from a “guru” in India and have since then been teaching myself and exploring sound in our world.

In addition to acting and singing, I share a deep love for the craft of filmmaking and songwriting and enjoy finding cinematic meaning in the mundane. My goal is to spread love, light, humor, and, of course, a greater message through my creative projects in film and music. My grandma named me “Rohini” after a constellation in the sky, so similar to a shooting star, I hope to bring some good fortune to a creative project. 😉

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
There is no such thing as a smooth road! Rather, it’s a flight of stairs to climb towards a summit with amazing views and rest-stops for reflection and peace along the way. It’s also necessary to be prepared before climbing these stairs while each step forward brings us more growth. Sometimes we also have to take a few steps back to get some perspective.

The journey towards becoming an artist, creator, and entrepreneur-at-heart was not overnight or a piece of a cake. There were days when I felt lost and some days when my spirit said a hearty “yes!” to making things happen. I either learn something new or have to unlearn something every day.

One goal I had while “climbing these stairs” is making sure I enjoy the journey. Sometimes, creating becomes hard work and it is important to make it easy and fun. I ultimately realized that I want to thrive in positivity and joy.

My professional growth goes hand in hand with my personal growth too. In the beginning, the arts were my outlet for me to express love as a formerly closeted queer woman. Today, I am proud to share work that has universal appeal because love is love, as the saying goes, at the end of the day. The expression of love is the same for all of humanity.

A final challenge that I faced is having to juggle jobs with my passion. It is incredibly important to give every role and project my best while thinking about the bigger picture. We should aim to believe in ourselves with a positive frame of mind and focus on how it makes a difference to ourselves and the world around us.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The “Leo” in me says I am a #KidAtHeart Rockstar or a free spirit who makes the good kind of trouble (I was born in August). My work will tell you if this is true!

While it has been hard to not be on set or in a studio this year, I dedicated myself to independently creating film and music during this ongoing quarantine. This includes hosting & directing a travel film called “This Beautiful Journey” that garnered 100,000+ views online, has been featured in travel magazines, and has won accolades from film festivals including the New York International Film Awards, Montreal Independent Film Festival, LA Lift-Off Film Festival, and Tagore International Film Festival in India. This film also encourages viewers to travel “virtually” to the country where my family is from and to see how a queer tomboy gently breaks social boundaries in the local areas of India.

One of the offbeat projects I recently acted in and produced is a monologue series shot in my bedroom about a mad scientist from an island named “Dr. Bombastic.” While he teaches us formulas for finding happiness, the mini-series displays a lot of buffoonery and silliness and will give viewers a good laugh. It also shares a deeper message about how mental health has much to do with “letting go” and living life.

To add, I recently directed and produced a quarantine documentary called “The Sound of Our Trumpets.” It was shot in the 120-degree heat in the desert in La Quinta and is about how people from different walks of life and culture can connect through sound and frequency. In addition to filmmaking and acting, I’ve also been writing songs with a hip sound but the old soul and am looking forward to singing more. All of my work is displayed at “Rohini Works” on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. My goal is to perform in and help produce fresh, innovative, and immersive cinema and music that has a greater message and constructive purpose for humanity. The journey of storytelling has so far involved a lot of self-teaching and receiving inspiration from role models and fellow creatives. My dream is to work with a team of producers, marketers, and creatives to boost my vision. I share an appreciation for the diversity of thought and also the unity of sharing the same values so that one day we can see our vision come true on the big screen and hear our music resound in an arena.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
A childhood memory that will forever stay with me is a cable car ride that my family and I went on through the valleys of the Swiss Alps in Europe when I was a child. I am thankful to my dad for booking this trip to Europe for our family because it instilled my love for travel and my curiosity in learning about other cultures. I still remember the vivid green trees and white snow in that panoramic vista. And though I was seven years old and I did fall asleep for a good part of the trip, my trip to Switzerland symbolizes a child’s wonder and discovery when they experience something so new!

The trip also reminds me of my favorite animated content including Heidi and the Polar Express. On a final note, the Swiss Mountains so majestically display the magnificence of earthly miracles or really, the epitome of mother nature’s creativity. Mountains don’t just “happen” overnight – they take years of erosion, earthquakes, collision, and then accepting and resting in their space to really “become” themselves. We should be grateful to mountains, really, for so graciously bestowing their presence on our planet earth, and in some way, symbolizing humanity’s real potential.

Contact & Support Rohini’s work below:

Image Credits: for all photos Elina – Actorsessentials for the one in the yellow corduroy jacket

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