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Interview: "I haven't consciously tried to carve out a niche for myself" - Krystal Kiran

By Armin S. Saturday, May 20, 2017 07:37: AM

Krystal Kiran is one of those individuals who will inspire the artists within us to explore. She will be seen in the musical of the Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair. Her ability to transform, explore, and reach out to the audiences will soon be abundantly obvious to the crowd. Here's our conversation with Krystal Kiran.

You are one of the most successful faces in theatre outside of India. Yet there is little exposure given to actors of your caliber. Do you feel like theatre artists get the credit they deserve?
Thank you for your kind words. For me, it's not so much about getting credit as it is about getting opportunities to play meaty and challenging roles. Unfortunately, we are still in a time where South Asian and Middle Eastern actors in the West are generally offered stereotypical roles in the mainstream. Not only this, when roles of a larger scope come around looking to cast actors of our communities, they are often not cast authentically. I do feel the tides are turning, albeit slowly. Until roles are written for actors of our community to really sink their teeth into, there's no credit to be had. One step at a time. It all starts with what is written on the page, what gets produced, who the decision makers are in terms of casting, so on and so forth. Once the opportunities exist, then we can decipher whether or not actors are getting the credit they deserve.

You have been a part of many journeys, from television, to stage, to film. Where were you inspired from? 
I was inspired from a young age by Bollywood, AR Rahman, film and tv shows I grew up watching in Canada and pop stars like Janet, Prince and JLo along with old Hollywood actors/dancers like Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. I also get very inspired by reading, being in nature, being around family/friends, my boyfriend and our dog, Rumi!

South Asians outside of India often have a hard time making a name for themselves within the traditional mainstream realm. Is there a niche that artists such as yourself have managed to carve in North America?
I haven't consciously tried to carve out a niche for myself, but rather have always followed my heart. My culture as a Punjab/South Asian-Canadian has always been a major influence and source of inspiration in my work as a performer. It's a huge part of who I am and I find that the more I embrace and share my roots, the more professional opportunities seem to open up for me. Therefore being a product of both east and west, perhaps on a subconscious level I have been carving a niche out for myself. 
Being in North America, it has taken me a little longer than my friends and colleagues in India to get a foothold. Understandably, there is exponentially more opportunity for South Asian artists in India. My fellow tour-mates on the AR Rahman tour went back to India and are now  doing beautiful, fantastic work and killing it! But the journey for a South Asian artist in North America is very different than that of a South Asian artist in India simply due to lack of opportunities. In terms of creating a niche, I take it as a compliment because it has required a lot of persistence, yet patience. When the opportunities aren't there, sometimes you feel like giving up. But then, every so often, these surreal opportunities come up (Bombay Dreams Broadway, AR Rahman World Tour, Lord of the Rings, Monsoon Wedding) and you have to be on top of your game and craft to be able to seize them. You cannot rest on your laurels in between gigs. You must stay ready.
Lastly, but not least, you have to go out and create your own work. Write, direct, produce, choreograph, teach, mentor, etc. When the work isn't coming to you, as an artist, you go and create it.

Do you think social media has helped bring more exposure to you?
From time to time I share videos of myself singing, dancing and teaching, so in that way I feel it gives an insight into who I am and aspects of my work and life. But I haven't necessarily used social media as a tool to gain more "exposure" per se. I know many people do (which is awesome), but it's not something I have particularly focused on or curated. I do post alot of videos/pictures of my dog. You can even follow him @rumistails. He's super cute!

Coming to the Monsoon Wedding musical, how did you become involved in the project?
I initially auditioned for Monsoon Wedding over two years ago and didn't hear anything back right away. This past fall they contacted me again and asked me to read for a different character and I received an offer soon after. When it comes to auditioning, you never truly know what's going on in the heads of the casting team. You just do the work and, let's be honest, most of the time it doesn't work out, but sometimes it does. And it's awesome when it does!

Mira Nair is a name that draws attention from many critics and audiences alike. What does the name and person mean to you?
To say I loved the film version of Monsoon Wedding along with other films like The Namesake, etc, would be the understatement of the year. I am so incredibly excited to be working with Mira ma'am. I have immense respect for her as a director and story-teller and she is a living legend in my eyes. Monsoon Wedding deals with some very real subject matters that are taboo to discuss in our culture. To work with a South Asian female director who is courageous in tackling those topics is incredibly inspiring and reminds me of why we do what we do. It's an honour to help tell this story and I hope that everyone who comes and sees this show feels loved, understood and, most of all, accepted. 

Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
I'll be guest starring in an upcoming Season 2 episode of "Private Eyes" with Jason Priestley which was a wonderful experience. I also recently taught a musical theatre intensive in Mumbai for the first time which was really cool, so I plan to go back and do that again in the near future. Aside from that, que sera sera... just going with the flow and open to all possibilities!
For more information on Krystal Kiran, visit or follow her on social media @krystalkiran
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