August 6, 2022
Suraj Sharma still finds himself coming back to the same question: why am I often the only South Asian on set?
It’s been a decade since the 29-year-old Delhi-born actor’s breakout role as the title character in Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning 2012 film Life of Pi (he beat out 3,000 other actors and had no prior acting experience). What followed were a series of notable film roles, including in 2014’s Million Dollar Arm, the fourth season of Homeland that same year, 2015’s Umrika, 2017’s Phillauri (his first and only Bollywood film so far, alongside Anushka Sharma), and 2019’s The Illegal. In many of those films, Sharma’s cultural background defined his roles — which had plenty of stereotypes (for instance, he played a terrorist’s nephew in Homeland).
It was a tough go, the actor said, especially as his goal heading into the industry had always been to break that well-worn mold. But a recent switch-up in genre has been his saving grace: from 2018 to 2020, Sharma starred in the CBS comedy-drama series God Friended Me, followed by a role in the 2019 slasher comedy Happy Death Day 2U, and the recent and freshly renewed Hulu sitcom (and How I Met Your Mother spinoff) How I Met Your Father. Now, with the new Netflix rom-com Wedding Season, Sharma has (finally) become a full-fledged romantic lead.