Category Archives: Actor Profile

From High Tension Thrillers to Cutting Edge Emotional Dramas, Actress Daniela Junko’s Range Continues to Impress

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Actress Daniela Junko

When an actor brings a character to life on screen with such seamless believability, we’re sometimes led to wonder– is this character really just a natural extension of the actor’s off screen self? It’s when we see actors take on characters that are the polar opposite from one another and still deliver that same flawless authenticity (those such as Charlize Theron in “Monster” compared to “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games” series compared to “Silver Linings Playbook” and Denzel Washington in “Training Day” compared to “The Magnificent Seven,” to name a few), that is when we know the true strength of an actor’s craft. One such actor who boasts an undeniably impressive range that places her in the upper echelon of the world’s most skilled actors is Daniela Junko.

Tall, exotic and beautiful, Daniela Junko’s look gives her the coveted ability to easily portray leading ladies on screen ranging from the femme fatale to the damsel in distress and everything in between. Her physical attributes aside, it is what she brings to the table in terms of talent that has really made her a powerhouse in the industry.

Over the years Junko, who is originally from Brazil, has become known for her starring roles in films such as Frank Lopez’s (“Tangerine Sky”) award-winning crime drama “Three Kings Down,” the twisted thriller films “I Am Tommy Talbot” and “The Incision” with Delpaneaux Wills from the two-time Golden Globe Award winning series “American Crime Story,” the hit feature film “Rough Mix” with Asian Television Award winners Kay Tong Lim and Rebecca Lim, and most recently the emotional drama “Alone,” which screened at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

When asked what drives her as an actress, Junko explained, “As funny as it may sound, humans. We are such beautiful and complex creatures, even if we were capable of living for hundreds of years we would still not go through all the emotions and experiences that life has to present us with. To be able to study, understand and portray those different emotions, perhaps even help someone open their mind is a gift.”

From her body of work it is easy to see Junko’s interest, aptitude and dedication to discovering and experiencing the wide spectrum of emotional responses available and the many ways each individual character’s past experiences frame those responses.   

Two of Junko’s projects that really shine a light on her inimitable capacity to bring two completely different characters in two totally different genres to life are the films “Alone” and “The Incision.”

In Tekin Girgin’s thrilling crime drama “The Incision,” which centers on an organ trafficking ring led by an unscrupulous entrepreneur looking to expand his business, Junko gave a chilling  performance as Jessica, the point person who leads potential victims (or ‘organ donors’ as her character might refer to them) into situations where they are drugged and operated on. The leading lady of the film, Junko carefully imbues Jessica with multiple layers that make her intriguing and scathing simultaneously. The way she initially comes across, mesmerizing victims with her beauty and appearing affable and trustworthy, to her true essence as an evil power hungry woman with no identifiable value for human life, Junko’s performance on screen is difficult to peel our eyes away from as we wonder what her character is going to do next.

Whereas “The Incision” proved Junko’s flare for playing the villain, her role in the 2017 drama “Alone” directed by Angelo Perrino (“Dirty Spaghetti,” “The Lost Samurai”) revealed the actress in a very different light.

Riddled with vulnerability and emotional turmoil, her performance as Emma, a beautiful woman struggling to cope with debilitating depression, earned Junko a prestigious Best Actress Award nomination at the Madrid International Film Festival– and to anyone who’s seen the film, it comes as no surprise.

Starring opposite Swell Soubra, who is known for his work on the multi-award winning film “Lost Angels” and plays Emma’s boyfriend in “Alone,” Daniella powerfully depicts the paralyzing struggles those diagnosed with clinical depression face on an everyday basis. The on screen chemistry between Soubra and Junko is evident throughout the film, which is understandable considering their a couple off screen as well.

I love working with [Daniela], she is a tireless worker who demands the most from herself and everyone around her and she’s always great to be around. She is an incredible actress and storyteller,” explained “Alone” director Angelo Perrino. “The whole film would not exist without her… She is the film.”

Incapable of being typecast, Daniela Junko is one actress who has managed to defy all genre limitations and pre-existing expectations concerning the kinds of characters she takes on. Up next for Junko is the film “Killer Issues,” which will be directed by Jonathan Cocco (“Abduction,” “Twice Blessed”) and is expected to begin filming in 2018.

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Actor Profile: Australia’s Madalein Jackson

Madalein Jackson
Australian actress Madalein Jackson

Hailing from Newcastle, Australia actress Madalein Jackson first took to the stages at the age of 7. Performing in multiple theatre productions over the course of her childhood and teenage years, Jackson realized early on that acting was a passion she had to follow.

“I find acting to be extremely cathartic; it’s such a great outlet for expressing yourself.  Acting has always been a weird obsession for me that has sometimes been difficult to make sense of… There is also nothing like the rush of performing, I cannot think of anything else that compares to the feeling,” explains Jackson.

One of the aspects of Jackson’s talent that has made her such a dynamic asset to the theatre productions she’s starred in to date is her remarkable singing voice. Early on in her career Jackson’s voice landed her a coveted spot in Newcastle’s Hunter Singers choir, with which she travelled and performed across both Australia and Europe.

“Being a member of Hunter Singers improved my singing technique immensely… we were constantly learning and performing new repertoire, helping me to develop fast learning and excellent sight-reading skills, both of which are extremely beneficial in the musical theatre world.” explains Jackson about being selected to sing for one Australia’s premiere vocal groups.

“I was lucky enough to be part of the European tour to Austria, England and Wales, as well as competing at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and being part of premiere performances of commissioned works by renowned Australian composers Stephen Leek, Paul Jarman and Gordon Hamilton.”

Jackson’s seasoned skill as an actress coupled with her powerful singing voice has made here a natural choice for leading roles in an impressive list of esteemed productions in Australia, such as “Urinetown,” “Seussical,” “Pride & Prejudice,” “Les Miserables,” “Animal Farm,” “Bugsy Malone,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Our Day Out.”

One of her most memorable performances, and one that definitely struck a chord with audiences, was her performance in the hit musical “Seussical” where she took on the starring role of Gertrude McFuzz.

“My favourite part of ‘Seussical’ is absolutely the music. It has such well-written, catchy songs, and we had an amazing cast and band who did such an incredible job bringing the music to life,” admits Jackson.

The play pulls together characters from Dr. Seuss’s most famous books, mainly those from “Horton Hears a Who!,” “Horton Hatches the Egg” and “Miss Gertrude McFuzz.” When Horton the Elephant hears a sound coming from a speck of dust he is convinced that there must be someone in it– so he places it on a clover and guards it; meanwhile the surrounding community led by the villain Sour Kangaroo go to town mocking Horton without mercy, all but Gertrude McFuzz. A shy and insecure ‘bird-girl,’ Jackson’s character Gertrude McFuzz is overwhelmingly in love with Horton, but fearing he won’t notice her because of her puny tail, she goes to the doctor who prescribes her pills to take to make her tail grow. Thrilled by the immediate results, Gertrude quickly overdoses on the pills, which lead her tail to grow to an enormous length.

Jackson’s ability to bring to life such an awkward and fantastical character on stage while singing all of the dialogue was tantamount to the success of “Seussical” in Australia.

When asked how she feels on stage, Jackson said, “It’s a combination of overwhelming euphoria and varying degrees of nervousness. It is exciting, nerve-wracking and exhilarating. It’s like jumping out of a plane without a parachute! A great audience will feed you energy and contribute to the highest high there is.”

Over the years Jackson wowed countless audiences with her capacity as an actress on stage, and in 2012 she made the cross over to the film and television. Her first role on screen was on none other than four-time Golden Globe Award winning series “Glee,” which she followed up with a featured role on the Golden Globe Award winning series “Enlightened” with Laura Dern (“Jurassic Park,” “The Fault in Our Stars”). In 2013 Jackson took on a key role as Miss Merryweather’s Assistant in the film “Wiener Dog Nationals” where she acted alongside Golden Globe nominee Morgan Fairchild (“Life’s a Beach,” “The Bold and the Beautiful”) and Jason London (“The Man in the Moon,” “Jason and the Argonauts”).

From the stage to the screen actress Madalein Jackson has created a dazzling repertoire of work that reveals the dynamic nature of her craft and we’re sure we’ll be seeing a whole lot more from her as time goes on.

 

The Character Actor Swell Soubra

Actor Swell Soubra
Actor Swell Soubra shot by Joshua Shelton

Hailing from Geneva, Switzerland actor Swell Soubra has become known for his roles in a plethora of high profile film and television productions such as Stan Harrington’s (“The Practice,” “The Insomniac”) multi-award winning film drama “Lost Angels,” which took home a whopping seven awards from the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival, Frank Perry Lopez’s (“Tangerine Sky”) dramatic crime film “Three Kings Down” with award-winning actor Marcos Gracia (“Black Jacks”) and most recently, the sci-fi action series “The Last Ship.”

While Swell quickly made a name for himself in the industry as a dynamically talented actor who can breathe life into virtually any character, his professional adult life began in a field that many would consider the polar opposite of the arts– banking.

“I used to be a Swiss private banker,” recalls Swell. “But then I did a commercial for Pepsi Switzerland, which was my first step into the acting world and I loved it. I was surprised that it was actually a job.”

That transformative step, one that has taken Swell on a journey far away from the 9 to 5 and one that ultimately led him to relocate to Hollywood, happened in 2011. Since then, Swell’s career has unfolded at an impressive pace with the now internationally sought after actor being called in for a variety of roles across genres.

The Last SHip

Swell was recently tapped to play a key role in the hit series “The Last Ship.” Created by Primetime Emmy Award nominee Hank Steinberg (“The Nine”) and Steven Kane (“The Closer,” “American Dad!”), “The Last Ship” follows the crew of a naval destroyer who are forced to consider the reality of a new existence on earth when an unexplained pandemic wipes out most of earth’s population.

Acting alongside Adam Baldwin (“Full Metal Jacket,” “Independence Day”), People’s Choice Award nominee Eric Dane (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Marley & Me”) and Bridget Regan (“Jane the Virgin”), Swell Soubra comes into the series in the premiere of season 4 directed by Paul Holahan (“The Man in the High Castle”), which aired in August. Kicking off the season with a bang, the episode follows the crew of the Nathan James ship as they traverse the globe in search of a precious seed that could save the world. Swell comes in as a businessman in Morocco who is connected to the black market sales organization in charge of selling the seed. Swell’s critical performance not only showcased his rare capacity as an actor and on screen magnetism, but the role also required him to converse in both French and English, something few actors can believably achieve.

Nominated for the prestigious Saturn Award in 2015 and 2016 by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA, “The Last Ship,” which airs on TNT, proved to be a powerful first foray into primetime television for Swell.

Swell explains, “Playing that character was an amazing experience because of the setup. Mixing languages on set was quite fun and I enjoyed being with such a great cast… It was a wonderful experience because Warner Bros., the production company, invested a lot of money in terms of the action scenes. Working with such a versatile director who worked on so many huge TV series was quite an experience.”

Over the past six years Swell Soubra has been tapped to play a wide range of characters including everything from a man struggling with depression in the film “Alone,” which screened at the renowned Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, to a transgendered serial killer in the film “I Am Tommy Talbot.” One of the things that sets Swell apart from most other actors in the industry is the fact that he is a versatile character actor. He starred in the films “Three Kings Down,” and award-winning director Tekin Girgin’s (“Mayweather Experience Documentary,” “Here’s Johnny”) dramatic crime film “The Incision,”

Up next for Swell is the dramatic thriller film “Killer Issues” from award-winning director Jonathan Cocco ( “The Max It Show” ).

 

Actor Profile: Ukraine’s Jane Kapriss!

Jane Kapriss
Actress Jane Kapriss shot by Chia Messina

Award-winning actress Jane Kapriss is known for her performances in an impressive range of films such as the romcom  “Mac Daddy & the Lovers,” which took home the Golden Reel Award from the Nevada International Film Festival, the film’s sequel “Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure,” Geraldine Winters’ (“Clownstrophobia,” “Clownstrophobia 2”) thriller film “Psycho-Path: Mania” with multi-award winning actor Keith Collins (“Gravedigger,” “Awake in the Woods”) and many more.

Originally from Kiev, Ukraine Jane knew from a very young age that she would someday embark on a career as an actress.

Jane recalls, “I was interested in acting since I was a little girl. When I was 13, my mom took me to the audition at a modeling agency. They signed me and… later the agency sent me to the World Championships of Performing Arts to compete in the modeling category. I begged them to allow me to compete as an actress as well. Thankfully, they did. And as a result I won bronze medal for acting. After that acting has always been my priority.”

It’s not at all surprising that the Veni Vidi Vici modeling agency signed Jane on the spot, she is absolutely gorgeous, but it’s her talent as a performer that has ultimately put her on the map.

Jane Kapriss
Jane Kapriss on set of “Hand For Luck”

Early on in her career Jane landed a lead role in the popular Ukrainian feature film “Hand for Luck” aka “Ruka na Schaste,” where she starred alongside some of Russia’s most recognizable actors, such as Nina Antonova (“Polar Fight,” “Iron Ivan”), Golden Eagle and People’s Artist of the Republic Award winner Armen Dzhigarkhanyan (“Assassin of the Tsar,” “The Edge”) and MTV Movie Award Russia nominee Oskar Kuchera (“20 Cigarettes,” “Law of Corruption”).

A criminal action comedy, “Hand for Luck” follows Grinya (Kuchera), a shy loser who loses his hand after being run over by a car; but as luck would have it, the hospital has a fresh hand on deck to replace it– the only problem is that it came from a gangster who died in an explosion that same day, and once it’s on Grinya’s body, it tries to control the show pulling him into the life of it’s former owner.  To make matters more complex, the hand comes equipped with a ring engraved with the last 4 digits of wire transfer password that every criminal in the city wants to get their hands on. Unable to remove the ring, Grinya becomes a prime target, but with the hand of a gangster leading the way he becomes the hardest loser any criminal has ever tried to catch.

Jane gave a knock-out performance in the film as Anastasiya, the niece of feared mafia boss Krestnyy (Dzhigarkhanyan), and the original owner of the ring. Bringing the comedy into the world of cut-throat gangsters, Jane’s character Anastasiya is a teenager who just wants to make-out with her boyfriend and pass midterms, but even when the criminal dealings of her uncle overflows into her normal teen life Anastasiya remains rather oblivious to it all.

Jane Kapriss
Still of Armen Dzhigarkhanyan and Jane Kapriss in “Hand for Luck”

Jane explains, “I loved this character. She was one of my favorites. It was very funny how oblivious she was to the crime world cause she grew up in. My favorite scene to act in was the scene where she enters their living room where the shy loser in on his knees at gunpoint about to get killed. There are gangsters with guns everywhere. And she disregards all that because she has to walk through the living room to pick up the pizza delivery.”

Jane’s portrayal of Anastasiya definitely lightens the mood in the film, while also driving home the idea that even a crime boss who kills people on a daily basis still has room in his heart for family and struggles through everyday problems such as making sure his niece doesn’t run off with her boyfriend.

Produced by Zebra Productions (“Dare to Dream”), “Hand for Luck” garnered an overwhelmingly positive reception in the Ukraine upon its theatrical release in 2008, which also helped to boost Jane’s celebrity status at home.

Producer German Arkhipov, head of Zebra Productions, says .“As soon as I read the script, I knew that Jane was the perfect fit for the role of Anastasiya. And I offered her the part right away. Jane is a magnificent actress, a true professional who can make the audience laugh and cry. It is a rare gift. As a producer, I have to be sure that my project has the best actors attached to provide further success of the show. Having Jane on board means that half of my work is done.”

After carving out a strong reputation for herself as a dynamic actress in Ukraine, Jane moved to the U.S. where her onscreen career has continued to flourish. Up next for the sought after actress is an upcoming TV sitcom directed by Lana Lekarinou (“The Sparkle”) and produced by Antonia Roman (“Altruism,” “Hollywood Tale”). While we cannot disclose too much, we can say that the sitcom is co-production between That`s So Funny Entertainment and LVP Films, INC., and Jane will take on the lead role of Kitsa.

“I just want to act as much as possible. It’s never enough for me. It might be a cliche to say, but when I’m acting, I feel that I’m alive. So I just want to have a chance to keep doing that,” explains Jane.

Canadian Actor Donald Heng Faces the Supernatural in SyFy’s ‘Ghost Wars’

Canadian actor Donald Heng followed a downright unorthodox route to break into the business, but it’s definitely working for him. The Vancouver-born Heng’s recurring role as Deputy Larry Foon on the new SyFy network fantasy/horror television series Ghost Wars encapsulates the Heng story, an offbeat, pan-professional mash-up of career choices that has placed him alongside some high profile stars.

“Quite frankly, I never felt I was attracted to acting for necessarily the right reasons,” Heng said. “I grew up admiring the police I saw portrayed in films and I wanted to be a police officer. I studied criminology in university. In the end, I figured being an actor would provide the positive aspects of being a cop without having to deal with the public pressure and boring administrative work.”

Born in Vancouver B.C., Heng had flirted with acting as a teenager, but after graduating high school and studying for a Bachelor of Arts Degree for Political Science and History at Simon Fraser University, he decided to obtain representation and study the craft in earnest.

“Despite that initial ambivalence, I fell in love with acting for all the right reasons. I acquired an agent and jumped in headfirst,” Heng said. “I studied acting with Jeb Beach for the next 5 years. And also worked with Matthew Harrison, Robin Nielsen and most recently, Andrew McElroy.”
Donald Heng 2

“Initially I just wanted to be on TV,” Heng said. “I can pinpoint the exact moment I decided I wanted to be an actor and that I was in it for the long run. My second class ever with Jeb Beach coincided with a deeply depressing moment in my life and Jeb helped me channel that energy into something I was able to illustrate through acting. I realized that I could take all the bad things I’d experienced in life and turn these into something good. Meryl Streep articulated it best as she remembered Carrie Fisher, ‘take your broken heart, and make it into art.’”

Heng swiftly parlayed that emotional breakthrough into a successful television career, with a small but memorable role in Disney’s T.V movie Girl Vs. Monster, a string of appearances on such series as Supernatural, Ransom, Arrow and, most recently, the elegantly terrifying Ghost Wars.

“This was a project that checked so many boxes on my list,” Heng said. “First off, I got to play a police officer which has always been a dream of mine. Secondly, I deeply respect the actors on this series. It was a wonderful experience to work with Vincent D’Onofrio [Full Metal Jacket, Netflix’s Daredevil], Meatloaf and Avan Jogia. I had some challenging experiences working on this as my character goes through some traumatic events in the series premiere. But it was a challenge that I welcomed and deeply appreciate the opportunity to have experienced it.”

His co-stars agree. “Donald was an absolute pleasure to work with,” Ghost Wars lead Avan Jogia said. “It’s so nice to act alongside someone who understands what each individual character brings to a scene and then, ultimately, the entire piece.”

Heng is also fully invested in his new role. “I am very excited about Ghost Wars,” Heng said. The horror/fantasy has experienced revitalization in recent years and demand for quality stories in the genre is at an all-time high. New shows have to meet that demand by integrating a very human story into the horror and develop a show that can stand on its own and be mainstream without just catering to a niche market. Remove the ‘creepy factor,’ and there’s still a very human story beneath it. By attaching that human component, it becomes easier to think about the character’s relationships and also about what might be at stake because of that ghostly entity.”

Heng stands at the cusp, savoring a rich, loaded professional moment in a fast moving career that has already come far and is poised to reach full bloom

“I just want to make good movies and TV,” Heng said. “And I want to do it for the same reasons that I fell in love with acting—I want to continue to push that goal of consolidating all the bad that is in my life and make it into something beautiful.”

Donald Heng will next appear as a guest star on episode 2 of the 4th season of The Flash airing on the CW, Tues., Oct.17th.

More Than Just a Music Video Heroine: Swedish Actress Josefin Nilsson

Actress Josefin Nilsson
Actress Josefin Nilsson shot by Tajna Tanovic

Audiences across the globe, hip-hop fans especially, will recognize Swedish bombshell Josefin Nilsson for her featured role in an impressive list of music videos in recent years, but her skill as an actress extends far beyond simply playing a music video heroine, although she does that incredibly well.

Earlier this year Nilsson was featured in the music video for Mike WiLL Made-It’s hit song “Perfect Pint” featuring Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane, and Rae Sremmurd. In the video, which was released in May and has already garnered nearly 15 million views on YouTube, Nilsson comes onto the scene as a gargantuan model whose legs the rappers driving a car between as she towers over the desert. Later on in the video fans will see Nilsson fly across the screen riding a rocket through the air, a trippy video to say the least.

Nilsson recalls, “The first music video I was a part of was actually a Chris Brown music video for the song ‘Bitches N Marijuana.’ I grew up idolizing Chris so the thought of actually being wanted for his video felt a little crazy at first.”  

In addition to  “Bitches N Marijuana Feat. ScHoolboy Q,” a 2015 collaboration between Brown and Tyga that earned over 20 million YouTube views, Nilsson has been featured in a number of Grammy Award winning artist Chris Brown’s other music videos, such as those for the hit songs “Grass Ain’t Greener,” which garnered more than 60 million views on YouTube, as well as Gucci Mane’s 2017 hit “Tone it Down” featuring Brown.

Actress Josefin Nilsson
Still of Josefin Nilsson from the “Perfect Pint’ music video

While Nilsson, who attended The Ballet Academy, one of Sweden’s most prestigious dance schools, has definitely made an impact with her featured performances in several hit music videos, her performances in films such as the startling horror flick Darkest Decision prove her strong capacity as an leading lady on film.

In Darkest Decision, which was chosen as an Official Selection of the Northern Frights Festival, Nilsson gives a riveting performance in the starring role of Cara Fox. Directed by Derek Quick (Fist Full of Glove, Lovisa, Set Ettiquette), Darkest Decision is a zombie film that follows a group of friends running for their lives, with Nilsson’s character Cara serving as the hero of the movie.

After being chased down by a bevy of bloodthirsty zombies, Cara, Darren and Jay lock themselves indoors, escaping in the knick of time. However, when Cara realizes Darren, played by Shane Liburd, has been infected, she has to make the pragmatic, but cold decision to kill him on the spot before he turns.

In Darkest Decision actress Josefin Nilsson nails her mark as the film’s fierce female hero, while also imbuing her character with just enough fear to make the situation believably terrifying. In the film Nilsson stars alongside Asians on Film Festival Winter Award winner Daniel Joo (Art of Deception, Fortune 500 Man), Diego T. Kuri (Life as a Mermaid, Golden State), and Mari Ørstavik (Killing Time in America, A Dolls House).

darkest decision film poster
Josefin Nilsson on the poster for the film “Darkest Decision”

About working on the film, Nilsson says, “It was really a great experience being a part of this project. It was a great team and the other lead Daniel Joo is such a great actor, I was blessed to work next to him on this film.”

Before making her way to Hollywood several years ago, actress Josefin Nilsson took to the screen in Sweden where she took on numerous critical roles in high profile productions such as the family romance film Eve & Adam: Four Birthdays & a Fiasco directed by two-time Guldbagge Award winner Catti Edfeldt, the International Emmy Award nominated series Laura Trenter- Fire! aka Det Brinner,  and the dramatic thriller Medicinmannen.

Up next for the actress is the film 7 Days a Kingpin, which is slated to begin filming later this year and will be directed by Paul Bunch (Waiting for Michelle, Crossing the Line, Thy Will Be Done).

Nilsson says, “I am super excited for the feature film ’7 Days as a Kingpin.’ I will be playing one of the leads and it will be great to be a part of such a big production. Daveigh Chase, known for ‘Donnie Darko,’ is starring in it and big producers like Scott Reid and John Ryan Jr. are a part of it.”

From Bollywood to Hollywood: Actress Karishma Bhandari

Karishma Bhandari
Actress Karishma Bhandari shot by John Clark

Born and raised in East London, actress Karishma Bhandari first made her mark in the Bollywood film industry back in 2012 when she landed the starring role of Sita in Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood.

Aside from being a skilled actress with magnetic appeal on screen, Bhandari’s extensive dance training gave her an added edge over the hundreds of other hopefuls vying for the role. Though she was only 19 at the time, Bhandari had already spent several years perfecting her craft at home in London. Her outstanding performance in the film Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood brought her widespread attention and ultimately proved to be the catalyst for the successful career she has today.

Directed by Encounters International Film Festival Award winner Aneil Karia, who also earned  the Grand Jury Prize Award from the Utah Arts Festival for her 2014 film Tag, the comedic adventure film Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood was commissioned for the Alchemy Festival, the UK’s largest festival of South Asian culture. The film followed Bhandari’s character Sita, Sheila played by Gurkiran Kaur (Oxasians, London Kahanis) and Rita played by Roshni Rathore (80’s Vampire Flick, Love Type D), three dance teachers at a local community centre who make it their mission to keep the centre open after a wealthy developer buys the property with the intention of closing it down in order to build a hotel. Chalk full of lively Bollywood dance routines, Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood’s endearing story about three young women battling the odds and fighting for what they believe in was a hit with viewers.

Karishma Bhandari
Still of Karishma Bhandari in pink in “Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood”

The first insight into the dynamic talent actress Karishma Bhandari has become known for, Southbank Centre Goes Bollywood proved Bhandari’s ability to portray a character who was the polar opposite of herself– a necessary skill for any true actor, and one that has undoubtedly led her to land leading roles in a wide range of films since.

Director Aneil Karia says, “Karishma’s passion is one thing that makes her stand out from the crowd, as well as her striking look and her warmth. It was a challenging, nuanced role in the film and she delivered a wonderful performance.” 

In 2016 Bhandari’s international reputation got an even bigger boost when she landed a lead role as Geeta in the Bollywood feature film Club Dancer directed by B. Prasad. The film follows Ria played by Nisha Mavani, an Indian girl who moves to the city where she tells her parents she’s landed a respectable job, however she is really a dancer in a club.

When her parents come for a surprise visit and find a man at her house who they assume is her boyfriend, but is actually a criminal who sought refuge from the police the night before, they immediately want them to get married. The man quickly disappears, but Ria finds another man, Amit, who’s identical to him and negotiates a deal with him to pretend to be her boyfriend in exchange for money, which he needs for his sister’s wedding. Bhandari’s character Geeta comes into play as the man’s soon-to-be-wed sister, a key character in the plot who helps further the love story that eventually develops between Ria and Amit, who’s played by Rajbeer Singh (Who’s There?, Ishq Junoon: The Heat is On).

Karishma Bhandari
Still of Raja (left) and Karishma Bhandari (right) as Geeta in “Club Dancer”

In the film, which Bhandari traveled to India to shoot for several months, she acts alongside notable Bollywood stars such as Filmfare Award winner Shakti Kapoor (Hungama, Musafir, Raja Babu) and Stardust Award nominee Zarina Wahab (Vishwaroopam, My Name is Khan), as well as actress Judith Shekoni (The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2, Ice, Ordinary Lies).

Although she was raised in London, Bhandari’s parents are originally from Punjab, India and she grew up speaking Punjabi– something that created a challenge for the actress as Club Dancer was made in Hindi. However, Bhandari trained diligently, learning a new language and adapting her accent for the role, and she seamlessly delivered her performance as if Hindi was her mother tongue.

One of the highlights of Bhandari’s performance as Geeta came towards the end of the film when she performed an intricate Bollywood dance routine, one that few other actresses could have pulled off with the same level of grace and style she brings to the screen.

Bhandari admits, “I had already had Bollywood dance training, but to do it on a massive set in front of a lot of people was challenging… We had rehearsals every day for about two weeks and when it came time for the shoot date I had the heaviest outfit to wear. It was a wedding song and I was literally covered in jewels, which made it difficult to dance, but I pushed through and made sure my movements were seen… the song was definitely the most memorable as it was amazing to see how it was edited together.”

Karishma Bhandari
Sill of Karishma Bhandari (center) surrounded by background actors in “Club Dancer”

Some of the other film credits Bhandari has become known for over the years include BAFTA nominee Jon Jones’ (Da Vinci’s Demons, Cold Feet) 2013 drama Lawless with National Television Award winner Suranne Jones (Doctor Foster), the Empire Award nominated comedy The Inbetweeners 2 with Simon Bird (Drunk History: UK, Friday Night Dinner) and James Buckley (Zapped, White Gold), Asko Pati’s (Love Station, Super Micchua) romantic action film Aashiqui: True Love with Ankush Hazra (Romeo Vs Juliet), the 2016 sci-fi drama The Conversations with Daniella Down (The Wedding Party), and more.

Having already made a name for herself in the UK and Bollywood, actress Karishma Bhandari is currently planning to make her move to the states where she will undoubtedly be in hot demand in Hollywood as well. Bhandari is currently in production with the upcoming series The Corner Shop where she plays the lead role of Maleeka, as well as the series Emergency: LA where she plays Nurse Persis Chadra. A supremely talented actress, we have no doubt that we will be seeing a whole lot more of Karishma Bhandari in the future!