Crown The Brown: Anil Sankaramanchi
Our Crown the Brown community is no stranger to some familiar faces, one being Anil Sankaramanchi. Anil is known for having more than just a center stage presence. Similarly, he embraces his culture proudly without any hesitation! A western world, a desi boy and a multi-talented soul conquering all. That is the definition of this amazing young man. We had the privilege of interviewing Anil to find out more about his life behind the big screen in terms of his brown excellence. Here is what he shared with us!
Actor, dancer and all-round brown culture promoter, Anil Sankaramanchi is a name that we all know will make headlines. Tell us more about the man in front of the camera, what makes you Anil Sankaramanchi.
Other than just a name and a face, and some weird iteration of a personal brand. What I think truly makes me who I am is one quality, passionate curiosity. If I am the slightest bit interested enough in anything, I will dive in head first to the end of the rabbit hole. That quality took some time to develop. But over the last several years it has been the single greatest catalyst for my growth as a person.
Apart from passionate curiosity, I have had an affinity towards living life top-down. Macro to micro. What that basically means is I read quite a bit of poetry. Everything from Vedic texts to contemporary work. This serves to be a library of wisdom by which to measure my decision making and prune my understandings of life. If you ask any of my friends who have had super late night conversations with me, they would swear my brain is comprised mainly of quotes from other literary works.
You have been in the entertainment industry for 6 years, what inspired you to start acting and at what age did you realize that it was your passion?
Well this one is a hard one to place. I’ve always been comfortable in the limelight. Storytelling was one of my favorite hobbies. It was present from my earliest memories. It was junior year of high school, when I was 17, that procrastinating a project in physics pushed me to a small existential crisis. After a bit of reflection I whimsically decided that night I would give acting professionally a shot. The early beginnings of my career were new to me, learning to audition and finding ways to get my foot in the door. However, on set, I was home; everything was new but somehow familiar. It was just like playing pretend with my friends as a child, but now I get to do it for a living.
What do you enjoy the most about being an actor and why?
In my opinion, I’m still just telling stories and I absolutely love it. There’s this expanded experience of life I go through, when I read moments of a character’s life in a script, and have to reconstruct the character’s past that led them to that moment, exactly as it happened. In a way, it’s creating the untold story of a character and being able to somehow share that with the audience between the lines on the script. Therein lies an inexplicable feeling of fulfillment.
Apart from acting, you are quite a talented dancer, bhangra being your primary dance. How did you start dancing? What impact do you hope to make with your dancing talent on your audience?
It was also around junior year of high school (can you tell junior year was an interesting time for me?) I initially started my dance training as a hip hop/break dancer with a club at my high school, Dancing for a Cause. Where I had many mentors who helped me develop technique in the hip hop dimension of dance. Word got around that there was a dancing Indian dude. I was contacted to join a Telugu dance team as a substitute for someone who dropped. That was my first step into desi dancing. Much later, I was exposed to bhangra at one of my university’s bhangra nights. I quite honestly fell in love.
Over the last three years, I’ve been slowly developing my understanding of nonverbal expression through this medium. The impact I hope it has is to somehow inspire someone to find that in themselves. When I dance, I do it with the utmost passion for that moment in which I am dancing. How that translates over is hopefully a message of fulfillment.
I’m not asking people to take up dancing across the world, but I’m asking them to take up something that fulfills them, and makes them happy. I look forward to a future where everyone does what they love, so that inspiration is everywhere I look.
Being a South Asian male in the industry, I am sure you have experienced a lot of challenges as well as being classified as a minority in the industry. What would you say is the most challenging part of being a South Asian actor?
You aren’t wrong! The challenges are kind of double sided. We live in an era where Hollywood wishes to diversify, but there aren’t roles being written for South Asian men unless they are leaning on their South Asian tropes. In my opinion we have yet to meet an South Asian Brad Pitt because the industry isn’t looking for one.
They want a really good real life version of Apu, with all the bells and whistles of what makes South Asians who we are. My challenge has been to become someone the industry recognizes for being a good safety for the tropes, until I can venture off into non-trope work. As for now, that’s a matter of finding the right collaborators to create content to push that envelope.
In the industry, many of us are seen as minorities. How do you think we as a group can break those barriers in the entertainment industry?
This kind of goes in hand with the previous answer, but the idea is establish good storytelling. Find those writers who have an amazing story to tell, encourage them to write. Actors who can tell stories well, and encourage them to perfect their craft. Find directors who can pull stories from their surroundings, and encourage them.
Somewhere along the way, in a collaborative effort, the right story will be told in exactly the right way, and nothing will be the same after that. So if you, reader, have a passion for any aspect of storytelling, chase that. I hope to experience your work one day; or even better, work with you to bring it into the world.
Do you think that there are stigma’s attached to males in the industry? If so, what are the misconceptions that people have of South Asian actors in the industry?
The industry doesn’t particularly see South Asians as a pro or con. It is purely circumstantial. If an actor/actress is good at what they do, they will be considered. After their level of talent has been assessed, then the question of race comes into play: does it make sense to have a South Asian play this character? Would that story fit in this paradigm?
The odd fact of the matter is I’m almost always the only South Asian in the room, because the marketplace doesn’t know we’re more than just doctors, lawyers, computer science, and FSA/CFPs.
Looks, talent and of course a brain filled with knowledge, you studied neuroscience in college. What has college taught you the most?
College has been a ride, to say the least. College was where I developed my scientific approach to my craft. ;Likewise, understanding how the human brain works. How behavior can be conditioned, giving birth to personality. However, more than what I’ve learned that I can be tested on. College taught me all of the skills that it takes to succeed. It taught me late nights are for solo work, and group projects are about proactive initiative. College taught me there’s time for the classroom, and time meant for being out of the classroom. College has taught me important life lessons. Some things about the human brain on the side here and there.
What impact do you hope to leave on your audience regarding your platform and talent? How do you wish to make a difference by embracing your culture in a western world?
Identity is a huge part of this game, for me. Knowing who I am, what I’m about, and what I love to do keeps me hungry for more. My brown culture is part of the package. I grew up around the rich wealth of the ancient Indian culture and all the wisdom it comes with.
My relationship with Vedic scripture has been there to teach me the value of the arts, as well as the hard times that come with them. In a way of thinking, the difficult times serve only to teach me important life lessons so I honestly don’t think I’d ever wish I never went through those difficulties.
I know this is who I am, and my cultural identity is an unavoidable chunk of that. I want to pass this feeling of knowing who I am, and I am doing what I want to be doing to as many people as I can.
What advice would you give other actors trying to make a name for themselves and other South Asian creators?
Dear South Asian creators, I know it’s hard. The community doesn’t always provide support. I know the deck is stacked against you. Here’s my two cents: start. Start writing, directing, acting. Sure, it won’t be sunshine and rainbows all the time, but with enough time and consistent work, you’ll be where you want to be. Oh, and here’s another tidbit: collaborate. Work with others. develop a relationship with your local production community. I am here for all of you. Reach out, I’d love to hear from y’all!
Anil Sankaramanchi ladies and gentlemen. A young man we can all look up too. Not only has he achieved so much of knowledge and craftsmanship at such a young age but he has impacted others through his own journey. Be sure to follow his journey on instagram – @anilsankaramanchi .
Be sure to follow Crown The Brown: @crownthebrown_ .