Crown The Brown : Ashish Gangarpersad
Crown The Brown interviews the talented Ashish Gangarpersad. Ashish is known for his work on screen, especially in South African soapies such as Isidingo, Scandal and 7 De Laan. Ashish also charmed us with his character in 3 Days To Go. A movie near and dear to our hearts! Not only has he made our community immensely proud in front of the camera but he is also quite tech savvy leading to us finding out more about Ashish as a businessman as well! Here is what Ashish shared with us!
South African Actor and businessman, how would you describe yourself and your work?
Well, as the saying goes – do something you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. And I can attest to that. Being an actor, to me, doesn’t at all feel like work though it does require a lot of input in the form of time and energy. But it is Oh So Fun! Being in any creative industry I think it’s imaginative and playful world.
However, you have to be aware that in creating something, you are putting it out there in the world and people will be viewing and experiencing it so it is important to identify what sort of artwork your are putting out into the world and be able to understand I think, why it needs to be out there.
As for me, I’m very easy going. I try to find as much as possible to be happy about in my day to day life and always try to be mindful, respectful and kind to everyone that I interact with. On or off set.
What inspired your passion for acting? Where did it all start?
It began at a very early age. I didn’t know how, why or what exactly it was but I found as I grew older and matured, the reason for wanting to become an actor grew and matured with me. I recall very early on at school we were asked what we would like to be when we grow up and the conventional answers were presented, doctor, lawyer, teacher etc and I remember saying I’d like to be all of them.
I’d like to think my reason at the time is I didn’t believe in just doing one thing and being tied to THAT ONE thing for the rest of your life. People should have the option to change and find and do what makes them happy. In a way though, being an actor does allow one to be many things…
You are known for your work on South African soapies Isidingo, Scandal and 7 De Laan. You were also part of the 3 Days To Go Movie. What do you enjoy the most about being on set and working on various projects?
In my 10 years in the industry, I have never had a bad day on set. I love everything about it as much, if not more from the day I started. I love the fact that I get to play all sorts of characters and be placed in various situations. Finding truth in these situations as well is part of the journey. Making it relatable and grounding it so that you can capture, even if it’s just one persons, imagination.
Getting to work with such talented people as well is also wonderful. I’m always looking to stretch myself as an actor and some of these veterans really make you bring you’re A-Game all the time.
What do you think is the biggest challenge as an actor in the industry, especially regarding diversity on the big screen?
This is a tough question as there are so many important challenges we currently face in the industry at the moment. But for me some of the important issues I feel are – the ability to unify the country through film and television. By that I mean, if you look at the SA film industry, the highest grossing films are all foreign – and by a HUGE margin. They don’t speak to us on a cultural, religious or ethnic level yet they perform so much better than ‘local’ films.
I do understand the business side of it, as the theaters have to make money and we as SA can’t compete with big budget multi-million Dollar productions – I agree. But then why is the price of a ticket for a $300 million dollar film the same price as a South African film which would be lucky if they had a budget of R10 million. A ‘local’ film should cost a ‘local’ price and offer the same of amount (of time not necessarily production value) to the customer/viewer and have them go home with change in their pocket.
I also feel that we let our differences come in the way of being great. We are our own worst enemy as a people – in more ways than one – and this hinders us in the sense that if we have 11 different languages then we have to have 11 different types of people to cater to. When a film or television show is being pitched, questions like who’s the demographic or target audience for this show? I feel that immediately poses a problem as we are catering for a specific type of audience rather than adopting a model – this is a South African Show for not only South African People, but also the world.
What has been your biggest achievement or favourite moment in the industry thus far that you’ll always cherish?
There’s been a lot of moments that I’ll always cherish. Working with some of my favourite international actors to doing stuff with South African actors with whom I’ve built incredible friendships and bonds. But one that definitely sticks out – playing a Gay Character on national television at a time when it was still a bit taboo was a challenge in itself.
I had received many hand written letters one of which helped a young man come out to his family as being gay and the fact that they loved the show and the character I played – Prada – was one of their favourites, made it easier for him to talk to them about it and to an extent for them to accept him as he is. That for me was a moment I’ll never forget.
What are some of the stereotypes you have faced as an entertainer?
I really do try and stay away from stereotypes in all regard. There are some stereotypes I fell I don’t do well and I respect other artists that can play those types of characters but for me it goes back to boxing yourself in for a particular type of audience. It may be a character or someone that has characteristics that only appeal to a certain type of audience – and that for me is moving away from inclusion and togetherness.
How do you use your platform to encourage others and break barriers within the entertainment industry?
I do my best to always inspire people be it in person or over an art-form. It is NOT an easy industry and I’ll always encourage people to get into it for the right reasons. It’s important I think not to sugarcoat anything but rather try and make aspiring actors see that although there may be bad times, when there are good times, it’s thoroughly enjoyable. And it’s important to celebrate the small wins.
You have recently started a new venture with a partner, an app called PixzAR. An augmented reality platform. Tell us more about it.
Yeah I have and it’s been doing really well. What it basically is – is a scanning utility that you can use to access relevant digital information offer real world static objects. It’s a free downloadable app from your app store. It’s designed to save people time and provide a new and interactive way to access information.
We have partnered with Caxton Local Media and we augment around 35 newspapers in the Gauteng/Soweto Area. Some of the benefits of this saw several pages or articles in the newspaper ‘coming to life’. An example of this would be you scan the front page article and the actual interview of the person would play over the paper from your phone.
We also recently launched a competition in which we’ll be giving away R10,000 every week. You can check out more details here…
Do you have any future projects that our readers should know about?
Yeah most certainly. I’ve been working on a legal drama series called Flawed for the last 5 years now. I didn’t think it would take this long but we’re of the belief that we should measure twice and cut once in that we need to do this show right or not at all.
I also have written several short films and features which I hope to produce soon. Other than that I have been fortunate enough to work on several international films. All releasing some time next year. I’m sure there’s more of Kevin Ramsey to come on 7de Laan as well.
Lastly, any advice for aspiring actors out there?
If it’s important to you, you’ll find a reason, if not, you’ll find an excuse. I think this applies to many aspects of life. If you believe you have a talent that you want to explore, and that you can use an art-form to make a difference in peoples lives – however small – then it’s your duty to explore that talent and work hard at perfecting the skill. Don’t give up!
Ashish Gangarpersad is surely one passionate young man! A man of many talents. From the big screen to entrepreneurship as well! PixzAR is surely worth downloading and we cannot wait to see what else Ashish has in store for the future! Be sure to follow his journey.