1) Tell us about yourself. Where did you come from? What was your childhood experience?
Well, I am from Mumbai. I’ve lived in Toronto for just over 2 years now. At the age of 3 my parents signed me up for Bharatnatyam Classes. I continued that for over 10 years. It got to a point where I started taking interest in track & field and roller skating. Completely stopped dancing and switched over to competing for my school at state and national level competitions. Later during college dance, I’d witnessed college festivals where i;d watch groups showcasing their art and talent. Around the same timeI watched the film – Chicago and seeing Catherine Zeta Jones perform Jazz to All That Jazz gave me goosebumps. That made me want to take up dancing again.
2) What drove you to become a dancer? What was your inspiration?
After watching Chicago I knew I wanted to be the best Jazz dancer I could be. So I started researching how to go about it as in India there were no studios that taught jazz. Along the way my inspirations have been Yana Lewis of The Lewis Foundation of Classical Ballet, Brian Friedman, Yanis Marshall, Beyonce, Saroj Khan and more.
3) How does it feel to be in such a big Hollywood film, like Work It?
Somebody pinch me !!!! It’s been over a year since we filmed this movie and even today it doesn’t feel like it’s real. Its quite overwhelming and humbling at the same time. Really big realization factor to appreciate my journey and be proud of myself and not stop here!
4) How do you think your part in this film will affect others? How has it affected you?
The Audience will see the true representation of South Asian Culture. Be it style of dances or accent ! And I’ve received so many messages from brown girls around the world telling me how they’re so proud to see an Indian and India represented in it’s true form. They’ve also said that I’ve inspired them to follow their path irrespective of the color of their skin. It has definitely made me realize how important it is to stay true to your art form and culture. My confidence has definitely sky rocketed ! This opportunity is only make me work harder than before and dream bigger. Also makes me appreciate the support I’ve had throughout my journey and I really hope someday I can make a difference in the community.
5) If you weren’t dancing, what would you be doing? Any passions outside of your career?
If you’d asked me this 10 years ago I’d say.. Dance was never in the picture. When I finished High School I was aspiring to be an interior designer or represent India at Olympics for skating or join Indian Army (Army dream was after watching Hritik Roshan in Lakshya).
6) What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in your life so far? How have you overcome it?
REJECTIONS! I started training in 2009 and was ready in 2015 to face the world and start auditioning in my field of interest. Auditioning since End of 2014 till about last year when it finally clicked. Over 5 years of rejection from hundreds of auditions wasn’t easy. I went through depression, financially broke and started to lose faith in myself. Everyone around me, especially in India would tell me how I chose a wrong career path. How I should think of settling down and having a family. But my family and my mentor stood by me like pillars. Overcoming these challenges wasn’t easy ! I’d resort to shutting myself off from the world or watch something sooo inspiring or to come to the realization that everyday is a new beginning and keep moving forward.
7) If you lived in a tv show, which show would it be, which character would you be, and why?
Top 3 choices: Friends (Rachel) or Clair in Modern Family or Hilary in Fresh Prince ! I really enjoy watching and living ensemble shows. These characters have resonated with me perhaps because I relate to them somehow.
8) Any advice for aspiring dancers?
KEEP GOING! Some Days it might feel like you’ve plateaued but do not stop believing and manifesting your dreams. We all forget how far we’ve come from when we started and gotta continuously remind yourself of the smaller achievements. Another most crucial thing for any dancer is know your worth, research what and who you are auditioning for, train hard, master your skills. And most importantly in my experience VERSATILITY IS KEY!
For more updates on Work It, Indiana Mehta, and more, visit Urban Asian.
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