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Parminder Nagra says she was once turned down for a TV role as show ‘already had an Indian person’

Written by on 29 April 2021

Actress Parminder Nagra has said she was once turned down for a TV role because the show had “already got an Indian person on the cast”.

The British star, who rose to fame in Bend It Like Beckham in 2002 before going on to appear in medical drama ER and other shows in the US, said the same thing would never be said about a white person.

Nagra, 45, spoke about diversity on screen in an interview with the Celebrity Catch Up: Life After That Thing I Did? podcast, and said that conversations around the issue can sometimes become about getting a “box ticked”.

Parminder Nagra stars as Rebecca in Intergalactic. Pic: Sky UK Image: Nagra can currently be seen as Rebecca in new sci-fi show Intergalactic. Pic: Sky UK

Discussing the role she was turned down for, the actress, who is from Leicester, said: “I remember asking to go up for a job because an actress basically left. It was a well-known TV show here.

“An actress had left the job because basically she’d fallen out with the other actor.

“I remember phoning my agent and I went, ‘Do you think maybe you could just suggest me?’ The character’s very non-specific in terms of family and between 35 and 40.”

Nagra said that the “word that came back was that they have already got an Indian person on the cast”.

She continued: “I went, ‘Yeah, but I’m completely different to that person’.

“Is that going to happen when you say we have already got a white person on the show? I don’t think that conversation’s happening.”

Nagra told the podcast that things have “moved on” in terms of diversity in the television industry, and highlighted the success of stars such as Oscar nominee Riz Ahmed and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

However, she said: “I have been in rooms where people have gone, ‘That’s not going to sell because there’s too many brown people in it’.”