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We're thrilled to see Jaya Prasad starring in "Family Party," just released on Netflix. She's doing press now and here's an inspiring interview on the film and on being a Indian-American actress in Hollywood. We're proud that this film was shot in Northern California. Yay Jaya!

‘Family Party’ Actress Jaya Prasad on Building an Acting Career as an Indian-American

There has never been a better time to be an Indian in Hollywood—and Prasad couldn’t agree more.

There has never been a better time to be an Indian in Hollywood—and “Family Party” actress Jaya Prasad couldn’t agree more. Prasad, 27, plays the role of Arti on Netflix’s 50-minute narrative that indulges in the Indian-American lifestyle and evokes laughter and emotion while doing so.
Prasad has been a theater actor since she was a child, and began modeling at the age of 16. After studying mathematics and economics at the University of California, San Diego, she began working in the tech industry in San Francisco. Prasad’s talents in both these varied fields have led her to numerous accomplishments at her young age. For example, she launched a social networking app for kids as the entrepreneur-in-residence at a startup while also starring in “Ab Laut Aa,” a music video by Bollywood sensation, Sunidhi Chauhan. When she found out a local film was casting an Indian girl, it was an opportunity she did not want to pass up. She met Pari Mathur, director of “Family Party” for the audition—and clearly, she was the perfect fit.
The narrative tells the story of Arti (Prasad) and Nick (played by Vishal Vaidya), two Indian-American teenagers who are trapped at a family graduation party for Arti but would rather be with their own set of friends at a concert happening in town. They decide to pair up, and with another friend’s help, hatch a plan to escape—and that is when things start going south. The narrative is full of moments that each of us can relate to.
Prasad believes that her character is a blend of innocent adventure and calculated persuasiveness, which she plays with her natural charm.
“Before we started rehearsing, Pari asked me to watch two old movies: ‘Footloose’ and ‘The Graduate,’” Prasad explained. “He communicated that Arti’s character simultaneously encompassed the free, fun-loving aura of Ariel from ‘Footloose’ and the seductive nature of Mrs. Robinson, in that she could mysteriously persuade an unsuspecting victim into doing what she wanted. Once I understood her motives, it was easy to step into the role.”
“Family Party” is very reflective of the Indian-American life, but that’s not what it is limited to—it also somehow connects to the life of any immigrant. It is easy to feel like we belong in that world and can relate to at least one or more characters or scenes.
“Honestly, I would love it if each person who watched ‘Family Party’ walked away with the reminder of a memory, or feeling like they could relate to something from the film,” Prasad said. “The characters are all very real, from the parents to the aunties and uncles to the friendships and the teenagers with all their angst.  Though the film happens to revolve around a typical Indian-American family party, the relationships, and emotions driving the story would be the same in any household or high school.”
Prasad has always been drawn to the arts, whether it is acting, dancing, or singing. Her career as a runway model began when she was 14, and that opened her up to the idea of being in front of the camera—so she began taking acting lessons.
“It was in those first acting classes, whether I was getting into a specific character or simply improvising one, that I realized I could act forever,” Prasad confessed. “Acting naturally fosters an empathy for others and an understanding of different perspectives, and I became hooked to that feeling of connectedness and how it trickles over into how to live life.”
Luckily for her, and Prasad believes this too, this is probably the best time to be an Indian trying to break into the American entertainment industry. While she believes a lot remains to be achieved for South Asian actors, she also feels that we are making significant progress.
“There is plenty of room for everyone to come in with new ideas and share new stories, and honestly, the more people see those stories, the more they will open up,” she said.
This is definitely the case; however, existing prejudices due to ethnicity is also a huge deal while getting roles. You end up not being right for the part or the role is based solely on minority stereotypes. Only recently has this trend begin to change—and for the better, of course.
“I’ve never experienced this in an overt sense though I know it exists and that I’ve been exposed to it,” Prasad said. “I think the most important thing is to be confident in your craft so that in the meantime while things keep changing, you can blow them away with your performance and continue booking the roles that weren’t originally intended for “someone like you”.”
Prasad can identify with this dynamic shift, not only in the field of entertainment but also in technology. As an Indian ‘techie’ in the Bay Area, you learn a thing or two about being boxed in by who you are—however, she has broken out of that shell too. Moving to San Francisco after college, Prasad was inspired to make something of her own. Her first project was to develop a social app for kids age 13 and below.
“Not only was there a huge market for it, but I love kids,” Prasad confessed. “It was an extremely challenging project because of balancing countless child protection regulations with an effort to keep the app fun and engaging, but it worked out really well and we launched on the iTunes App Store. During my time at the incubator, I also developed a web series to empower girls.”
When she decided to start acting full time and leave the incubator, she shut everything down. In 2014, she started studying acting at the Lee Strasberg  Institute in New York City.
Prasad believes that the beautiful thing about being a South Asian in acting right now is how much opportunity there is to inspire others and contribute to new perspectives and growth within the industry, though there is still some resistance to overcome from both sides. Within the Indian community, an acting career still requires explanation and justification. The more it becomes acceptable for new generations to follow their dreams instead of falling into expected career paths, and the more Indians pursue creative endeavors, the more the world will be exposed to the different ways of thinking that only increased diversity can bring.
“Our culture has a beautiful value system that includes concepts like hard work, respect, and education, and I want to show that these values do not need to be compromised by going into entertainment and that it’s okay for kids to aspire to make a difference through film,” she said. “I hope that as more young people see ‘different’ faces like mine on television and watch movies like ‘Family Party,’ they will be inspired to join and create as well, and continue to break down barriers from all sides.”


Chandra Bourne | Ask the Professionals Interview

Cast Images is celebrating our 25 year anniversary this year!

No better time to share this terrific video from Studio 24...they asked agency owner Chandra Bourne to be the first guest in their new series Ask the Professionals and we're thrilled with the result....

We cover the submission process, the interview, the do’s and don’ts, common misconceptions, and the important role a talent agent plays in your career. So come along with us for the inside scoop.

(If you cannot view the video, click HERE.)


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Cast Images | Studio 24 Interview

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Chandra Bourne - Cody Dorkin - at Cast Images


Peyton Vizenor | Bosideng Campaign

Peyton Vizenor channels the future in Bosideng's FW 2015/16 Campaign.


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Peyton Vizenor_Cast Images_Bosideng

Mara Croesy |

Mara Croesy for

Mara Croesy - Cast Images -

Who's in Charge on Set? Studio Teachers...

Terrific article on the role of a studio teacher on set from's much more than just school work.

Listen to the full story HERE.

Neel Sethi plays Mowgli in the upcoming film adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. During filming, Neel worked with studio teacher Lois Yaroshefsky to get at least three hours of school in every day, as the law requires.
Neel Sethi plays Mowgli in the upcoming film adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. During filming, Neel worked with studio teacher Lois Yaroshefsky to get at least three hours of school in every day, as the law requires.
Eleven-year-old Neel Sethi is about to be kidnapped by monkeys. Rigged up to a harness in front of a blue screen, he prepares to run, leap and cavort — a live-action dance that will later be mixed with computer-generated animals.
The young actor is working on a scene for the upcoming film adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. And while more than 300 crew members watch his every move, director Jon Favreau keeps an eye on the clock. That's because Neel is the film's only live actor — and he's a kid. (The film features the voices of grown-up actors — Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley — but Neel is the only one you see on screen.)
All sorts of laws govern the use of children in movies — time limitations, procedures, rules to keep them safe and educated — and Lois Yaroshefsky is in charge of enforcing them. She's Neel's on-set teacher, and she's taught in schoolrooms and movie studios for almost 40 years. She's also taken courses in the laws surrounding the use of child actors.
Yaroshefsky worked on the sets of The Fault in Our Stars, Anchorman 2, Bridesmaids and two Mighty Ducks movies.i
Yaroshefsky worked on the sets of The Fault in Our StarsAnchorman 2Bridesmaids and two Mighty Ducks movies.
Cindy Carpien/NPR
On the Jungle Book set, Yaroshefsky teaches three young performers: Neal, his stand-in and his body double. (When Neel comes to the end of his permitted work hours, the body double takes over.) The young actors are schooled on set for a minimum of three hours a day, as the law requires. And they're not three consecutive hours — they're catch as catch can. Yaroshefsky runs a clock on every encounter and if it's less than 20 minutes, it doesn't count.
"The fact is that Lois is the boss," says director Jon Favreau. "You're on a set, you could be spending millions and millions of dollars and you could have everything set up, and at the end of the day, you [have] to look at Lois. And Lois is checking the watch and checking the kid." Because by 4pm on this day, it's all over. By law, the workday ends for Neel and his cohorts after nine and a half hours, including school.
The Classroom
Now, about an hour before lunchtime on the Jungle Book set, Yaroshefsky and Neel huddle over a computer. At last, they're in school — a nearby room with a counter holding three computers, one for each kid. The walls are festooned with personal stuff: photos, crayon drawings and Mets souvenirs for Neel, who's a New Yorker.
For Yaroshefsky, a room like this isn't always a given. "There are times I have held class out in a field under a tent, sometimes using a space heater or an air conditioner," she says. "... The most important issue in any situation is that the children are in a quiet, private area where they are comfortable and able to focus."
Neel decorates his own desk area in the studio classroom. His doubles, Seth Demora and Mateo Demaya, are also schooled in this room.i
Neel decorates his own desk area in the studio classroom. His doubles, Seth Demora and Mateo Demaya, are also schooled in this room.
Cindy Carpien/NPR
Neel will be in and out of this classroom for seven months while he works on The Jungle Book. School — history, math, science — comes to him online. Each boy has different lessons that Yaroshefsky supplements and supervises, hovering to keep them on track.
"I'm not only the studio teacher, but I'm a welfare worker," she says. "I'm always there on set, especially if it's anything dangerous. In my opinion, the schooling is very important, but the welfare is probably the most important part of our job ... the safety, the health concerns. Because, parents, they do have to be here, but they're not the ones that are saying yes or no to whatever is happening."
Neel's parents are here — either Gina or Sam Sethi is on set throughout the shoot. "He loves the shoot," Sam says of his son, "but learning is fun for Neel."
Neel wasn't raised to be an actor. In fact, his parents hope he'll follow in their footsteps. "We're both dentists," Sam says. "And that's the seed we planted in Neel's head. But, you know, this was a calling from above, a blessing, and here we are."
'I Want To See Myself On A Big Screen'
During one break, a slightly wired Neel explains how he manages to stay focused when he goes from a history lesson to flying with monkeys. "I just say, 'If I do this, this and this, the movie will be done and I can see it,' " the actor explains. "And I want to watch it a lot. And I want to see myself on a big screen."
Ego can also be a problem with young actors. Yaroshefsky tries to keep them grounded, but it isn't always easy. "I've had some kids that have been real problems, and I've had a few kids fired off of different movies," she says.
But Neel gets it. "He understands," Yaroshefsky says. "I'm about, today, to talk to him and ask him to thank these two boys for what they do. You know, the real actors in the real world, they thank their stand-ins, they thank their stunt doubles. I want him to be a little more humble, and he'll get it."
Back on set, a crewmember asks Yaroshefsky if there's time for another take. She gives the OK, and Neel flies across the blue screen one more time. When he's done, the crew gives the actor a round of applause. That's a cue for Yaroshefsky to start clocking: half an hour to eat, then another block of school.