At the Bar with Sujata Day
~ Very Special Edition ~
Fans will recognize the luminous and vivacious Sujata Day from her role as "CeCe" on the insanely popular web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. It was an honor - and a hilarious experience - to complete this interview with her on November 18, 2011.
Sujata Day, you are beyond welcome here at the bar. So pull up a stool, grab a free drink, and tell the patrons a few things about yourself.
I have a chronic case of Bieber Fever. I’m Team Peeta. I wear Uggs when it’s 70 degrees outside.
Just out of curiosity, what does "Sujata" mean?
Sujata was one of the first disciples of Buddha. When he came out of his meditation, Sujata offered him a bowl of rice milk and said, “You don’t have to starve to be enlightened.” Very fitting for me, because I love to eat. A lot.
Many of us recognize you from ABG. How did you get involved with that project?
Twitter, can you believe it? I joined Twitter at the beginning of the year and started following Issa. 3 days later, she tweeted she was looking for a “mixed” looking girl to play J’s best friend. I messaged her and we set up the audition and I got the part. All hail the Twittersphere!
Cosmic! Are you similar to “CeCe” in any way? Do you have a lot of input in your lines?
Every month when I get the script, I swear Tracy and Issa have been spying on me. Hmmm, are you guys? I feel like CeCe is an exaggerated version of myself (sometimes spot on though!). I don’t think before I act. I dole out massive amounts of dating/relationship advice to my friends, even though I’m perpetually single. I get ditched for my friends’ boyfriends more than I’d like. I am EXTREMELY loyal to my closest friends and if you mess with them, heads will roll.
Issa’s open to improv and collaboration, which makes the actor in me feel safe and secure on set. Honestly though, my character is written so well, I’ll only just improv a line here and there.
What's a typical day like on the set of ABG? How long does it take to film an episode?
I shoot about 1-2 days per episode. Every episode is more fun to shoot than the last. It really feels like a family and after we’re done shooting, sometimes we’ll all just hang out and talk for hours. I think the guerilla shooting style has brought us all closer together because we’re holding in one area. I’ve been on sets where I’ve had my own trailer and you’re separated from everyone until you shoot your scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my trailer naps, but it gets lonely and you can only update your Facebook status so many times before peeps hide your newsfeed.
As Sujata, are you Team Fred or Team White J?
I’m Team Boys of ABG! Let’s throw Team A and Team Darius into that mix too. They’re all totes adorbs.
Team Darius, indeed! Love Tristan Winger! Now, I did some research on you and learned about your previous roles. Could you tell us a bit about your acting history?
I’ve been on a couple TV shows (Secret Life of the American Teenager, Desperate Housewives, etc.) and done some indie films (Directing Reality, Down for Life, etc.) and have gotten to play some really interesting dramatic and comic characters. I would love to play a Bollywood film heroine someday, lip-synching and dancing in the Swiss Alps in a wet sari lamenting my lost lover.
What’s it been like for you, trying out for various roles?
I’m gonna tell you about one of my very first commercial auditions when I first moved out here. I completely forget what the product was (maybe insurance?) but basically I entered the casting room, auditioning for the role of “pregnant teen.” The casting director wanted me to pretend a stork was chasing me, mime open a door and lean back against said imaginary door in relief. So on action, I’m holding my fake pregnant belly with one hand while waving my other hand like a lunatic up in the air, sprinting from corner to corner in a tiny room, screaming gibberish at a make believe stork who was after my first born. Needless to say, the relief I felt at the end of that audition was not acting. Oh, and I did NOT book that job.
So what drew you to acting, and how did your family react when you made the decision?
I was super shy as a kid. Bengali being my first language, I didn’t talk much in elementary school and was constantly getting sent home with notes saying, “Sujata needs to speak up in class, she’s too quiet.” In middle school, I forced myself to be extroverted and tried out for everything. I mean, everything. Basketball, track and field, swim team, cheerleading, tennis, rifle team (even though I’d never held a gun in my life)… and I pretty much just sucked hardcore at athletics. Finally, I got a small part in a musical called “Guys and Dolls”, had one line that made the entire auditorium laugh and that was it. Bitten by the acting bug!
My family is extremely supportive. They just want me to be happy… and go to med school. My mom, Chhabi, secretly wants to be a stand up comedian (she’s HILARIOUS and always the life of the party) so maybe someday she can play my mom in something I’m in.
Will you ever go to med school?
No, but I will open a school for girls born into brothels in Kolkata so that’s kinda like saving lives, right?
*shrugs* It counts in my book. Do you engage in any other art forms?
I took Bharatnatyam for 10 years growing up, an Indian classical dance. I LOVE karaoke. I play the guitar and an Indian instrument called the harmonium. The first song I ever wrote on the guitar was called “Leo Leo Leo” about my imaginary boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio.
Who inspires you as an actor? Are you involved in any other projects at this time?
Funny, smart women! Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Laura Linney, Patricia Clarkson, Parkey Posey, Kristen Wiig… fortunately, the list just keeps growing and growing.
I’m working on an album with my bestie, Will Collyer, which we’re currently developing into a musical web series. I just finished a dance mockumentary called Big Breakin’ directed by Mattio Martinez that comes out in 2012.
Awesome! Tell us a more about your album!
It’s an album of hipster duets (think She & Him), which started as a joke and then the songs actually turned out halfway decent. Hopefully the first music video drops in March.
And what does the future hold for the fabulous Sujata Day?
My tarot cards read success, philanthropy, and gorgeous guys. I’m a psychic on the side.
Miss Day, thanks so much for stopping by the bar. I can't express how awesome it was to interview you.
Thanks so much, Ankhesen!!