It takes time for brown people and people of different ethnicities to get into the Hollywood world, which is predominantly Caucasian and African American.
I didn’t go to church, I didn’t go to synagogue; I went to temple, Hindu temple, where I prayed to my Hindu gods – whether or not I believe in it is another story.
It just so happened that my agent called and said, ‘There’s this movie ‘Pitch Perfect.’ Here are the sides.’ I think I originally read for Bumper, because Donald didn’t have much in the script, so I read all Bumper’s lines. I beatboxed for them, because that’s what my character was supposed to do. And then I was like, ‘By the way, I rap.’
I didn’t have a role model. My role model was Michael Jordan. Bad role model for an Indian dude… I didn’t have anyone who looked like me. And by the time I was old enough to have what could have been a role model, they were my peers. Aziz Ansari is my peer. Kal Penn is my peer.
The amount of love I get from India, from Pakistan, from Asia, from Persia, Malaysia – people are just like, ‘Brown boy doing it, brown boy doing it!’
I moved to New York – I attended NYU, did a BFA in Acting at NYU. I was really into hip-hop, so I started battling, like ‘8 Mile.’ I used to rap battle.
You have to find a way – and thankfully for me, it’s been music – to separate yourself from the racial identity. It’s not easy, and I continue to work, God bless, and I’m really, truly appreciative of it.