The rise of South Asian stars


After the recent hype surrounding the new season of “Bridgerton,” which stars a South Asian actress, I am proud and surprised at the amount of support that the show’s new South Asian female leads are receiving from viewers. As a South Asian teen, I am awestruck by watching these actors thrive in the world of Hollywood. Growing up, I always imagined myself in the actress’ position, and to see it come to life is revolutionary. 

Even though people are raving about these South Asian roles presented in “Bridgerton,” this isn’t the first time a South Asian actor has taken their acting skills to Hollywood. For example, most people are familiar with Priyanka Chopra as the actress who married Nick Jonas, but I know her as one of the most recognized stars of Bollywood. That’s why I made a list of some of my favorite appearances of South Asian actors in hit Hollywood movies. 


Deepika Padukone in “xXx Return of Xander Cage” 

Like Chopra, Deepika Padukone is a well-known Bollywood actress who made her Hollywood debut as Serena Unger in the “Xander Cage” film series. To be honest, I had never wanted to watch a “Xander Cage” movie until I knew she was going to be part of it. I didn’t realize that this was a popular series starring celebrities Vin Diesel, Ruby Rose and Samuel L. Jackson. 

Padukone was absolutely stunning in this film. I have never seen her in a role like this before. Usually she plays the sweet, innocent girl who falls in love with the male lead, but to see her play a more bold, mischievous role was exhilarating to watch. After the “xXx Return of Xander Cage” was released, the press tour she went on was even better than the movie. Watching her talk about her life in Bollywood and Hollywood in publications such as Vogue and Glamor with A-list celebrities was me witnessing my two worlds collide. 


Harish Patel in “Eternals” 

Having grown up watching Marvel, I make sure to watch every single Marvel movie that comes out. Going to see “Eternals” opening night, I was mainly excited to see Harry Styles in the post credit scene, but I was distracted by the hilarious remarks South Asian Harish Patel’s character made throughout the film. 

Although Patel had such a small role, his character is what kept me invested the entire time. A weird habit of mine is that I research the actors and visit their profiles while watching the movie. I learned that Patel has played many characters in plenty of Bollywood movies and is starting his career in more Hollywood projects, such as “Eternals,” and is currently working on a reimagination of the Hollywood hit “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”


Sophia Taylor Ali in “Grey’s Anatomy” 

I hate shows that drag on for too long, but I am already in too deep with “Grey’s Anatomy.” If you have ever watched “Grey’s Anatomy,” you know that all the main characters start the first season as interns, then proceed to the resident position and so on. As the main characters level up, there is always a new set of interns. Sometimes, the show turns some of those interns into main characters or important side characters. In one of the most recent intern groups, there was a Muslim woman who made a heavy impact on the perspective of the show. 

Despite there being little diversity in the beginning, the most recent seasons have added more diversity than ever before. Sophia Taylor Ali’s character, Dahlia Qadri, has worked to diminish the stereotypes of what it means to be a Muslim woman. As a young Muslim woman myself, I was pleased to see this due to the many inaccurate accusations being made about us and our commitment to our religion. 


There have been many South Asian actors who have started their career in Hollywood but don’t get as much recognition as they deserve. Even though some of these stars have a large following and receive great opportunities in their field, there are still trolls commenting on their style which ultimately turn into racial critiques. I believe that these celebrities are making a powerful difference and impact on the film industry, and I appreciate them for finally making me feel recognized.