From a Shiamak Davar musical to a Gujarati web series, Ria Patel, born in Jaipur, raised in Australia and now living in America, has a reel story to tell
It’s an “eclectic” accent, smiles the 22-year-old. “I have an Australian accent but strangely, at times, I sound British or South African to some Americans and to the Aussies I sound American and I sound Indian when I’m angry, so yes my accent is eclectic.”
Ria Patel is a Gujarati girl, born in Jaipur, raised in Australia and now living in America. She loves adventure and always wants to try something different. Growing up she developed a fond interest in the arts and explored different aspects like painting, dancing, graphic design, textiles, but her heart finally chose acting, and she moved to the US and graduated with her bachelors in Acting for Film and Television from The New York Film Academy.
She is now in Los Angeles pursuing her dream. “It’s not about the fame and glory, for me it’s about storytelling. People go watch a movie not just for sheer entertainment but to feel something. It’s a private experience, why do you think the lights are out?”
Ria has been acting since she was young. At age 15 one of her very first lead roles was in a Shiamak Davar musical, where she played a deaf and blind character. “This was my debut but it is also one of my favourite roles. It was both challenging and uplifting.”
“I know in the industry if you get typecast, it makes it easier for them to cast you. Most of the time I get looked at as the sweet girl, but I refuse to be labelled”
― Ria Patel
Some of the interesting characters she has played in the past include a femme fatale villain in the dramatic short Maxy’s. She recently completed a web series about the “adventures” of Uber riding called Rideshare Chronicles.
Another favourite role of hers was a homeless woman who also suffered from mental illness May Logan, in the production Eastern Standard, directed by Maria Gobetti. “It was a wild and emotional journey, most of us steer clear when we see a homeless, but do we know their story? They are humans too. Playing May gave me a lot of insight, I even went down to Hollywood Boulevard, where you find a lot of them, to observe them.”
Ria has a knack for playing vastly different characters “I know in the industry if you get typecast, it makes it easier for them to cast you. Most of the time I get looked at as the sweet girl, but I refuse to be labelled, I love being outside the box and pushing myself.”
In 2015 Ria was honoured to interview the Indian Badminton players at the Special Olympics in Los Angeles. “They were so inspiring, one of them told me that it wasn’t about winning but simply to make her country proud,” she said. Ria worked with the New York Film Academy to cover this interview. She was able to talk to the team coach as well. “Although acting and sports are different, something that resonated was the joy and pride in representing their country and this is something I aspire to do too.”
Ria completed her first feature film with award winning independent filmmaker Shomshuklla Das. She played a woman madly in love in the enigmatic world of a poet, she is a creation of his words
Soon she will be working on the first ever Gujarati web-series with a Phalke award winning filmmaker. She has been cast in season 2 as the lead for Varta re Varta (Story Tales). “This is such a big deal as not many Gujarati actors get noticed out in Hollywood and a web series in Gujarati is quite unheard of too, so for me to be a part of this is a privilege, I am thrilled to be representing the Gujjus,” she cheers.
Ria completed her first feature film with award winning independent filmmaker Shomshuklla Das. She played a woman madly in love in the enigmatic world of a poet, she is a creation of his words. Ria gave an audition while she was visiting her family in India and Shomo loved what she had, “she made me cry…I hope she goes far” said the filmmaker. The film will be going to various festivals; Berlin, London, Amsterdam film festival. Columbia Gorge International Film Festival and the Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema.
Along with acting, Ria loves to write. She wrote a short film dedicated to a close friend of hers killed in a hit and run. It’s a sweet and simple story about a woman who is an aspiring baker, but who loses her younger brother and with him, her will to pursue her dreams. The film deals with her journey to accept the truth and find her passion again. “What I love about films is that it lives on. The movie is for my friend, telling him that he continues to live on forever in my heart.” Ria is hoping to send the short to film festivals soon.
“I have been very blessed with the people I have met and for these amazing opportunities. I know I have a long way to go but I’m looking forward to the journey. More importantly, my parents are a constant support. So this is for them and I aim to make them proud.”