We had the good fortune of connecting with Sanjana Iyer and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sanjana, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I love taking risks.

I have always been a risk taker, now more so than ever! I was brought up in an environment and culture that valued safety and stability above all else. And those things are very important. But I know that I wouldn’t be living my dreams in the city of my dreams, if I hadn’t taken the right amount of risks at the certain points in my early adult life.

Were my decisions always supported? Yes and no. I had a strong support system but just like everyone else, my unconventional path was often frowned upon. In those moments, what kept me going was knowing that there is literally nothing else I would rather do with my life and what I get to do every single day now.

I decided to pursue my career in another country rather than my own (a very daunting task for anyone who has attempted the same). I went to acting school instead of focussing on an education that would reward me with stability and a regular paycheck. I even chose a life partner from an entirely different culture than the one I was brought up in. But as a result of these risks, my life feels richer than I could have ever hoped for.

If I could go back in time and do it differently, I wouldn’t.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an artist at my core. I have never not been that.

Art has manifested itself in my career as an actress, model and filmmaker. It gives me a reason to get out of bed every morning, and it fills me with purpose.

My journey was certainly not uncomplicated. I chose to leave behind the possibility of a far more stable life and career in India at the age of 17 and moved to the United States, where I knew no one. There were tremendous challenges along the way such as constant rejection, not knowing what box I “fit in” as an actor, visa related work restrictions, lack of mentorship and essentially having to carve out my own path through this industry.

But what I’ve learnt along the way is that everything in your life shows you who you are. The more you know what you don’t want, the greater clarity you have about what is right for you. And what is right for you will never pass you by.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love Soho House. It has been my place of calm and creativity. Whether its New York or LA, Soho house is the place to be and that is absolutely the first place I would take anyone to grab a mimosa. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give an enormous shoutout to my mother. She is the single great contributor in how my life has played out thus far.

She, at every single point, made a choice. And that choice was to believe in me; to believe in my dreams. She had her own fears and social pressures but at no point did she ever ask me to even consider giving up. There is, quite simply, no way I would be living the life I am living now if she had not supported me every single step of the way.

I was lucky enough along my journey to meet a wonderful man who has become the greatest love my life, who continues to show me how much he believes in me. He continues to affirm me and do everything in his power, from helping me with self tapes to critiquing my work, to help me achieve more of the things I want. He is my best friend and my home, and has enriched my life beyond my wildest dreams.

Instagram: @sanjiyer

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