We had the good fortune of connecting with Sapra and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sapra, how do you think about risk?
I am grateful for the opportunity.
I have been in Los Angeles for 12 years; I haven’t been back to my home country for last 7 years. I have my health, a car, a rented apartment and about 25 projects to my name. This is what I have earned in the last decade. I have put my youth on the line to pursue my dreams.
I think not having a secured income, a house, a classic family and living 25 thousand miles away from your parents and siblings are all part of the risk I as I am an artist that has chosen the path to pursuing my dreams.
I think not having an option “b” is how I define as risk!
I think knowing that you are all alone in a foreign country with no support from anywhere is defined as risk.
I think starting a film project without thinking where the money is going to come from is a risk. Paying every crew member their wages as an independent actor musician is called taking a risk.
However, the biggest risk is to invest in yourself as an independent investor! I have invested over 200k of my own hard-earned money in last 12 years on myself and my projects as an artist.
And I won’t stop! Knowing that you haven’t even made 10% back from your investment yet and you keep investing is what’s called a risk in my dictionary!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have a passion to perform, a desire to entertain. My passion started at an early age and followed me through high school when, as my fellow classmates were taking their final exams, I was already on tour with productions around the globe. By then, I was accustomed to being different from kids my age as I’d been playing drums, tablas, and bongos at various events long before my friends were even old enough to attend. This cycle of performing and touring lasted five years as I completed my school exams in a vacant classroom long after school had gotten out for vacation.
Today, I am considered a triple threat— a multi-lingual East Indian performer who can act, rap, and dance.
Over the last decade, I’ve toured pan India as the lead with some of the biggest international theatre shows in the country, many of which have been seen by the deputy Prime Minister of India. I also spent five years with three high profile productions of Puss in Boots, Bo Ba Laba Books, and Jumbo Circus. It’s only gotten better since then!
Today, my career has come full circle as I am now on tour with the Mystic India World Tour. I am honored to perform as a lead actor and narrator in a part that allows me to engage with audiences by promoting world peace and cultural exchange in productions that have taken us around the globe and introduced us to over half a million viewers!
I’ve been the lead actor in films like “Ishq Nashila”, “Coco”, “Ishq Nashila 2”, the latter of which went viral and was premiered by the biggest YouTube channel in the world T Series. I also was a lead actor and rapper in “Always on My Mind” and “Haiwan”. All of these are produced in Los Angeles. All these projects have reached millions of people on YouTube and other platforms.
Outside my role as a performer, I am also incredibly active in the community with organizations like the World Peace Organization (Soka Gakai International). I’ve emceed events, fundraised, and participated in public service announcements for the RSG Foundation, Women in Film, and the Khushi India nonprofit organization in addition to serving over 500 police officers during a health event for the Los Angeles Police Academy. I’ve given live performances to boost morale and fundraise at venues like AIM FOR SEVA USA in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Indo American Association of Houston, Texas, Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, the Ohio Arts Council in Cleveland, the Victoria Theatre Association in Dayton, Ohio, and the Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio.
Lessons I have learnt
1) Keep creating content, you must make and open your own doors. Every day, every project, every step counts.
2) Follow your heart, it’s going to be hard to follow your passion however if anything brings you happiness you must do it. Experience is the biggest teacher. I have learnt to be an optimist from my heart and a pessimist from my mind. Hope for the best plan for the worst.
3) “No prayers will ever go unanswered” if we give it your all, chant, care for others, be honest and respect everyone. (Nicheren Diashonin)
4) Don’t be afraid to ask for help and collaborate with whoever wants to work with you. Create content with what you have now, the projects will get bigger and bigger eventually. Never let money stop you to create. Start the project, take the first step and the rest will follow.
5) Read and chant/meditate. Focus is key. My favorite books are Miracle Morning, Think and Grow Rich, Buddha Next Door and Art of Living by Epictetus.
I believe in the power of youth and all my songs and art are focused toward creating awareness and enthusiasm through arts. I like to make music and films on provocative topics like drug awareness, sex education, female empowerment, Covid-19 etc. When I see humanity suffering, my empathy level goes off the roof and I can’t help but want to create something impactful. I admire topics and concepts relating to equality and tolerance.
The biggest challenge is to do all this alone and believe in thyself all the way. Never give up on myself! You are and will always be the only person who believes the most in yourself.
I overcame my biggest challenges by making everything fun around me, nothing is work for me, my work is fun I do it 24/7! It’s my choice to do what I like and not just take projects for the money only. I enjoy my freedom and have kept myself fresh with that approach. I compare myself with myself but not to others. Being an independent, self-funded artist is challenging however when you see the final project and it reaches millions of people that joy is amazing!
Things have become easier now thanks to the internet! You run your own distribution and you can be someone big $$$ overnight thanks to the technology today. No one can stop you, the middleman is gone! It’s your art and the audience.
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 would take them to following places including:
1) Sequoia National Park for the wonderful trees. I haven’t seen bigger trees than those before. I love the nature.
2) Hounds Tooth Inn in Oakhurst, CA is my favorite hotel to stay at. It’s near Yosemite and I love hiking and spending time there.
3) Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena, CA is the most peaceful and beautiful place in Los Angeles.
4) Hiking: Nature preserve in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, near Trump Golf Course my favorite place to hike. The Pacific Ocean and nothing else which includes an amazing view. You can see the Pacific from top of the mountain. My most favorite place in Los Angeles.
5) Peace yoga gallery: we do yoga, then a massage and then the owner serves us a coconut water with fresh tacos all made from raw plant-based ingredients right in front of you. Served in lettuce with fresh seeds and superfoods! My favorite place to eat.
6) Sky Diving in Lompoc, Santa Barbara has the best views. I take all my guests there.
7) D6 Horse Ranch in Apple Valley. My brother Ty Nitti owns a big ranch and many horses. I like to take my friends there too.
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 have remembered following guidance from my friends and family and I cherish these everyday:
1) My first business partner in India who believed in me when I was in college. She said “Change is the only constant in life,” Priyanka Khanna.
2) My mom who always encouraged me to peruse arts and took me to auditions in India. Harsha Sapra. My dad Pramod Sapra who invested his hard-earned money to send me to states.
3) My mentor Disaku Ikeda (President of Soka Gakai) who taught me the power of cause and effect. He says “Victory is my unavoidable destiny.”
4) Joel Rudnick (Cao Paradigm Talent Agency) said in 2101 to me in a one-on-one meeting that keep creating content and let the agents come to you don’t chase them, as then they will owe it to you, not the other way around.
5) My attorney and now uncle Joginder Shah who has always supported me in my endeavors.
6) Amit Shah (President Aatma Performing Arts) who gave me my first break to tour worldwide with his show “Mystic India World Tour.”
7) My music mentor and Producer (Ara Murzo) who showed me my true talents.
8) My costumer and mentor Michael Philpot who put in hours of work on my costumes.
9) Director and Editor Michael Washington who collaborated with me on most of my art projects and gave it his all.
10) My friend and colleague Justin Knodel (cinematographer) who always encouraged me to film more and more projects.
11) Sartaj Randhawa and Salma Habib my current managers who are constantly putting in the work as they believe in me.
My last music video (Always on My Mind) just got published in Rolling Stone India.
Other: email@example.com Actor, Musician, Film Producer 818 428 7052
Vern Evans Samip Gandhi