We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikita Chaudhry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nikita, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I grew up as an Indian American kid in Baltimore, MD, with familial roots in India and the UK. I was raised in a tight-knit family that did not favor the conventional. A family who spoke their minds, made noise, and shouted from the rooftops when something wasn’t right or just. A family who is constantly growing from new experiences and discoveries, inviting whomever needs a safe space to come inside. Growing up as one of the few South Asian Americans in my school taught me the value, power, and necessity of my voice. And of my allyship. I was lucky to be involved in LGBTQIA advocacy, racial justice work, and mental health awareness from a young age simply because of my upbringing and because of those I was privileged to call family. Being brought up in this environment gave me the natural passion for and commitment to social justice, and the performing arts quickly became my medium. The value of dance and music in Punjabi culture pushed my heart towards the stage, and while the expectation may have been to pursue a medical career like my parents, both of my siblings showed me that it was okay to stray from “the norm.” That normal is not only overrated, but also doesn’t really exist. That being able to blossom into something of your own was actually the most powerful thing you could do. And that has had a strong impact not only on how I live my own life, but also how I call others into the work I do, and into my personal relationships. Without the inspiring family members, teachers, and friends, as well as the culture, opportunities, and rejections I experienced, I would not be who I am today.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Thanks to very supportive teachers who encouraged, challenged, and mentored me, as well as reminded my parents of my talent and abilities, I was able to, and privileged to, find myself at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. However, at Tisch and beyond, one of my biggest challenges was not only often being the only woman of color in the room, but also fighting against the existing systems in place. It often felt like when I would ask questions, challenge, or fight back, I would be met with the one in power silencing me, rather than collaborating with me. I continued to move through the world this feisty though, because I knew I wasn’t just fighting for myself. One of the biggest lessons I learned working within institutions and otherwise confining structures was to never ask permission. Looking back I am now realizing this has always been who I am. Someone who didn’t settle for what was otherwise accepted as truth, and continued to fight even when I got tired, frustrated, or depleted. As an artist and an activist, I have known that the world is bigger than me; opening myself up to learning more, insisting on justice, and creating space for others has defined my story.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite spots are all over LA, so this might not all be done in a day or a week, but here are some of my favorites that I’ve found in the short 2 years I’ve lived here….. Grab coffee at Coffee Fix in Studio City Take a walk through the Venice Canals Brunch at Little Pine in Los Feliz Hiking with a stop through Los Feliz Hills Stop by the Lettuce Feast food truck for a delicious vegan snack (or honestly another full meal) Watch Sunset at a tucked away beach in Malibu See a show at the Geffen Playhouse, CTG, Pasadena Playhouse, or another good one! Dinner at Speranza in Los Feliz/Silverlake Dessert donuts from Donut Friend Drinks at a local bar (there are too many good ones! Edendale, HOME, Tuning Fork, Hyperion Public) Catch a night-time view of the city somewhere up on Muholland or in the hills
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my family for being my rock!
1st Photo: Tarun Chawla Photography 2nd Photo: Anjni Raol Singh