Supinder Wraich began performing at a young age and received her big break when she appeared in the award winning web series Guidestones. Her latest project, The 410, debuted this month on CBC Gem and I had the chance to talk with her about her lead role. Wraich is not only stars in the series, but she also wrote it and this isn’t the first time she has worn many hats in her work.
Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and your path to becoming an actor?
I think my entire life I’d known I wanted to be an actor, but it took me a long to time 1. Admit it to myself, 2. Admit it to my parents. I went to a very Math/ Sciences focused High school, though even then, I would go on Craigslist and apply for acting gigs, music videos that sort of thing. But I never told my parents about it because I was afraid they’d make me stop. It wasn’t until I’d moved away for university, that I took an acting class as an optional course. The class itself honestly wasn’t great… but the essence of what was being taught, hooked me.
From there I began studying privately and through an acting teacher found an agent in Toronto. I was living in Ottawa at the time and would drive 4/5 hours to attend auditions in Toronto and back. It was insanity, and all this time, no one in my family knew!
When I finished university with a degree in Communications, I convinced my parents to help me go to Film School, which was still a few degrees away from being an actor, I figured Filmmaker sounded like a safer option than actor (now I know both are incredibly precarious occupations!) Out of film school, I signed with a different agent and booked a few commercials. It was only then when my parents saw me on TV, and had validation from a few other relatives that they began to encourage my decision. But in all honesty, we’ve never to this day had a proper sit down conversation where I outlined that I wanted to do this as a career. I just kind of did it, and somehow along the way they’ve come to support my decision.
While at Sheridan College you were part of the Sawitri Theatre Group, can you tell me more about that and how it inspired you?
Sawitri was a very special time because it was right before my awakening to the idea that acting could be a career choice. When I landed my first role in a Sawitri Theatre production, I had just finished film school and had grown so accustomed to being behind the camera, that to be on stage as an actor felt like coming home in a way.
It was in that community that I met Gabe Grey and other ethic actors who while preforming in this community theatre were also pursing careers in mainstream media. Most importantly, they were Indian.
I’d never thought that being an actor would be a valid occupation for a South Asian person, and it was there that a light bulb went off that I might actually be able to do this. Developing that initial connection to a community of South Asian artists was a significant stepping-stone in building my confidence that this was an industry that had a place for me.
Guidestones is noted as a web series that was a big break for you, could you tell me a little about the series and your work on it?
I play Sandy Rai in Guidestones, she’s a journalism student who finds herself entangled in a web of conspiracy surrounding the Georgia Guidestones. Guidestones was an incredible experience that allowed me as an actor to travel the world. We went to India, UK, Greece, The Ukraine, France, the US. Till then, it was the biggest role I’d ever done and eventually the show went on to win an Emmy, and I won the Canadian Screen Award! Jay Ferguson, the creator of that show had also only worked in docs before we made Guidestones and watching how he moved, the experience really taught me to have the mindset of an independent filmmaker; that if I want something, I had to go after it relentlessly. Jay was an example every day on set of setting goals and knocking them down day by day.
You have been in a tremendous number of series already, what have been some of your most memorable moments on those sets?
One of my favorite experiences on set was working on The Good Doctor, I played a woman who is the first chair with the San Francisco Symphony. She goes in for an infection on her nail bed and ends up losing her arm! The storyline is devastating, and filming the scene where I wake up to realize I’ve lost my arm, was really tough, and I was terrified before we shot of going into that head space.
We must have shot that scene 12 or more times. It was my first time working on a big American series, and I wasn’t prepared for the amount of coverage we ended up doing. By the end of the day, I was exhausted, my eyes were raw from crying all day; it was intense! I was lucky that I had a caring and generous scene partner in Fiona Gubelmann, and although that experience was one of my toughest days on set, it’s also my favorite.
You are starring in the upcoming web series The 410, can you tell me about your character and the series?
The 410 is currently steaming on CBC Gem for Canadian viewers to watch online for free, without a subscription. The story centers around Suri (Surpreet) Deol, an Indo-Canadian wannabe-Instagram-it-girl who’s forced to return home to the suburb of Brampton, ON after her truck driver father is arrested for smuggling narcotics across the border. The series is a fast paced, family crime drama with a South Asian anti-hero female protagonist taking the leading role.
What were some of your favorite moments working on this project?
Being in production, postproduction and seeing The 410 come to life was so surreal and rewarding, but I think my actual favorite moments were writing the series. When I was trying to figure out the story, I would think about the show, and the characters uncontrollably. I loved reimagining and repopulating the place where I grew up as this slightly different world, with these complicated characters. I would go for runs, and blast Bhangra in my headphones and daydream entire scenes. Some of those made it into the show, some didn’t, but I had a blast doing it.
What do you hope viewers take away from the series?
I hope people from the South Asian diaspora come away with a sense of pride at seeing ours stories and struggles represented on the small screen. And I hope everyone else can also just enjoy the show at face value as a crime thriller.
Could you share some details about your directorial and writing work?
Previous to completing The 410, I had written and directed two short films on a much smaller scale, casting friends of mine and calling in a lot of favors for crew/ equipment etc. Both films in their own ways dealt with the Immigrant experience and explored aspects of ‘otherness’ in some way.
I think the idea of not quite belonging is one I’m constantly exploring in my work both consciously and unconsciously.
Alongside your family, you also volunteer your time with Seva Kitchen, can you tell me a bit about the organization?
Seva Kitchen is a Sikh lead organization that operates on the values of providing langar (free meals) to those in need. In that spirit, the charity brings outdoor street Langar to Toronto’s downtown homeless during the fall, winter and spring months. Seva means ‘to be in service’ and this wonderful organization serves those in the core who need it the most.
Where can our readers keep up with you and your work online?
I try to post about what I’m working on, on my IG. I have a love/ hate relationship with social media, because in a way it feels disingenuous to me to constantly be posting about my work projects, but I also follow other people who I enjoy hearing about their projects/ successes, so for now I’m allowing myself the same grace.
My IG is: @supaloops, which is the one I’m most active on.
Also, readers can following @the410_series on IG for updates/ behind the scenes footage and watch the series on CBC Gem.