Sujata Day is an actor, writer, director, and producer based in L.A. Starting her career with talent shows as a child (for 25 cents a ticket), Day went on to star in four seasons of HBO’s Insecure and as CeCe in Issa Rae’s The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, direct This Is My Story narrated by LeVar Burton, and have her own works such as Definition Please available for streaming on Netflix – however, she believes her greatest accomplishment to be “making the perfect cup of chai,” a part of her daily routine! Day also supports Black Girls Code, an organization “providing technology education” and instilling a love of STEM in young Black girls. Day advises young artists to “[not] set a time limit on [their] dreams.” Read on to learn more about Sujata Day and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Sujata Day
Heritage: South Asian American
Hometown: Greensburg, PA
Current City: L.A., CA
Current project: Definition Please
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?
Insecure, Awkward Black Girl
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Don’t set a time limit on your dreams.
How did you get your start?
As a kid, I put on my own talent shows for my family and neighbors and would charge 25 cents admission price.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
Every morning is a favorite moment. I’m just grateful I get to wake up, live my dreams, and be creative.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Convincing upper level executives with the power to greenlight that our specific South Asian American stories have an audience.
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I make my own homemade pot of chai every morning. Freshly grated ginger is the key ingredient.
Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?
I love Black Girls Code. I have a STEM background and it’s important for Black girls to get excited about STEM at a young age.
Who do you admire?
My mom and dad.
Do you have any mentors?
I’m inspired by the folks who have created their own path like Issa Rae, Matthew Cherry, Justin Chon, and Tracy Oliver.
Did you always want to be in the arts or did you have another path before you got here?
I got my engineering degree but I always wanted to be in the arts.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?
When I was in middle school.
Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between gigs to pay the bills?
After I got laid off from Accenture, I waitressed and hostessed at trendy L.A. restaurants and it was so fun. I always had this idea of being an actor/waiter from shows and movies and my experience lived up to it.
If you come from parents who aren’t in the arts, what parts of them do you see in yourself that have helped you succeed in the business?
My dad’s really organized and punctual and my mom’s boisterous and social. I have a mixture of both that help me navigate the business.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re on the right track.
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
People skills are the most important. Be kind, be a good listener, and be patient.
Where did you study at?
Upright Citizens Brigade. I credit improv for taking my acting and writing to the next levels.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Making the perfect cup of chai.
What do you love most about what you do?
The people I get to create and work with.
What helped you most to rebound from what you considered your biggest failure or mistake in your career?
My next project. Always be working on multiple things so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket.
How do you deal with performance anxiety?
Everyone gets nervous. I use it to my advantage and work it someway into the character. Allow yourself to make mistakes. The mistakes are where magic happens.
Do you have any self care practices you do to stay focused and sane? What was your self care routine before the pandemic and how has that (as well as your views of self care) changed throughout the pandemic?
I always get around 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is very important to me and my top priority.
If you’ve crossed the table from performing to being on a creative team, what made you take the leap, and how did it change your way of thinking?
I wrote, produced, directed and starred in Definition Please because I was constantly auditioning for stereotypical roles. I created the leading role I’ve always dreamed of playing.
Since so many of us spent a lot of time isolated during the pandemic, how has that experience specifically changed your creative or preparation process or your outlook on life?
Writing comedy was my way of getting through the pandemic. It kept me sane.. I got to disappear into hilarious worlds and characters for days and months at a time.
As a storyteller, how do you pick the stories you want to work on and what goes into putting a story together, whether on stage, page, or film?
I don’t pick the stories, the stories pick me. I get excited by new ideas that come to me and I write them down.
How do you deal with writer's block?
Think and do anything else besides writing. Get out in nature, hang out with friends, read a fiction novel that has nothing to do with Hollywood.
Do you have a favorite book/screenplay/script?
I can’t stop thinking about Susan Choi’sTrust Exercise.
When you are creating a story, what is your process for putting a storyline together?
It differs every time. Sometimes I can just write the script, sometimes I make an outline. Sometimes it's a short story or synopsis first.
What inspires you?
Everything inspires me. Songs, moments, books, conversations, long walks.
To find out more aboutSujata Day, please visit her at:
All platforms: @sujataday
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