This blog post is dedicated to featuring actors of color who are just amazing actors.
...because we don't get enough credit ya'll.
I was surfing channels on tv one day and stumbled on the movie The Hundred Foot Journey. Which I've seen before, but for some reason it takes seeing a movie twice to appreciate good acting. Or maybe the cast was just so good that I forgot they were acting.
First of all - spot on casting by Lucy Bevan, ironically also casting for Ghost in the Shell (whitewashing of a Japanese mangga character).
Going back to Hundred Foot, all the actors were superb, three-dimensional, and complex. I mean Hellen Mirren, duh; Om Puri, as the father, played his role with such dignity and intense need; Charlotte Le Bon, my girl crush, was feminine yet brutal in the kitchen; the brothers and sisters of Hassan (Manish's role) made for a tight ensemble.
But really the break out role of this film goes to Manish Dayal. He went from a young immigrant from India trying to survive - to a culinary prince of Europe. He played Hassan with such vulnerability and softness, yet with moments of decisiveness when it came to his culinary skills. His character knew he was talented enough to match Michelin restaurant standards, but he wasn't forcefully pushing his way to get in. Humble confidence - which is so rare to see an actor play. Usually it's at either ends of the spectrum. You can tell good acting by the complexity of their portrayal. He did his homework, connected to it on a personal level, and was living moment-to-moment.
And I mean the romantic chemistry with Charlotte Le Bon's character got me soooo KILIG* (see bottom for definition). It was subtle yet palpable, restrained yet magnetic. IT WAS EVERYTHING. And the credit goes to good acting - a strong rapport with your scene partner; being connected and generous to each other.
Sidebar: What does generous mean in acting terms?
You know when you're acting and your scene partner isn't actually seeing you? He/she is physically talking to you but you don't really feel like they are actually addressing you? Like there's a fog over there eyes?
That is the opposite of being generous. That actor is focused on their own performance and making sure they are 'acting well'. A generous actor is focused on YOU - the scene partner. They are present with strong needs and intentions, living in the moment with YOU. That is how Manish and Charlotte were. Present and generous with each other that actual chemistry was evident.
Ethnically specific roles give us actors of color a chance to break into the industry. Hopefully it'll also be an opportunity for actors like Manish to break into roles where their ethnicity is not the reason why they were cast...
but because they were good.
...and he's not that bad to look at amiright?
*KILIG - In the context of Philippine culture, the Tagalog word kilig refers to the feeling of excitement due to various romantic situations such as making first eye contact with one's crush or watching another person propose to someone. There is no exact equivalent English term for kilig. (Wikipedia)