British actress working hard for successful acting career in New York City
Anisha Dadia came to New York from the UK two years ago to pursue an acting career. Now, she struggles with her dream, switching back and forth between student film auditioning and babysitting. She has to prove herself good enough to receive an artist visa or she will have to leave the U.S.
Anisha Dadia spends a lot of her time waiting. There is this one kind of waiting, the kind that she hates, when she sits in the great white hall in her student dorm in Upper Manhattan with the fireplace and the windows through which she can see Sakura Park. She would read something, but not really focus on it, because her gaze would repeatedly wander to her cell phone lying on the glass table. The next call could mean she got the job. Or it could mean the directors decided to book another actress for their film.
Acting has always been something she would have liked to do, Anisha said. She just never had the courage to stop her language studies and start something completely new. But then she left the UK two years ago to come to New York, leaving her parents slightly irritated and worried.
Now, Anisha is worried herself. So far, she has failed to get an artist visa that she needs to stay in the U.S. In order to receive that visa, Anisha has to show the U.S. government that she is an extraordinary actress.
To prove this, Anisha runs from audition to audition. A lot of the roles she auditions for are unpaid. To survive, Anisha spends most of her mornings and evenings babysitting.
Anisha said she enjoys babysitting very much, but wants to fully concentrate on her acting career in the US.
She has two months left to collect references and finish her visa application.
Anisha: I’m from the UK. I got a degree…. in languages actually. So then I suddenly uprooted and said: Okay, I’m going to New York to study acting. And I think my parents were like “What are you doing? What are you doing? There is no future in that, there’s no stability in that." No one has really done what I’ve done in my family.
Anisha AX (reading): He had not been married then. Not married, not engaged…
Anisha: Actors can apply for an artist visa. And that means you have to show the US, that you have some kind of extraordinary talent that no American has.
How can you prove that? How can you actually prove that?
Anisha AX: I have to show my ID I guess.
Auditions for Hank, yeah. This.
Security Guard AX: Yeah I know.
Anisha AX: Here’s my ID.
Anisha: It’s not easy. You’ve gonna have to work on it. And you gonna have to really train your voice. You’re gonna have to look maybe a certain way to really get anywhere. And then you realize: Oh my god I don’t look like this. I don’t sound like this. I can’t do this. And you realize you got a lot of limits that you need to get over.
It’s really difficult to even get an audition. Even for a student film.
Anisha AX: This is a perfectly nice place. Let’s just enjoy the meal, okay?
Director Audition AX: ...but you know probably within the next couple of weeks I’ll be doing callbacks for sure.
Anisha AX: Okay.
Anisha: And I was always raised to be like… come from a small town, probably live and raise a family in that small town, whereas I just kind of slammed the door and took off to New York. I want to be self-sufficient enough in my sort of acting career to be able to pursue this… just completely.
Anisha AX: Was it funny or was it weird?
Anisha: Babysitting has its means to an end. I really enjoy it. I really get along with the kids I babysit.
AX Michael: Split.
AX Anisha: Alright, you can have that pile, that’s fine.
AX Michael: Kay.
Anisha: It’s there to sort of help me fund this acting career.
Michael AX: Yeah, it is really junky.
Anisha AX: You tried it?
Anisha: Sometimes, you do of course feel life could be very banal, just kind of monotonous. And then you’re given a role that is really fresh, very unique, something you can really sink teeth into. That will take you away from the every day monotony of your life. But it’s not so much as an escape as it’s an excuse to be as free as you can be.
Behind the scenes:
For the past months, Anisha has mainly been the elevator girl to me, the person you see daily on your way out of the house and you say “hi” or “good morning”, but you don’t really talk to each other. Anisha is living in my dorm, the International House. I first pursued another character for my video profile, an opera singer. After I noticed that the character did not really struggle and it was not possible to shoot him rehearsing, because Opera people are very strict, I canceled him and went home. At the same evening, I recorded a theatre play at my dorm for my Audio Reporting class. Anisha had helped to organize this play. So we both were sitting around during the rehearsal and she was waiting for this important phone call. She had been one of two actresses in New York that were invited for a taping for a big network TV-Show. She was practicing and practicing, because the role she would have to play had an American accent and she really struggled with that (and I could be no help at all). So then I talked to her a bit about her story and she told me how much she would need this role to be able to stay in the country. In the end she didn’t get the role, but I noticed that I got a story.
Anisha’s website: thisisanisha.com/
Anisha playing a Spanish man in a short comedy: youtube.com/watch?v=4UgkoGBSS18
One of the many sites she uses to apply for auditions: backstage.com/bso/index.jsp