Melanie Chandra is developing TV shows focussed on Indian-American women
Gender inequality in filmdom is a touchy subject. Despite the current state of turmoil that the American film fraternity is in, Melanie Chandra is working towards shifting the paradigm. She has, in the past, eclipsed seemingly insurmountable odds and triumphed.
After graduating from the prestigious Stanford University with a degree in mechanical engineering, this former Miss India America, who had no real Hollywood connections to speak of, chucked her lucrative position as a business analyst for a Fortune 500 company to pursue a career in acting.
Fast forward to the present and now—after portraying fierce, memorable, and well-balanced characters including Fareeda Khan (The Brink, HBO) and Malaya Pineda (Code Black, CBS) on-screen—this 2nd-degree black belt in Shotokan Karate wants to step behind the camera.
“I’m currently developing TV and digital projects for the US market, that puts Indian-American women at the forefront. It’s just the first step,” explains Melanie, adding that she would love to see more women carry an entire film/series while playing a three-dimensional role, and not just the love interest.
Grace and power
But, to shape narratives with ethnically-diverse female characters who are ‘intelligent, beautiful, and flawed’, we need more minorities/women in the writers’ room and beyond—people who’ve experienced things outside of the first world life.
“I gained a better understanding of how difficult life is for the less-fortunate while working with a Jharkhand-based NGO called Jagriti Vihara during college,” shares the Love, Lies and Seeta star, who was born and raised in a humble, conservative Malayali household located in Illinois.
Besides being an advocate for girls’education in India speaking at Commit2Change’s fundraiser gala, Melanie also doubles up as the co-founder of Hospital for Hope.
“Located in a rural village of 1,00,000 (near Ranchi), where malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, and high infant mortality rates prevail, our small hospital treats almost 3,000 people a month,” concludes the 33-year-old actress, who recently announced via Instagram that she’s preparing for the next phase in her life, motherhood.