Why You Shouldn’t Believe in Having “Backup Plans”: An Interview With Shruti Sadana
By Yitzi Weiner and Casmin Wisner
“There are no backup plans in life, I don’t believe that. However, I do think you can be smart and strategic. Be open to other paths in the industry because they might open other doors for you in the direction you do want to go.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Shruti Sadana, a New York-based actress, producer, and television host. She played the supporting role in the popular indie film Inflatable K with Yvonne Wandera. She is also a Senior Editor and host for Style Verify Magazine, for which she interviews different celebrities with her unique approach to get them to open up in a profound way.
Youtube video from AOL Build discussing indie film Inflatable K:
Thank you for doing this with us. What is your backstory?
I graduated from SUNY Purchase with a B.A. in Film Studies. Even though I wanted to be an actor, I also wanted to broaden my horizons in the entertainment industry. While still pursuing my acting career, I ended up working behind the scenes on different film projects and doing internships at places like EUE/Screen Gems and volunteering for red carpet events with Gen Art. It taught me a great deal about what this business is really like and it also taught me where my strengths were.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
I was cast in this indie movie called Spoilers, which was a modern day remake of the movie The Breakfast Club. I came upon the casting notice on this website called “Actors Access” and I was just looking through the different regions and ended up looking under Idaho, for whatever reason—I couldn’t tell you why. I sent in my audition through a self-tape and ended up getting three callbacks. The final callback was down to me and another girl. At first, my gut was telling me, “I got this.” The director told me he decided to go with the other girl. I was heartbroken at first, I felt like I was so close! I also had consulted this psychic while auditioning for this film who told me I was going to be getting a film and he told me the EXACT title of the film without knowing it and where it would be shooting. I thought he was also confirming my own intuition until I found out the other girl got it. Well he ended up being right. About two weeks later, I got an email from the director saying “I’m so sorry, I made a mistake. Can you be here in two weeks?” I was so ecstatic! It made me believe that everything happens for a reason and to trust the timing of things in your life.
If there is someone out here who aspires to emulate your career, what would you suggest to them that they do?
I think training is so important. So I would say, start with acting classes and working on your craft. I know this sounds cliche, but it is really true. You will build a set of skills for yourself and then can apply them to a scene you are working on or a project. Continue to do this no matter where you are in your career.
This may not sound like it has anything to do with your career, but based on my own experience, I definitely can say it does. Learn to read people around you and tune into them, because this does apply to your work as an actor when you are doing scenes with people, meeting casting directors, producers, and so on. More importantly, learn to tune in to yourself and your own energy. When you walk into an audition room or any room, your energy and your presence speak before a word comes out of your mouth. I think it is extremely important to be aware of that.
Be confident in who you are and own that. There’s a quote from the movie Hitch, which I absolutely love and that is, “So if you’re shy, be shy. If you’re outgoing, be outgoing. I think confidence is being comfortable in your own skin and celebrating who you are. There is something so beautiful and captivating about people when they are authentic. You just want to be around them more.”
Building relationships is KEY! I remember taking a marketing class and one thing that I remember learning was, “What can I do for the other person?” So before asking for something, ask yourself what you can do for the other person. Also, ask people to meet for a cup of coffee and get to know them as a person first. Wish them a happy birthday on their Facebook wall if you are friends with them on social media. These things may seem small but they do make an impression. I think as human beings we all want to feel like we can connect with each other. So connect with people first in a genuine way and then before you know it you will be working together because you have already built some sort of relationship with them.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Are you working on any meaningful nonprofit projects?
I love to help people in anyway I can. I try to practice this daily in my life.
I am involved the #OwnHero Tour, which was started by Yvonne Wandera and Emeline Rodelas (Floor-RW), two incredibly amazing and inspirational women. #OwnHero is an event-series with a complementing curriculum for both teenagers and young women about female empowerment that teaches what it means to be empowered and how we can practice this daily in our lives. We had our first #OwnHero event last month in Brooklyn, New York, and we are currently preparing to roll out the next events in our tour series.
Another platform I am involved in is Style Verify Magazine, founded by the beautiful and incredible Nicola Styles who started this based on her own struggles and journey. This magazine is hugely targeted towards a female audience. We seek to inspire anyone who comes to read it. We aim for deep conversations with celebrities, entrepreneurs, or whoever it is that is being interviewed. At the end of the day, we all face challenges and insecurities and we want people to know that they are not alone.
Wow! Can you tell me a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
I can say that I have been contacted by different women I know on social media who say that what we are doing is really inspiring to them! I even get messages from women asking me for advice about their own life or their career. It’s truly touching!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why?
- People are going to question you. This is one of the toughest businesses to be in, and people are going to ask you, “What is your backup plan?” I’ve had a few people ask me, “Well what happens if it doesn’t work out? This business is tough.” I have to hold my aggravation back when people ask me this because I can also turn around and say, “Well you have your own business, what’s your backup plan if your place goes bankrupt?” Or, “You’re a teacher, there are so many limited jobs for that, so what’s your backup plan?” Can we just take a second and look at how ridiculous this sounds? There are no backup plans in life, I don’t believe that. However, I do think you can be smart and strategic. Be open to other paths in the industry because they might open other doors for you in the direction you do want to go. Also, I think if people are happily living their life, it’s absolutely no one’s business to tell them how to live it. At the end of the day, people are going to judge you no matter what you do and just be aware of that. As long as you are not hurting anyone, keep doing you and ignore the outside noises!
- People aren’t kidding when they say you are going to be rejected 100x before you hear a “yes”. Understanding that, and having persistence is key. It took me a few years before I landed my first leading role. Your attitude will make all the difference. Eventually, your hard work does pay off.
- You will feel like you have to compare yourself to other people who are at a higher level than you currently are. I have definitely done this A LOT. It doesn’t do any good for me. I try to shift my focus and turn it into a positive thought. Looking up to those people as mentors and thinking instead, “Well, if they can do it, so can I!”
- Timing is everything, and you have to let things go. Stick to your vision and trust the process. Whenever I have tried to force things and push things, it always backfires. When I do the best I can and shift my focus, things suddenly begin flowing. It’s almost like magic! When it rains it pours.
- Find activities or hobbies you like outside of your career. This will bring some balance and ground you. I love going to the gym three to four times a week and taking my favorite class. It always put me in a great mood and I feel good physically after a good workout.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Oh my goodness, I would do anything to have breakfast or lunch with Priyanka Chopra! She is my role model in so many ways. She is such a badass! She’s an actress, producer, activist, an advocate for women’s rights, she travels across the globe and she is unapologetically herself. I would love to pick her brain about everything!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
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If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series in Huffpost, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.