Anand Desai-Barochia @ananddb
Photography by Heather Koepp
Grooming by Anessa London @artistrybylondon
Styled by Cassy Meier
Interview by Ashira Provost @_ashiraprovost
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I grew up in the North East of England. By the really mature age of 16, I moved to London on my own to study theatre in the Capital. That being said, my theatre school was full of international students all of a similar age. Anyone who wasn’t from London lived in the YMCA opposite our school. I would like to apologize to anyone else living in the building at this time. Hundreds of 16 year olds. Living in the city. Alone with no parents. All musical theatre students. All singing show tunes. Imagine the cast of Annie going to Fame? Living in the house of The Village People. That was us. At the tail end of puberty.
By the time I was 21, I was ready for something new. Because you know, I’d lived so much life already. I headed to Los Angeles to study for two semesters at Strasberg. 8 years of Taco Bell later, I’m still here.
What originally inspired you to take on an acting career?
I first caught the acting bug when I was ten years old when my school teacher gave me the lead role in our graduating play. It was a mix between Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein and The Rocky horror show. I was a fairly large child, some would say morbidly obese - but who's putting children in boxes...
I looked in the mirror, saw the fat Phantom and it was love at first sight.
What are you proud of?
My family. My mother was a neuroradiologist and my father in the hotel industry. My brother is a philanthropist and humanitarian and I.. I’m the creative lost cause.
Who are some of your biggest influences? Do you have anyone you admire and would love to work with in the future?
Some contemporary young actors with career’s I look up to are Eddie Redmayne, Rami Malek and Riz Ahmed. The dedication to their craft is something I greatly admire. In terms of directors and producers, the work Ryan Murphy creates on American Crime Story and American Horror Story is superb. It would be a complete dream of mine to work with Ryan and subsequently the recurring cast he so often uses. Sterling Brown, Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange, to me, are human masterclasses in acting. If we are talking dreams, that means we can discuss folks who have also passed. I would have loved to have worked with Robin Williams.
What were some of the biggest struggles you had to face to get to where you are today?
Without a doubt, the biggest challenge/setback has been still trying to figure out who I am and what my place is in this world. If you don’t know yourself, how can you play different versions of them? Thankfully, the older I get, I’m starting to get a much better grasp of it all.
Social media is something I struggle with a fair amount. I’ve had plenty of discussions about social media and its effects on the human mind with my castmates, Immy Waterhouse and Robyn Malcom. Thankfully, I have yet to be subject to criticism via social media - I do however wish, I grew up in an era without it. 20+ years ago, everyone was on the same playing field. Nobody had social media. Today, we live in a digital world and so as a young actor in the entertainment field, whether we like it or not, one is at an automatic disadvantage if one does not have some kind of social media presence. Let me be clear, I am not for one second saying if you don’t have an online social media presence, your worth is any less. The contrary. You are just not on an equal and fair playing field as the rest of your peers. Hollywood is fickle.
I was speaking with Cesar Rocha at CBS about this very topic just a few days ago. We came to the conclusion that should an artist’s social media presence rise because of the work they are doing, great. What we need to be careful of flipping that sentence over: Giving somebody work BECAUSE of their social media presence. That is when we as a society start to enter a downhlil slope with the quality and standard of work being produced.
If I could give my younger self (say 10 years ago) any piece of advice, it would be:
Don’t give yourself acting deadlines. By this age, you want to book this, otherwise its all over. Stop being so dramatic. If acting is genuinely something you can’t see yourself doing anything else but, a deadline will never stop you should you not achieve it. It will only get you upset. And then you carry on acting. There is no age limit to our job, stop trying to create one.
Janzo is an oddball and interesting character on The Outpost. Do you think there is a misconception about your character? How do you relate to your character Janzo in real life?
To me, Janzo is incredibly loyal, more so than he needs to be in some relationships but I will say - I do enjoy playing the dry sense of humour he seems to have acquired - Janzo is a cool cat in my eyes. He has the brain power, but also the wit and vocabulary to take on those whom he cares not entertain. It must be his European side creeping through… ;)
The Outpost has grown into a bigger beast than any of us on the project could have ever hoped for. For such a large audience to see our baby is definitely humbling - to be airing in over 10 countries worldwide was a cherry on top of the work that we have created. It’s well documented I wasn’t originally meant to read for the role of Janzo. When I was reading the pilot, I instantly fell in love with him. Barbara Stordhal and Angela Terry, our casting directors agreed to let me read for Janzo instead of Garret, and the rest is history. If I had such a strong connection to him just from reading his few lines in the pilot, I knew it could really turn into something fruitful.
Tell us something about you that not many people know? Or might find surprising?
My first audition in LA was for a Nerf commercial. Being British, I didn’t know what a Nerf even was so I asked my friend. His response, “It’s a tarty, yummy little candy treat.” He read Nerd, not Nerf…
I walked into the room and there was an obstacle course laid out. “Hmm…creatively odd!” I said to myself.
“OK. So you have your Nerf in your hand. And you’re going to go through this obstacle course and people are shooting you”.
Got it. I’m eating my yummy tasty candy tart from my hand. Running through the course. Climbing boxes. Dodging bullets.
“What are you doing? Why are you eating?”
“I’m eating my Nerf”
“Thank you, Anand. It was really nice to meet you.”
I never got a callback for that one.
What new projects are you working on?
I’m currently on a flight to London for the holidays. The Outpost Season Two starts up in less than a month!