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The Maulik Pancholy Interview

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"I Think Selling Pot Becomes a Way For Him to Have Something to Do"
MB: Do you ever feel a responsibility to be a role model or to, like, wave the banner for your people? MP: For me, I feel that responsibility in regard to cultural perceptions. For example, in this Law and Order: Criminal Intent that I did, I played this Pakistani kid whose sister wanted to marry an Italian guy, and I basically performed an honor killing and killed my sister. I feel like that's a really complicated issue. And in a culture where Pakistanis and Muslims are already fighting to be looked at truthfully rather than be stereotyped as terrorists, I thought about that a lot, especially since I'm not Pakistani or Muslim. And in the end, that one was based on a true story. And the kid had parents who didn't believe what he did was right, so I felt like [the episode] was doing its best to show something balanced. It's important for me to try to be aware of that because it's part of who I am. MB: Have you played a role that you thought wasn't balanced? MP: When I first started out, I played a character on a Saturday morning television show that wore a turban and was feeding his roommate fried pieces of camel. The whole joke was his culture. That was really hard, but it was my first television job, and I needed somewhere to start from. Would I be okay with that now? I don't think so. MB: That article I mentioned before said you're in a kind of trifecta with Naveen Andrews and Sendhil Ramamurthy. Is that something you think about? MP: I'm somewhat cognizant of it. I think the community is growing exponentially. I think there's a healthy sense of competition, but people are also really supportive. I get emails about auditions from people, like, "Did you hear about this?" And it's great, because as it continues to grow, it forces you to be on your game more and not just assume that because you're Indian you're going to get to play the next Indian part. MB: That sounds nice. Like having a sort of family in the big, scary world of acting. MP: It depends on the type of community you create for yourself. Because there are certainly competitive, cutthroat actors out there. MB: Can you name six of them? And then say nasty things about them?

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