Fighting Snakes on a Plane

Acting is one of the finest careers in the world. To become a paid actor is a labour of love, endurance and tenacity–few posses all three. For years, the stereotype of the neophyte actor supporting themselves by working as a server or a barista has endured. Now, that image can be put to rest with the help of University of Calgary alumnus Agam Darshi.

“I was working part-time as a graphic designer,” says Darshi. “About a year and a half ago, after acting for about a year, it started getting a lot busier for me and I was lucky enough to be in a position where I didn’t need to have a secondary job.”

The Vancouver-based actor went west following her U of C graduation in 2002. Utilizing the skills she showcased as a Gauntlet photographer and illustrator, Darshi plied her trade as a graphic designer.

“I did study theatre in university,” she recalls. “But I also studied art and I thought I was going to pursue that, so I was working at a graphic design company. Then I got an interest [from the right people in the industry], and I just started getting a lot more work.”

Darshi’s career continued to blossom with appearances on the Gemini-nominated, FOX’s Tru Calling, Stargate: Atlantis, The L-Word and Final Destination 3. Darshi credits a bit of her success to her experiences appearing on-camera for NUTV.

“It was a step,” Darshi remembers. “It wasn’t something where now that I’ve [appeared on-camera] I definitely felt comfortable. But it was definitely a step, and I think I’ve grown a lot since then.”

Darshi can be seen on YTV’s sci-fi live-action/animated series Zixx: Level Two as the nefarious Jayda. Though Zixx is now only on in re-run form, Darshi speculates that a follow-up to the popular series may be in the works, but may take some time to come to fruition.

“As far I know, it took them a couple years to make Zixx: Level Two,” she explains. “So it wouldn’t surprise me if Level Three takes a few years as well. It was a really fun show. It was a really good group of people to work with, and it was my first time as a villain, so that was a lot of fun.”

Darshi is also prominently featured on the CBC series 49th and Main, which premiered this month. The show chronicles the life of an English doctor who sets up a practice in the titular Vancouver district, renowned for its multicultural composition.

“I play this girl called Rajanpreet Johal,” Darshi says. “She’s this rebellious girl. She wants to play field hockey and is very smart, but she isn’t getting opportunities that she should have because her parents are holding her back. It’s a good role and I really like the arc of the character. She’s a fighter.”

The initial six-episode order for 49th and Main will be completed later this month, and the series may be extended. If the show manages to make it off the bubble, though, it could be renewed for up to four more seasons.

“We’re waiting for CBC to come back to us on that and whether or not it’s going to be extended for more shows,” she reveals. “The rumour mill is that it might go for anywhere from 40 to 80 more episodes.

Whether or not 49th and Main gets a larger order, Darshi will still have her hands full this summer. She appears as an aircraft passenger tormented by snakes alongside Samuel L. Jackson in the summer film Snakes on a Plane, playing a character dubbed iPod Girl. She notes that the hype surrounding the project has caught many of the cast and crew off-guard.

“When we were doing the film, I don’t think anybody realized that it was going to be as big as it was,” she says. “It’s just so ridiculous, the premise of it all, and I think they discovered how ridiculous it was in editing, which is why they went back and added even more blood and guts and gore and snakes and all of that. It’s just gone to such an extreme and people like that.”

With several more upcoming projects–Under the Sycamore Tree with director Shane Dean, the holiday flick All Lit Up alongside Matthew Broderick and her own short film Bollywood Beckons–Darshi is poised for bigger things. Ultimately, Darshi holds that her success will hinge upon one thing: her talent.

“Perhaps I’m just idealistic, but I think that the better you are at your craft, people can’t ignore that,” she says. “Nowadays, more and more, they’re saying that Hollywood’s just picking the pretty people and that’s it, and I think that there’s definitely a bigger emphasis on that now than there was before. But if you’re genuinely good at what you do and constantly trying to push yourself and constantly working at your craft, I don’t think people can ignore that.”

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