Roni Akurati is an up and coming actor who has already been busy in his professional life. Roni can be seen in reoccurring roles in the TV series “Another Period” and “Palo Alto”. He has also had guest-starring roles in “Henry Danger”, “Other Space” and “Deadtime Stories”.
His most recent role has been that of Smith Bhatnagar in the movie “Growing Up Smith”. This indie movie has won several awards during its film festival run in 2015 and will be released this fall. Roni recently won Young achievement award for his acting by Indian community associations “American Telugu Association” in Chicago at a convention that had more than 10,000 attendees. He has also been recognized by “American Telangana Association” in Detroit.
TNWU had a chance to talk to Roni and his parents recently to see how he’s doing and what is on tap for his future.
I understand that you’ve been pursuing your career for some time now. When did you first realize that you wanted to become an entertainer?
Roni: I first realized that I wanted to become an entertainer when I started acting in the play A Christmas Carol in 2011. It was so fun that I couldn’t wait for my next opportunity to act.
Parents: As parents, we saw him first dancing, just by watching videos, then his mom took him around for some auditions and people who saw him liked him and that gave encouragement. Certainly, A Christmas Carol gave him and all of us a big boost as he was recognized by all the Chicago media, that inspired us to pursue an acting career and his mom found a top agent and manager in Hollywood where he landed a couple of TV series quickly in 2012. This prompted us to move to LA in 2013, but we came back for a year to do the Disney’s Jungle Book play where Roni played Mowgli, since then Roni has been staying in LA. His role on Comedy Central with Ben Stiller for “Another Period” and his independent feature film “Growing Up Smith” certainly gave us the hope that he could have his career be in the entertainment industry.
What kind of reaction did you get from your parents? Did you need to convince them to let you give it a shot? What do they say now?
Roni: My parents were always very supportive of me. All they needed to know was if I really wanted to do it. My parents are still supportive of my acting career.
Parents: A lot of motivation for Roni is his mom. She never stopped making calls and finding opportunities for him. All the ground work was and is done by his mom. As parents, it is not that easy to support a career in the entertainment industry which requires a lot of time, money and patience. We were initially worried about how Roni would take all the rejections in auditions etc. But Roni’s interest and his self-motivation helped us to support him. We always want to make sure he is still pursuing an education while continuing to pursue his career and we evaluate the decision to continue his career frequently.
You’ve had quite a few roles since you started working, including a reoccurring role on the TV show Palo Alto… which job has been your favorite?
Roni: My favorite job would definitely have to be the film “Growing Up Smith”. The filming period was about five weeks and it was the most fun I’ve ever had. I was there every day doing what I love.
You also do stand-up comedy (see YouTube link at the end of the interview), how did that come about? Stand-up is pretty tough, even seasoned actors have some trouble with the format and the heckling. How do you deal with hecklers and a ‘dead room’?
Roni: (laughs) I had no idea what stand-up was when I started, it was just something new that I decided to take classes on. Taking classes on stand-up and formatting really helped. When I’m faced with a ‘dead room’ there really isn’t much I can do about. I just go about my routine and hope the following jokes click better than the previous ones.
Parents: Standup comedy is one thing we never thought he could do, but his mom wants to give it a try and Roni was able to write a lot of content and some of the top coaches he went to in Hollywood are surprised, about how much he can write and encouraged him.
Do you write your own material? What inspires your comedy?
Roni: I do write my own material in stand-up. The formatting I may occasionally get help on, but the ideas are all from my life, which is where I draw inspiration from.
If you had to choose right now between stand-up comedy and acting, which would you choose? Why?
Roni: I would choose acting, without a doubt. Although stand-up is fun, acting is my passion. There is just something about acting that makes me feel amazing.
If you could choose, what character would you like to play next?
Roni: I don’t know if there is a specific character I’d like to play. I’m really open to tackling any character.
That’s a great answer – I think that just about every serious actor thinks that same thing! What advice do you have for other young people who are considering a career in Hollywood?
Roni: If you’re serious never give up. As long as you keep working hard and improving your skills you should be able to succeed.
Parents: Kids should believe in themselves and do the best every time they are in front of someone, you never know what the right time is and who is the right person you are auditioning for. Kids should be prepared to accept rejections and be patient. Most of all they need parents’ support without which it is very difficult to pursue the career. Parents need to be prepared to give up their time, money and be patient as you cannot expect quick returns.
You can keep up with Roni and his projects at the following sites: