Dhruv Uday Singh is an actor, writer, improviser, filmmaker with a strong background in comedy, creating the wordless show The Sound of Silence, and starring several nights a week at UCB in shows like Asian AF, Benetton, Assembly, as the co-host of I’m Too Effing High, and many more. Currently, he can be seen on the Freeform hit series Good Trouble, where he plays Raj, Mariana’s love interest.
I got the chance to talk to Dhruv back in October about how he got into acting originally, the way he relates to Raj, whether or not Raj and Mariana are meant to be and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you got into acting originally.
I had always done acting at a hobby level as a kid; I did a lot of theatre stuff with that. And then when it came time to pick a major at the end of college, acting just didn’t feel like a job. It felt like a crazy weird thing to do with your life so I studied screenwriting. Then, I started doing improv after a bit and that got me back in to the flow of it. It just felt like such a sort of natural fit that I came back to it and went after it pretty hard.
You mentioned that acting at first didn’t really feel like a career, so was there a person or an experience that you would credit with helping you decide that acting is what you wanted to pursue full time?
Yeah, I think was a little bit of a combination of circumstances pushing me that way and a decision in that once I started doing improv, very early on I did this live show and an agent was in the audience and was like “give me a call” and gave me her card. That felt like, “Oh there’s opportunities coming from this that I’m not really trying to get, but maybe that’s sort of the universe if you will leading certain direction.” I think that’s how I saw it.
Let’s talk about Good Trouble, which I truly, truly love.
Ah, thank you so much.
So going back to the beginning, though, what was your audition process like for the show?
It was an interesting audition because it was out in Santa Clarita where Freeform has a studio. I was on the west side of LA so it took me a long time to get there [laughs]. It was the perfect amount of time to get in your head about the audition, which is not ideal. But then when I got there, they were just so warm and welcoming. The director of the pilot was Jon M. Chu, who directed Crazy Rich Asians, and he was in the room as well. This was before that movie would come out and be a huge deal. so I didn’t know his body of work as well and I was a little intimidated. But it was maybe the nicest room I’ve ever auditioned for. And that felt like a great sign, like “Oh the creators are so nice and friendly and warm” that I really wanted the job and luckily, I got it.
Were you a fan of The Fosters before you got the role or at least familiar with The Fosters world?
I was familiar with it, yeah. I hadn’t watched every episode, but I had definitely seen it and really enjoyed it. I think I always really liked that it did this thing, that I think Good Trouble does really well too, in terms of balancing social issues and larger themes with being a fun and sweet show.
I know a lot of actors bring themselves to the characters they play. So in what ways do you think you’re similar to Raj and in what ways do you think you’re different from Raj?
Oh, that’s great question. I think I am similar to him in that we, especially when it comes to dealing with issues at work – like the show deals with sexism and racism and things like that, I think there are some of those experiences that I can bring to it that I find very cathartic to play. I think he’s a nerd, maybe more than I am in my real life, but in some ways not; we just have different areas of interest. He’s a tech and comic book nerd and in the real life, I’m an old movie nerd. I think we’re dissimilar in that he’s a better person in some ways, but in a way that I aspire to be. Over the course of season 1 and 2, he’s learning ways to speak up and be there for people he cares about in ways that make me go, “I should be more like that in my life.” So it’s been sort of inspirational character to play in a way and kind of fun to learn from him.
One of those people that he’s come to care about and speak up for is Mariana. We saw Mariana and Raj have quite a few ups and downs in the first half of season 2. I’m curious, at least from what you can tell me, what can we expect from them in the second half of season 2?
Oh, it’s going to be a steamy ride for sure. There’s going to be some more ups and some more downs. There’s definitely going to be a lot of things that threaten the foundations of all the major relationships on the show. I can’t really go into more details of course, but it’s been really fun to read the scripts for these episodes because myself and my castmates find ourselves gasping at each script like, “Oh, I can’t believe this is going to happen next.” So I’m really excited for people to watch.
Interesting. So kind of going off of that, what’s it like working with Cierra [Ramirez, who plays Mariana] and having her as a scene partner?
It’s really cool. She might be one of the coolest people I know. She’s just so effortlessly confident and a mixture of very professional and very warm and fun to be around. So it’s a lot of fun, especially with the whole changing relationship of Mariana and Raj on the show. It’s really fun to play the levels of that where at first, they literally in the pilot meet each other and it’s not dissimilar to us as actors having to meet each other on the pilot and then slowly as the characters got closer, we’ve gotten to know each other more. So that’s been really fun to do with her in that respect.
Your loyalty to Raj aside as much as possible, do you think that Raj and Mariana are good for each other and that they’re meant to be together?
That’s a really good question. I kind of think yes and no. I think there’s something so sweet about them. They’re both these tech nerds who find each other and kind of help each other grow. But like all relationships, there are flaws and I think a lot of those flaws arise from Raj and his insecurities. So I don’t know. I think if he can change and evolve, then yes. But of course, we’ll see if he can in the second half of season 2.
I know you guys either are still filming or just wrapped up filming the two hour holiday special that we’re getting later this year. I know you can’t share details on the plot but I’m just curious, do we see the storylines from the midseason finale discussed and carry over into this special or is it its own isolated thing?
It is sort of it’s own isolated thing, but of course we do see some of that spill over. But it is very much what a Christmas special would be, where it’s very much about family and about it’s own sort of world and plots so that people can enjoy it even if they haven’t watched the show before.
Got it. And it was announced that the entire Fosters clan is going to be a part of the special. Whether you’re in any scenes with them or not, what was it like having all of them on set together? Especially since they’re the ones who started this whole world.
Yeah, I mean any interactions I’ve had with them is kind of great. There is a legitimate family feel on set because they all worked together for so many years and especially the younger cast members kind of came of age on that show, turning from teenagers into twenty-somethings over the course of five years of that show. So there’s a genuine kind of family feeling and that’s really cool to watch. I would say the same for a lot of the crew who also came up on the show; the whole set feels very warm when they’re around. It’s nice. And I’m just a fan of Teri [Polo] and Sherri [Saum], who play the moms. They’re acting phenoms. They’re on another level that really challenges me to be better. It’s amazing, though, to just watch them work.
That’s awesome. Since Good Trouble is about what it’s like being in your early 20s, having just graduated from college and figuring out adulthood, what is something that you wish you had known in your early 20s?
Oh, that’s a good question. That’s hard. I wish I had known that everyone who’s an adult is doing a little bit of a con job in that everyone, below their skin, is kind of a 19 year old. You know what I mean? Nobody’s got everything all figured out. When you’re that age, and especially coming into the world of work or the larger world, there’s this false notion you have that everyone over the age of 30 or 35 has it all figured out and it’s just not true. Everyone’s kind of faking it and trying to make it work. I wish I’d known that so that you could just be confident in who you are early on.
Yeah, that’s very true. I definitely feel that sometimes. Last question – our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have some kind of inner-nerd so what is something you are currently nerding out about?
I’m nerding out right now on – have you seen the movie, Parasite?
I have not.
I recommend it. It just won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, but it’s showing at theatres now in America, and it’s really incredible. I’m just kind of nerding out on Korean movies because of it. It’s something else.
Good Trouble’s two-hour holiday special airs Monday, December 16 at 9/8c. The show returns for season 2B on Wednesday, January 15 at 10/9c.Make sure you follow Dhruv on Instagram.
Featured Photo Credit: Rowan Daly