Your career is going from strength to strength… Can you tell us a little bit more about the route you took to where you are now?
I knew I wanted to be an actor when I saw TV for the first time in my village in Nepal, even though I was oblivious what ‘actor’ meant, I had fund my purpose. I prayed with my grandfather (the village priest) every day to be given the chance to do the magical things the tiny people were doing in that box. Through random unbelievable events, a small girl from the slums moved to eclectic bustling town of Brighton. A hub of creativity, magnificent art and lucky for me, well connected to London. I auditioned for drama school and with a full scholarship I did a three year course in acting and my career began.
Right now Shadow and Bone season 2 has just premiered on Netflix. It’s been received with so much love. There are rumours of a spin off Six of Crows - and if that is green lit it would be another dream come true. I’ve read the scripts, wow it’s brilliant!
Shadow & Bone has become a huge breakout hit, but what is your personal career highlight to date?
A real highlight has been meeting some of my favorite people on screen at events. I was invited to the pre-BAFTA dinner with Chanel and Finch Partners and was surrounded by phenomenal talent, from Austin Butler and Margot Robbie to Michelle Yeoh. Receiving a small bit of advice from Christian Beale that I will never forget. The most important has been the friends I’ve made along the way.
What are your earliest memories and impressions of art?
I think my earliest impression of art was beautiful hand-painted pictures of the many Hindu gods. They’re visually striking. The story of Rama and Sita and all the depictions of Ganesha and Hanuman ji, were my first experience of art, because that’s the only thing people owned in the village. You would see them in people’s houses, in temples, and on sculptures, if you didn’t have paper. I think this is why I have a very specific taste in relation to art, I’ve always been fascinated by colours. If you go to places like Asia, the colours are vibrant, from multi-coloured flowers to glowing sunsets. The deep blue haze of the night sky adorned by shimmering stars and the grand presence of a full moon not dimmed by light pollution. Even the food, there would always be so much colour.
Are there artists from Nepal that you admire?
In terms of Nepalese artists, Krishna Manandhar captures colour so well. There is a beautiful mistiness in his abstract view of the mountain ranges. I love that his artistic expression is enriched by the study of natural forms and rhythms. He even manages to capture the soundscape of village serenity compared to Kathmandu. He conveys the vibrations of transcendental values of Nepalese life, I’m not in touch with that anymore, so when I see that in a painting, it is a beautiful reminder.
A Life Less Ordinary: Amita Suman
Self-expression is key to your craft as an actor. How does this manifest in your daily life?
I don’t think I could do my job if I didn’t have visual stimulation. I take all of it in, and then I express it out in front of the camera or the audience, so it’s an integral part. The artwork the set designers hung on the walls of the Little Palace, such as the painting of the Darkling when he was young, and portraits of the saints and other historic people in the Grishaverse are detailed with meaning. When I’m doing script work, I’m thinking “what’s my objective here, what’s my super objective, what are my intentions?” Sometimes I use symbols and pictures as a visual stimulation, it says so much more than words can, in a smaller sphere of time.
Who is your favourite artist, whether from history or the present day - and what do you take from their work?
My answer to this question changes often. I just visited a museum in Paris and saw works from Odilon Redon. I was completely and utterly transported. I also really liked Paul Gauguin’s work from his early days in Tahiti. It was really beautiful, and actually quite refreshing seeing 19th-century portraits of people who were of a completely different part of the world. It was reviving to see other representations of ethnicity. I relate to him moving to a completely different country and immersing himself and giving himself up to it. We would have a lot to talk about.
You’re fast becoming really well known in the fashion world, and are currently gracing the front cover of Tatler. Are there any favoured designers that you have worked with?
As an actor, fashion is a major for self-expression. It’s really important to wear things that are true to you, but equally exciting to experiment. At photoshoots I’m wearing pieces I wouldn’t wear in daily life. And then capturing that narrative is a great part of my job. I adore Chanel, I’ve been working with the mega house for a while now and they celebrate women in a powerful, delicate, yet strong way and always so classy. I’m completely hypnotised by Schiaparelli, I love how they’re changing the visualization of women’s bodies and the contortions of it. And there is so much story behind each one of his pieces and there’s message behind every look. I’d love to wear anything from them, as well as St Laurent and Dior.
You grew up in Brighton but now live in London. What about these cities inspires you?
I’m lucky that the first place I moved to in the whole of UK was Brighton, renowned for quirky shopping, diverse art and music scene, and the largest LGBTQ+ population in all of Britain.
There is a place for every manner of self-expression. Someone could be walking in Brighton in a chicken suit and you just wouldn’t bat an eye. It’s brilliant.
There’s a place for everyone and the street art in particular in Brighton is random, raw, and funny. The Prince Albert mural covers the whole side of this amazing pub and pays tribute to all the iconic musicians of the 20th century, and of course, there is Banksy who is very famous in Brighton. London is one of the major art metropolises in the world. Whether it’s a memorial, a painting, a statue, or even graffiti or a hidden political message. It’s an integral element of the city’s identity. It’s a hub for the most iconic people in all of history when it comes to art, like Shakespeare, celebrated authors, painters, and musicians.
Do you have a favourite pieces from the sale, and what is it about those work that speaks to you?
I have a few in fact: the Andy warhol is this incredible pop art version of fast food. It's a great symbol of addiction and mass production, that sickly satisfaction from the colours. The Secundino speaks to me because the sense of time feels infinite. The harshness of the lines clashing against the muted patches feels like two higher political powers at war. And the George Condo reminds me how the obscurity of life is something we all experience.