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Freida Pinto is a true Hollywood change-maker, paving a more diverse future in film for all.
Today we announce her as Marie Claire UK’s summer cover star, with her digital issue celebrating diversity and calling for further action in Hollywood and beyond.
The Mumbai-born actress, producer and activist, 37, grew up without many South East Asian role models to look up to in the industry – something that Pinto is now determined to change for the young girls following after her.
A big break in Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire shot her to fame in 2008, but despite doors opening, a lack of parts for South East Asian women still saw her pitted against others and forced to compete.
This was the driving force behind Freebird Films Entertainment, Pinto’s very own production company – telling provocative stories, celebrating diversity and uplifting the work of intrepid women.
Its diverse costume drama Mr Malcolm’s List hits screens this month – a highly anticipated project that sees Pinto not only star but executive-produce.
“[I want to tell] stories about courageous, intrepid women all over the world”, Pinto explained in her Marie Claire UK cover interview. “My hope is that the projects I produce, and even act in, contribute in some way, shape or form to changing mindsets.”
The last few years have seen a diversity shift in Hollywood, something that Pinto and her production company have been at the forefront of, but there is still more work to do.
As we launch Freida Pinto’s digital summer cover, we will be shining a light on the changing (and necessary) South Asian representation on screen and diving into the Indian approach to beauty, alongside an empowering in-depth cover interview with Pinto herself.
Here are 6 powerful takeaways from our digital cover interview with Freida Pinto
1. I always felt destined for Hollywood…
“My parents would have been very shocked if I’d woken up one day and said, ‘Hey, I think I’m going to be a doctor.’ What I’ve chosen for my career just feels like an extension of who I always was, and what I was always destined to do.”
2. Slumdog Millionaire gave me unrealistic expectations…
“Slumdog Millionaire was unique, but the aftermath was not very pleasant. It was such a frenzy – it was almost overwhelming, and hard to distinguish between what was real and what wasn’t. My expectation was that every film I did after should do as well as Slumdog Millionaire. But my characters in those films always felt like cardboard cutouts. Now I’ll only do a project if I believe in it strongly.”
3. There was a real lack of South Asian roles in Hollywood for women…
“I had to be ever so grateful that I was even cast in those movies, because where were the South Asian brown girls getting lead roles in commercial hits back in the day? It was a very lonely time. There were so few parts for us that we were made to feel we were competing with each other. Or we just thought that there was only this much for all of us to have.”
4. We are starting to see a diversity shift in Hollywood…
“Now it doesn’t feel so lonely. I’m so happy that the generation of actresses of colour coming up today are not feeling that much anymore. And I hope that Mr. Malcolm’s List will add to the momentum behind fully diverse projects – not just Regency movies, but love stories, action movies, various genres, all getting the diversity that they truly deserve to be seen in.”
5. Bridgerton has paved the way for diverse period dramas…
“I thought, ‘You don’t see brown people falling in love in period movies – what’s the catch?’ I’ve always dreamed of being a part of a project like Mr Malcolm’s List, but I never thought it was actually going to be possible in my lifetime, or even next…. [but then] Bridgerton came along and immediately gave people almost permission to broaden their minds.”
6. I want my production company to create change…
“The name ‘Freebird Films Entertainment’ symbolises the freedom I feel in my heart to go and tell the stories that I really want to tell. Stories about courageous, intrepid women all over the world. My hope is that the projects I produce, and even act in, contribute in some way, shape or form to changing mindsets. We really want our projects to have a deeper meaning; for that to be my legacy.”
Read Freida Pinto’s interview in full at @MarieClaireUK.