Sheetal was featured in the lead story of India Today.

Simply Gujarati

by Anil Mulchandani

The Gujarati community has done it all in the US — from doctors to entrepreneurs, from retail to the hospitality industry.

What is less talked about, however, is their success in show business, be it music, cinema, television or even modelling. We found some such success stories.

Sheetal Sheth

Sheetal Sheth’s father came to the US from Ahmedabad for studies in the 1960s and settled there with his wife.

Says Sheth, “I was born and mostly raised in New Jersey but then moved to Bethlehem. When my siblings and I were kids, our parents took us to India every few years for long summer vacations.”

“We are close to our extended families in Ahmedabad and Mumbai and grew up with Gujarati culture as a predominant influence in our lives.”

“We ate Indian food, spoke Hindi and Gujarati, were quite involved with our local temple and community, went to Bal Vihar (Indian version of the American Sunday school) and always celebrated Indian festivals.”

Sheth discovered her love for acting while still in school. Though she enrolled in Tisch School of Arts at New York University, and graduated as a scholar, her break came with American Born Confused Desi (ABCD).

“I had gone to Aasif Mandvi’s show, Sakina’s Restaurant, and was so blown away by it, I wanted to congratulate him. So I met him after the screening and he told me about this film, ABCD, they had been casting for. I sent my material to them, and a few auditions later, got the part of Nina.”

Much acclaimed for her performance as Nina, Sheth says people often couldn’t separate her from her role as Nina and talked to her as though she was the character in the movie.

Besides acting in five award winning films, Sheth won an award for her performance in Wings of Hope at New York’s Cinevue Festival.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World by Albert Brooks, Trouble, The World Unseen and First Fear are some of the other feathers in her cap.

Not only is Sheth one of the few Indian origin American actors who have broken into mainstream cinema, television and theatre, she is also the brand ambassador of the new Reebok Freestyle New York Shoes that are featured in the ‘Freestyle Cities’ collection, which Indian origin people in the US view as a healthy example of the universal acceptance.

“It’s so nice to see corporates like Reebok seeing the world like this and asking me to represent New York for their campaign. Let’s hope more people adopt the same approach so that the world is a better place to live in.”