“A lot of artists, including myself, go into acting to feel shiny,” Sex Lives of College Girls star Amrit Kaur tells Teen Vogue. She sits in our offices at 1 World Trade Center, dressed down in sweats, no makeup. “I went into acting to be the most beautiful girl because I didn't feel pretty. I wanted to be on the cover of magazines and be like, ‘Someone like me is beautiful, 'cause I'm an atypical beauty.’ What I realized is no amount of success is going to heal my pain.”
The actor is meditative, with a newfound feeling of clarity for her place in the world, talking as though she’s just returned from an immersive semester abroad. In a sense, she has: While Bela Malhotra was wreaking havoc on season two of Sex Lives of College Girls last fall, Amrit Kaur was in Karachi, Pakistan, filling herself with feelings of purpose and duty as she filmed the independent movie whose working title is Me, My Mom, & Sharmila. “I loved it,” she says, explaining that the experience gave her a space to ground her energy, to be on the receiving end of generosity, sharing on a fundamental level.
“It was beautiful, being in my trailer while everybody outside was busting Punjabi beats, Bollywood beats,” she recalls. Kaur, 29, who is Punjabi, asked everyone who wanted to speak to her in Punjabi to do so in Urdu because she wanted to practice. Between filming scenes, she immersed herself in language study and spent her weekend nights on Zoom, training in her acting classes for hours. “Now I'm back, and my Urdu is mixed with my Hindi, mixed with my Punjabi and English.”
At the end of filming, Kaur made a pilgrimage to Sikh heritage sites in Punjab, Pakistan. While there, she met with a priest to create order of the threads in her life. “[We talked about] what my purpose is, why I'm an artist, and how to advance and enhance South Asian girls, which is part of my mandate,” she says. “I'm not someone who will do things just because they're popular. I had a lot of scripts and auditions come, but that script [Me, My Mom, & Sharmila] scared me. The film was literally about my mandate — to do art that will teach girls, particularly South Asian girls, that they don't have to live a life of oppression.”