Actress Ami Sheth on her new American comedy series, Dietland
“I knew that when I booked this role, it had nothing to do with how I looked”
Actress Ami Sheth hits prime time with the new critically-acclaimed AMC show “Dietland” by Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), which follows Plum Kettle (Joy Nash), a ghostwriter for the editor of one of New York’s biggest fashion magazines who struggles with self-image and eventually discovers Calliope House, where she encounters Sana (Sheth) who becomes an ally and close confidante.
ELLE: How did you hear about the show, and prepare for your role?
Ami Sheth: I learned about it from my agents. The thing is that they didn’t really describe what Sana would look like. At least not to the extent of the facial deformity that the character actually had. I’ve never had to do prosthetics like that before and it was challenging but definitely a fun, different experience for me. I knew that when I booked this role, it had nothing to do with how I looked.
ELLE: Tell us more about the character.
AS: Sana has this horrible story from when she was young where she was a victim of an acid attack, and she now lives in Calliope House, where she helps the other women who have suffered abuse. Sana is strong and unconventionally beautiful. She is a zen and calming force, and is the voice of reason and anti-violence in this series. I haven’t been able to play such a complex character before and this is the first time I’ve been able to evolve as much.
ELLE: How is this show different from what you’ve done before?
AS: Writer’s rooms in television have usually been mostly men, but in the case of “Dietland”, the writers are entirely women, and the directors too. This nuance can be seen in the characters and in the performances — The characters are so strong and flawed, they are layered.
ELLE: Who do you want to work with?
AS: There have been so many people who have inspired me in my career like Aasif Mandvi, Mindy Kaling and Riz Ahmed. I have also had the pleasure of working with director Ritesh Batra at the Sundance Film Lab some years ago and would love to work with him on a movie.
ELLE: What is the worst advice you have received?
AS: I’ve had plenty of people say, “don’t bother, you won’t go anywhere”. People don’t understand that it’s not just a choice, it’s a need. If I wasn’t able to do this, I don’t know who I would be. It’s good not to let other people discourage you.
ELLE: What advice would you have for other aspiring actors?
AS: A lot people thing that acting is really easy, that it’s glamorous and playing pretend. But the best actors are the ones that really do the work, take classes, and explore. They do work in and outside the classroom. It takes a lot of time, and it’s a serious career. It’s like anything else where if you really want to be successful you need to put in the work.