(Editor’s Note: This interview with actress Agam Darshi, was conducted back in October 2011 by Tom Heckbert for the now-defunct website Eyestrane.com. It’s been republished at Idol Features courtesy of Tom.)
Agam Darshi is a sought after Canadian actress based in Los Angeles and Vancouver. She is currently working as a series lead on the show Sanctuary, on the Syfy Channel, where she plays the tough-as-nails Kate Freelander, for which she has been nominated for two Constellation Awards. Agam was also a series lead in season one of Dan for Mayor on CTV, for which she earned a Canadian Comedy Award nomination for best ensemble. She played Aparna in the mega blockbuster hit 2012, and Saphira in the Canadian indie Excited, for which she is nominated for a Leo award for Best Supporting Actress.
Most recently, Agam completed a lead in the “Untitled Michael Sardo Project,” alongside Carrie-Anne Moss (Matrix), which was directed by Emmy winner Timothy Busfield. Her other works include a recurring role on The L Word (Showtime), a lead in Haunting on Sorority Row, alongside Gossip Girls Leighton Meester, as well as roles in Snakes on a Plane and Final Destination 2.
Agam was born in England and raised all over Canada; Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, and finally settled in Vancouver. She received a BFA in visual arts with a focus in photography and minor in theater from the University of Calgary. She then went on to complete an intensive Studio 58 film arts program at Langara College, with a focus on screenwriting, and has been writing and producing films ever since.
Apart from acting and filmmaking, Agam is an avid traveler. She is a vegetarian and in 2010 was chosen to be a champion for WeCanada, an environmental organization. In 2008, Agam co-founded VISAFF (the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival), which was the first of its kind in Western Canada. Agam was also featured in Anokhi Magazine’s “Sexy & Successful List” for 2008, and was chosen as one of TV Week’s “Top 10 Most Beautiful People in BC” in 2010. Above photo by Bryan Nykon.
AGAM DARSHI: I always loved acting. It’s been a dream and passion of mine since I was a kid and I would direct my cousins and we’d put on performances in front of our families. I minored in theater at the University of Calgary. I never thought I’d act as a profession. I thought I’d be a photographer, but I always thought I’d do a bit of theater and performance art on the side. I moved to Vancouver and took a teacher’s advice who told me to get an agent, which I did. My very first audition was for RenegadePress.com and I was booked for it. I was flown to Regina, Saskatchewan for three weeks. I was thrilled because I had never been there before. Four months later, I was flown to LA to screen test for an ABC TV show. It was down to me and another girl, who ended up getting it, but it felt like it was a sign that I was meant to do this. Things happened fast and it snowballed from there.
EYESTRANE: You grew up in the UK, then moved to Canada and now reside in Los Angeles. How do you like it in LA so far?
AGAM: I was born in England and grew up in Canada. We moved to Montreal when I was three. I like LA. I’m still going back and forth between LA and Vancouver. They are such different cities and challenge and comfort me in different ways. I feel so lucky that I have the opportunity to live in both places. LA is exciting and scary. It’s fast paced. It’s inspiring. People work really hard here, and I appreciate that but I do miss the quiet moodiness of Vancouver sometimes.
AGAM: I have: Sanctuary, Stargate Universe, Stargate, Kyle XY, and Supernatural. There is a lot of sci-fi that gets filmed in Vancouver. I think because of the “moodiness” of the city. It rains a lot and has an interesting ambience for sci-fi shows and films. What I like about sci-fi is that “anything is possible.” Anything. Within the context and world of the show so casting is sometimes more out of the box, which is great. Also, the stories are out of the box. It’s fun to watch and to get invested in the characters and their arcs.
EYESTRANE: You are also a writer, I understand, and have written a number of shorts and are working on a feature. Can you tell us how it is progressing and a little about it?
AGAM: Mmm …no I can’t! (laughs). For me, my process, whether it’s writing or painting or acting, it’s so personal. It’s not until I am ready to go into production or put on an exhibit that I feel I should talk about it. Before then, it’s just me being an artist without judgment of what I’m working on. As soon as you speak about your projects, it adds expectations and I think the process of art should be without expectation so that you can allow yourself to fail. That’s when the most wonderful discoveries are made.
EYESTRANE: I understand that you will be attending Con*Cept in Montreal, Armageddon Expo in Melbourne, and London MGM Expo back to back. Quite an ambitious travel schedule.
EYESTRANE: Do you enjoy the travel and making appearances?
AGAM: Yes, I am a HUGE traveler. I’ve been to all those places before and I’m so excited that I get to go there again. Hopefully though, I won’t be too jet lagged.
EYESTRANE: With all the traveling you do, what do you do to take care of your health?
AGAM: Not sure yet! It’s really important to drink tons of water on planes and NO caffeine. I also never travel without my own neck pillow. Carry vitamin C with me at all times and my special weapon is apple cider vinegar. It kills ALL germs. A tablespoon in hot water in the morning and before bed, and you’re golden.
EYESTRANE: You just completed a feature, The Crimes of Mike Beckett. Can you tell us a little about your role in that?
EYESTRANE: I have to ask you about 2012. It was such a huge special effect movie. What do you think of the process and did you find acting in such a huge movie difficult?
AGAM: It was enormous. The tsunami scene was so grandiose, both in the process of making the film and the end result. They literally built a mountain top in a giant soundstage that we had climbed. It was really fun to make. I don’t mind green screen work at all. We do a lot of it on Sanctuary. It’s fun. It makes me feel like a kid again where all I have is my imagination and I just have to react.
EYESTRANE: I think fans know you best as Kate Freelander from Sanctuary. How do you like the role and do you think there is any similarity between you and Kate?
AGAM: I like to call Kate my “alter ego.” She is not like me and very much who I wish to be at times. She’s tough. Sarcastic. Says what she thinks and doesn’t care what others think of her. I wish I was like that! I’m far more sensitive and girly than she is but I take solace in knowing that I’m probably closer to her than I think, since she lives somewhere in me.
AGAM: I’ve been incredibly lucky. I haven’t. Sure, I’ve played the typical Indian girl roles here and there and they’ve been fun but there has been one or two times where I got close, but ultimately was NOT cast because I of my ethnicity. I’m sure that happens to blondes or brunettes too. For the most part, I never have really felt that being South Asian was a challenge. I’ve never seen myself as a “minority” and I think that comes across.
EYESTRANE: What is next for you? Where do you see yourself in five years?
AGAM: Gee, I can’t even figure out where I’m going to be in December! I’d like to see what LA holds for me. Maybe it’s a place for me, maybe not. Perhaps I’ll stay and keep working as an actor. I’d like to take a leap and try directing one day …or maybe I’ll go back to Vancouver and get my masters in theater. Or maybe I’ll get into holistic medicine. Who knows? Seriously, my life is THAT unsure. But I think I thrive when it’s like this.
EYESTRANE: Any advice for young actors who may want to follow in your footsteps?
AGAM: It’s important to listen to your heart and do what you love. Ask yourself why you’re doing it. Fame and fortune, as wonderful as it is, is a bi-product of loving the process. If you truly love to act or make films, you will find ways to do it – even if the world says you can’t. If you make your own films or write your own shows, eventually the world gets tired and says, “Fine, I guess you can.”
From an episode of Sanctuuary entitled; “Hero II: Broken Arrow”