EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Utkarsh Ambudkar

An Amerian actor Utkarsh Ambudkar was born in Baltimore, Maryland, back in 1983. Later he moved to New York, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, originated the role of Aaron Burr in the developmental readings of Hamilton, appeared in TV shows like The Mindy Project, Brockmire, The Muppets, movies such as Pitch Perfect, The Problem 

With Apu, The Barbershop 3, Basmati Blues. And now he’s in New Zealand working on Disney’s Live Action Mulan which is due to be released in 2020.

Even though Utkarsh has a killer acting resume and is best known for the projects mentioned above, he’s a great rapper, too. Ambudkar was not only an original member of The Beatards and performed alongside acts like Azealia Banks, G-Easy, Santigold, joined Lin Manuel Miranda’s improvisational rap group Freestyle Love Supreme but has also recently released his own first single which features Daveed DiggsRafael Casal and touches on growing up brown, the first generation immigrant experience, politics.

Recently, CelebMix had a chance to speak to Utkarsh about his past, music, new single “Vanity” and future plans. Check out the interview below!

“Always finish what you start. No matter what the idea is.” -Utkarsh said.

Your resume is pretty impressive. What’s one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned from your past projects?

Always finish what you start. No matter what the idea is, I have to see it through to the end. Also, I’ve learned not to edit as I go. Execute the original idea as it was received and then edit after. Showing up on time and making an effort to learn everyone’s names doesn’t hurt either.

You’ve recently released your first single called “Vanity”. To the people who haven’t heard it, describe the song in a couple of words.

A lyric-driven song observing an image-obsessed culture.

”Vanity” features Daveed, and Rafael, with production by The Olympicks. Did you enjoy working with them? What was the process like?

Immensely. Rafa and Diggs are two of my closest friends and my two favorite rappers alive, so being able to work with them was a dream come true. The Olympicks are such soulful and cinematic producers. When I hear their compositions I’m able to tap into story and mood so easily. It’s a real pleasure. The entire song took maybe an hour to write and record. We just caught a really good wave and let it ride.

Are there any artists in particular you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

I’d love to work with fellow South-Asian musicians like Anjulie, Raja Kumari and Riz MC. It would also be amazing to do a song with Andre 3000 (fingers xd).

When did you realize you wanted to rap?

It happened naturally. I started freestyling at parties in high school and throughout college, and the next thing I knew I was battling at clubs and touring with a group. Music is my first love and informed all of my early work, especially Pitch Perfect and The Mindy Project, which were both roles that hinged upon my skills as an emcee.

You like to talk about racial inequality, authenticity, stereotypes, etc. What’s one piece of advice would you give to young people who are just starting their career in the entertainment industry and have to face the problem every day? What advice would you give to your younger self?

I wouldn’t say I like to talk about it. But I do feel like it’s my responsibility to do so. What would I say to the younger generation? To my younger self? I’d say – keep going. Make your own work. Support each other. There is enough to go around if we make it so. You are talented, confident and strong. Have patience. Have faith. Don’t you dare give up. There are gifts waiting for you. Just make sure you’re there to receive them.

“What would I say to the younger generation? To my younger self? I’d say – keep going.”

What can your fans expect from you in the future? What are your goals/plans?

The “Vanity” album is coming soon. It features South-Asian artists like Kaly, Heems and Brooklyn Shanti as well as verses from Samora Pinderhughes, Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Dante Basco and Lin-Manuel Miranda. I’m currently in New Zealand working on Disney’s Mulan which will be released in 2020.

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Written by Caroline