Amy Maghera is an incredibly talented British actress working for both English and Hindi films. Being active in the movie industry since 2008, her career has been full of achievements and her name is, nowadays, internationally known. Her greatest success has been playing the lead role “Jessica” in the new movie "Skater Girl", which has since been released on Netflix.
The movie narrates the story of Jessica, a London-bred advertising executive, who decided to travel to India to find out more about her father’s past. As soon as she arrives in the rural village, Jessica is surrounded and welcomed by the joyful and sweet local children. As time passes, the character of Jessica becomes increasingly attached to the children, becoming a real point of reference for them. In particular, she will guide and support Prerna, a teenage girl living under many social and ethical pressures. Jessica will introduce skateboarding, and Prerna will fell in love with it immediately. The young girl will be free again, and ready to chase her dreams no matter the rough path ahead of her.
It was a great experience interviewing Amy, and getting to know her and her involvement in the movie. After speaking with Amy, I believe she is a talented actress and a genuine woman who uses her passion for her work to inspire many young girls who are trying to find their way in this world.
If you could use one word or phrase to define the experience of acting in this movie, what would you choose?
When Prerna, the teenage girl passionate about skateboarding, introduces herself in the movie, she says: “My name is Prerna, meaning inspiration”. That always sticks with me when I think about the movie. I have that line many times as well, “Come on miss inspiration, get on the board, you can do it”. My whole experience of getting to know the kids, communicating with them, spending so much time with them, and just seeing how they live their lives- they’re so free, they’re playing, and have no fear.
Everything is encapsulated there for me, in that sentence, in the meaning of her name.
Did this movie teach you anything in particular, perhaps something that resonates with you now or that you weren’t expecting?
It taught me a lot, from working with a team of such strong women like the director, Manjari, and the producer, Vinati. Seeing Manjari, she is the captain of the ship, the one who is the director and has the whole vision and Vinati; that was so inspiring. This is my first film with a female director, and just seeing that was a seed planted in my mind. Working with all these amazingly strong women, in the crew and the cast has reminded me how women need to stick together, support each other and have each others’ backs. Looking at my character, I realized how much Jessica has in common with Prerna, when they need each other, no matter their different background and lifestyle. As much as Prerna inspires Jessica, it also goes the other way.
Considering your character, are there any particular similarities or differences with your character Jessica?
I don’t see the character as being separated from me. It works differently from every project I do; every one of them has been a completely different process to get into the character. For this one, there was a lot of me sitting, watching, observing, getting to know people, and listening to their stories. I was mostly observing the lifestyle of the children and of the village itself. Manjari had told me the story about how they built the skatepark, so that was channeled through my character. I had to understand the challenges they went through and the various political men they had to try to get on their side because if you’re a woman, you need a man on your side. I think there was a lot of me in this character and a lot of my natural relationship with the children, but it’s also fictional. So, it’s a combination of both. I feel that Jessica is a fusion of me, Manjari, and Vinati all together, that’s what I tried to do.
How would you describe the atmosphere on set? What is your best memory with the crew?
There are so many. One that stood out was working with Waheeda Rehman, one of the most influential Indian actresses. She is such a Bollywood icon. I used to live in India, I had an acting course there and we had to study the film “Pyaasa”, which she is in. It was a black and white movie and I remember how captivated I was by her performance. The fact that I had the chance of working with her was a dream come true. Sharing a screen with her and acting with her was amazing.
Also, getting to know all the kids, seeing how much fun they were having with each other, and how much they enjoyed being part of a movie was special. They weren’t serious about the shots or anything but they just lived in the moment. I loved witnessing that and being a part of that.
Since you had to film in a small village, was that a challenge for you? Were there any moments in particular where you felt overwhelmed?
I loved filming in the village, personally, it has been one of my favorite experiences. Seeing the life there and the people, getting to know them, by the end it was like a family. The inhabitants would welcome us, show us around, and I loved the sense of community.
The only challenge happened during the last days of the shooting. We were filming the finale scene in the skatepark, and it was extremely hot due to the sun reflecting on us through the hollows. It was boiling, 45 degrees celsius. I’ve never experienced filming in that harsh climate.
I’d also really love to know how you started your acting career, what inspired you to start acting? Who has been your inspirational source throughout these years?
Throughout my school life, I’ve always been interested in dancing and acting. I was more of a dancer, I used to express myself more with my body. It was through dancing that I got into acting. One of my dance jobs was to be in a body with film. I remember, I went to Bombay and my friend and I was in the back of a Bollywood film. The main actress came out and she was dancing around. One of my friends said to me: “You could do that. You’re a professional dancer, you could do that”. I thought that maybe I could; that was the first time where I even thought about the idea. It is about confidence, and you get more confident as you get older. Sometimes it takes someone to tell you that you could do that thing. That planted a seed inside. It’s taken a lot of years for me to feel confident and call myself an actress, having started as a dancer.
Is there a specific role you aim to portray one day? Why?
I’ve always wanted to play Cleopatra. She is the epitome of a strong female role for me, and that is something I aspire to do. I would love to portray her on stage or film; I would love to get the opportunity to get my hand and try that. Her character means exploring the different sides of being a woman --- it’s jealousy, love, passion, and all the different things she goes through.
Your career has been so successful, and your fans are truly amazed by your talent and your works... Have there been any moments in your career as an actress where you felt lost about the path you were taking?
100%, it happens all the time. There have been ups and downs, times where I wonder whether I’m ever going to work again. Even after finishing one project, I do not have any idea of what is going to happen. One of the hardest times has been when I was doing a TV show in the UK and I was doing it for two years, from Monday to Friday. You get used to it, and you have this routine, and after the two years when I decided to leave, of course, I was excited about the possible future opportunities but it was difficult just chucking myself up again into the world. It’s tough. We are all working so hard, but we don’t know when the next project is going to be. You do it for the love and the creativity, and people you work with.
Do you have any advice you could share with aspiring actresses who are just approaching this industry?
I don’t know. At this time of my life, even I go to people for advice and get inspired by what people say to me. The director Manjari had an interview the other day and I was listening. She was saying how her dad, a massive actor, told her: “Don’t be affected by your success or your failures or if your project doesn’t end well. That should not change how you feel about your job”. I guess that was a piece of really great advice.
I know that this is very cliche, but I think if you want to do something don’t give up on it and keep going, even if other people can’t see your vision. You just have to stay true to what you want to do in your life and just follow it.