Actor and Theatre of Arts faculty member Roshni Shukla [IMDb] is the Co-Artistic Director of The Southland Company, a Los Angeles non-profit which promotes youth appreciation for storytelling via the “Literacy Through Theater” program. She received her MFA (acting) from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and has studied abroad at the Oxford University Drama Academy and the Suzuki Company of Toga, Japan.
Los Angeles, California
The Bacchae - SITI Company - BAM Harvey (NYC), Getty Villa (Malibu) [Fox9 Interview]
Arranged Marriage - Ryerson Theater (Toronto)
Fox "9-1-1-" - Ananya - [Watch]
TOA: When or how did you first realize you wanted to become an actor?
Roshni Shukla: I'm not sure it was one specific moment but several experiences that made me want to be an actor. I think I was 12 when my curiosity grew. My mom has an encyclopedic mind to classic Bollywood and Hollywood movies. She would force me to sit down and watch movies like Casablanca and Cleopatra with her as a kid. These larger than life epic films. My father has an innate sense of storytelling and you can't escape a meal without hearing of his adventures as an immigrant living in Midland-Odessa, Texas in the 1970s. My parents, combined, I think created the perfect storm to form my curiosity in acting.
TOA: How would you describe the learning environment at TOA compared to other conservatories?
Roshni Shukla: Intimate and focused. Sometimes a student can get lost in a general scene study class without looking at all of the elements necessary to be a storyteller. TOA offers intimate sized classes that examine performance as a whole.
TOA: What's your favorite thing about teaching at TOA?
Roshni Shukla: The students. I am proud of the diversity in our student population which is reflective of the city we are based in, Los Angeles. I learn from the students as much as they learn from being at TOA. They have their hand on the pulse of what matters contemporarily and provide insight to what stories need to be told today.
TOA: How would you describe your overall approach to teaching?
Roshni Shukla: In Voice III we focus on Shakespeare, speaking text that requires a high level of athleticism. Since the material is not of our time my goal in class is to make this type of story accessible and relevant. I approach the voice holistically and practically meaning that it is not just a voice class but an acting class where story is the focus and the entire body is utilized.
TOA: What advice would you give to prospective students considering pursuing their degree at ToA?
Roshni Shukla: No athlete goes on the court or field without having spent a rigorous amount of time in practice. No musician can play a concert without first going through basic scales and spending years in training. Acting is no different. It is a field that requires a high level of skill and an insatiable curiosity for the world we live in.
Thank you Roshni for sharing your continuing journey with us!