Interview: Filmmaker Sriya Sarkar
Diversity in the Entertainment Industry
BanterGirl Catches up with the brilliantly talented Sriya Sarkar to talk about her life in the entertainment industry, important things she’s learned along the way, working with Hillary Clinton, and what the future holds for her!
How did you find yourself pursuing a career in the entertainment industry?
I'd been involved in media production all through middle and high school. I was on my school TV station crew and video was my go-to creative medium for any school project. Film school seemed like a natural extension of pursuing that direction in higher education. So I went to NYU Tisch and very quickly learned that filmmaking was not a solo venture in the least bit. But that's also what I learned to love about it.
What is a major lesson that you've learned while working in this industry?
I learned that a career in entertainment means 1) you are constantly learning, and 2) you are constantly fucking up. I think I'm good at what I do. But I still make mistakes. The key, I think, is to never feel like you've achieved the peak of expertise. Any kind of content creation in the digital age means you are inevitably going to be working in situations and within constraints that are new and unfamiliar. And if you're not, then really what's the point? There's nothing new about your work then. Like any relationship, I think a creative career in the industry thrives on spontaneity and the unknown.
What are two changes that you'd like to see happen within entertainment during your lifetime?
I'd love to see women in particular give less of a shit about how they physically look in entertainment. We're seeing more of a move towards body acceptance and natural beauty positivity, but I look forward to the day when everyone shows up to the Oscars in sweatpants with bed head. In all sincerity, though, I'd love to see at least one all woman or all minority group production of something that makes no mention of its gender and color dynamics.
If you could model your career after another woman who would it be, and why?
Oh wow. There's quite a few to choose from, which is always a good sign! I think it would be a mix of Mindy Kaling and Samantha Bee because both worked hard to cultivate their voice. And when they finally reached a point where they could command their own presence, they used it to great effect.
What projects are you working on now?
I'm currently the deputy digital content director in North Carolina for the Hillary Clinton campaign. I'm in charge of developing and producing all of our original content and overseeing our social media presence. North Carolina is a critical battleground state so the pressure is definitely on to make sure our digital presence is entertaining enough to build an audience and also persuasive enough to encourage people to vote.
It's the mix between entertainment, digital media, and higher purpose that I've been looking for since graduating from film school.
What mark do you want to make within this industry?
I honestly don't know. I'm still figuring out what I'm doing in life, both personally and career-wise (which is a fancy way of saying I'm going through a quarter-life crisis which, yes, is a real thing). I want to do good work and cultivate my voice. I want to do work that has a greater social purpose but is also funny and makes use of digital trends. I want to be a Renaissance woman but also pay off my student debt. In my quest to try and learn everything, I might not move up as fast as others. And maybe that itself will be my mark.
That or I'll get really friggin famous after some kind of viral video and I'll be able to retire at an early age to live somewhere not threatened by rising sea levels.