Don’t call your journey a struggle. If you truly love doing something you’d always look back and see how far you’ve come.
We had the distinct pleasure to interview Kubbra Sait. Kubbra is an Indian actress best known for her performance in the International Emmy’s nominated Sacred Games. She also made her international debut on Apple TV+ original adaptation of Issac Asimov’s sci-fiction series Foundation. Sait is also the author of Open Book — Not quite a memoir. Kubbra Sait, is also known for her skill set as a presenter and live entertainment host for over a decade.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Kubbra! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us your “Origin Story”? Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in a cosmopolitan South Indian city called Bengaluru. I grew up in a protected family and environment, changed several schools due to being bullied for the colour of my eyes and my name. I was called Cobra for years and hated my name for the longest time. It took me several years until I realised the meaning of my name, “The great one” to start living the prophecy. Greatness for me has been living with authenticity and gratitude. It has brought me immense love and opportunities both professionally and personally.
My origin story could go on… but my almost four decades on this planet couldn’t be entirely encapsulated in a paragraph. So I started, failed many times in my work, tried several careers including corporate structures (only to realise I was a misfit and I got immensely bored doing it), until I finally followed my instinct which brought me as an adult to Mumbai, India. Here, I began to pursue a professional career in the entertainment industry which has led me to where I am today.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I felt like a robot. Recurrent dreams which made me feel chained and restrained. I worked as Microsoft and honestly there came a point when I genuinely felt, I was no good for them, and they weren’t adding value to my life. I decided to restart my life in a new city. A city I had never lived in. I had heard Mumbai is the city of dreams, I brought my dreams, some money and perceived talent to begin with. I worked hard, trained hard and took every opportunity that came my way. Fro ad films to blink and miss parts in magnum opus Indian films. Finally many auditions, over almost a decade later, Sacred Games happened… then the proverbial… then the rest followed. I feel awareness while experiencing boredom has been a very important part of my career shifts and journey.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I started my career as an actor working in a big budget Indian film helmed by one of the biggest star male actor of our country. The role I was offered and I couldn’t refuse was that of a maid in the film. It was a blink and miss role. Although I’m still remembered for it, because I wore a saree (an Indian traditional attire) and rode a Hayabusa for that very split second. Everyone told me I was stupid to take up that part and I’d be typecast as a maid for the rest of my career. Clearly I’m the one laughing now.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know if this story is funny… but my greatest mistake as an actor starting out was the bane of overacting. I would say my line and then look away after I said it and let out a sigh! I don’t know if it was the relief of remembering my line or was it just my idea of acting. But I’m grateful to the person who on that set told me that I was doing anything but acting.
I also remember carrying with me, a duffle bag with a formal shirt, a little black dress, an Indian outfit usually a kurta (a shirt like knee length) dress and a casual attire for all my auditions… I didn’t know what I would be required to wear on demand. I carried them all… and through this entire process I never bagged a single part, except for the part of the maid.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve had so many teachers along the way. The simplest interactions have blessed me with the greatest “Aha!“ moments. Someone told me how important it is to have an address on the internet and gifted me my first website domain. Someone told me this is a nasty, ruthless business and nothing about it is art. There were people who told me I had a crooked and big nose. There was a gentleman who met me at a party where you network with people and grab a job, and he actually gave me my first break on television as a host/ anchor. This career is strange, anything can happen any where and learnings are always available only if you are aware you’re learning something or someone along every step of the way.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Oh! Free advice… ha ha! Sure… I’ll shoot away:
1. Please listen to you gut or your instinct. Please please please. The best advice comes from there.
2. Do not listen to others, the most successful people have been unsuccessful at first.
3. Still in doubt? Shut up… and listen to yourself.
What drives you to get up every day and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
I followed my heart to do this. I love everything and everyday at work, even the days when it’s hard. I love it so much I look forward to being at work. Maybe that’s why it’s fair to say I am following my passion till I find my purpose.
It would be good if we stop thinking inclusivity and diversity is our way of giving back to the society. No it isn’t. It’s our responsibility to tell stories authentically and THAT is IT. We aren’t doing favours to no one. We are just doing our job. I wish we all can just do our jobs well.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I’m headed towards a career than I can look back on and say I tried each day and I grew each day, both as an artist and as a human.
I’m excited to work with really interesting teams and minds and storytellers of our generation. I see how the canvas of our stories are changing, this is a world wide phenomenon. I’m excited about the roles I’m essaying across platforms as an actor. I’m smiling inside out. It’s actually a wonderful time to be a performer now. We have so many fractured societies and stories come from brokenness. Celebration comes once we’ve tasted failures.
As you know, the Foundation series is one of the most popular sci fi stories of all time. In your opinion, what was it that really captured people’s attention about the series?
The fact that people had been waiting to see this show made for decades now is in itself a win. The scale, scope, cast and crew that came across the globe to collaborate on this magnum opus was another win. The season being renewed for a season 2, is exciting. I’m looking forward to 2023, I just heard season 2 of Foundation wrapped as I reply to this interview. PS: The graphics and sets of Foundation are OUT OF THIS WORLD. Please watch the show if you haven’t already.
What lessons do you think our society today can take from Foundation ?
The future is happening as we are living in the present. Don’t be surprised when it happens, we created the outcome by our actions in the now. Robots have feelings, we made them. No character on Foundation is white or black… in fact like everyone you see on screen, life is gray.
This is our signature question that we ask in nearly all of our interviews. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
1. Don’t compete. Work on your strengths and be aware of weaknesses.
2. Don’t call your journey a struggle. If you truly love doing something you’d always look back and see how far you’ve come.
3. Be authentic. Have your own unique voice. Don’t be an imitation.
4. Be patient. All good things happen is good time.
5. Be kind.
Can you share with our readers any selfcare routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
Gratitude tops my list. I have a gratitude jar. I write a chit and drop it into the jar, like a piggy bank. Recognising the small wins has a compound effect on your mental state of mind. On days you feel you’re behind, pick a chit, you’ll see how far you’ve come.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
The mental health drive. In the modern world, we humans are becoming increasingly fragile. There are mounting expectations and access to unlimited opinions. One can heal and build a consistent mental health practices with professional help. It’s important to make this a wide spread conversation so it isn’t considered a taboo.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I’ve asked the universe for a meal with Ellen Degenres.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
@kubbrasait on all social media handles
Thank you for these amazing insights and stories, Kubbra