August, 2020

Sandy Sidhu: Vancouver’s Rising Star

This Vancouver-based artist plays role of a nurse in the series that honours the life and challenging profession of nurses

Sandy Sidhu is the rising star of film and television industry. She was born and raised along the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia. Both her parents immigrated from Punjab, India. Her mother, Jasvir, is a nurse and her father, Jarnail, was a millwright. Sandy admired her mother’s profession while growing up and valuing it even more when people told her how her mother was helping the community. But since she had a passion for acting, she never thought of becoming a nurse. However, recently she had the opportunity to honour her mother and all those who lead their lives to serving others. She stepped into spotlight in a new TV series Nurses. In an interview with Vancouver Sun, Sandy stated that “I remember getting the audition and not doing very much prep on it because, instantly, it was like a lightning bolt. I saw the scene, but I also saw the iceberg beneath the scene because I was like, ‘Oh, I know her. I know this. I know the story.”

From Entertainment One and ICF Films, Nurses is a 10-episode, one-hour, character-driven medical drama featuring a Canadian ensemble cast — Sidhu, Tiera Skovbye, Natasha Calis, Jordan Johnson-Hinds, and Donald MacLean Jr. — and is shot on location in Toronto. Sandy is playing Nazneen Khan. Nurses follows five young nurses working on the frontlines of a busy downtown Toronto hospital, dedicating their lives to helping others, while struggling to help themselves. The show made its premiere in January on Global.

Her early performing ambitions began at the age 14, landing several leading roles in theatre productions. She spent her adolescence taking singing lessons, drawing, volunteering for charities and after school immersing herself in rehearsals. She went on to train at the notable Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Los Angeles where she continued to hone her craft.

She landed her first role ever as a recurring guest star on SGU STARGATE UNIVERSE (SYFY).  After playing prominent roles in various television series, Sandy’s big break came when she was got the role as Priya on the award-winning hit television series GREY’S ANATOMY (ABC) playing the love interest of Jackson Avery portrayed by Jesse Williams.

Sandy also stars as Meena Roy alongside Jim Sturgess in the new mystery drama series HOME BEFORE DARK about a young girl who moves from Brooklyn to the small lakeside town her father left behind. The show will premiere this 2020 on Apple TV+.

To date, Sandy has amassed a significant body of work in several film and television productions including SUPERNATURAL (THE CW), LEGENDS OF TOMORROW (THE CW), FALLING SKIES (TNT), YOU ME HER (HBO), FROZEN IN LOVE (HALLMARK), MOTIVE (ABC), SHATTERED (GLOBAL/SHOWCASE), STARGATE UNIVERSE (SYFY) and SUPERGIRL (THE CW/CBS).

Outside of acting, Sandy’s other passions include painting, hiking, and reading. Sandy is also a big believer in self-love and is passionate about inspiring others to live their most authentic lives. Understanding the importance of philanthropy, Sandy supports causes close to her heart which include the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the BC Cancer Society and the BC Children’s Hospital.

In an interview with Desi Today, Sandy talks about her life and the series Nurses.

Please tell us something about yourself and your family? If you could share what was it like growing up on Islands? 

My parents immigrated from India to Canada and really fell in love with the West Coast and in particular Vancouver Island, for its natural beauty. I always call myself an island child to other people when they ask where I’m from. There’s a big population of family life in Nanaimo which made it such an amazing place for me to grow up.

When did you discover your passion for acting? How did you start your journey? 
I’ve been an artist since I was three my mom says. She said I grabbed a pencil and her walls were never the same sense. I was big into drawing and even made my own comic books. Drawing was my serenity for a very long time. But then my best friend told me about auditions for musical theatre, and that’s really where the journey began.

Tell us something about your first break in television? 

I would say Grey’s anatomy was a very big break for me. I owe the producers of Grey’s Anatomy a great debt for believing in my work.

How did you get the role in latest series Nurses? 
A lot of people do ask me about my audition with the show. It was one of those auditions where I just knew the character instantly. I understood Nazneen’s story, her situation and her journey on an intuitive level. Luckily, Global and the producers of Nurses agreed and booked me the job. It’s a dream job and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Tell us something about your character as Nazneen? 
Nazneen is wicked smart. She comes from a very wealthy family and moves from India to Canada to reinvent herself and starts her first job ever. And the question is why? Why does she do this? Why does she transplant herself into in an environment where no one knows her and why does she pick the most selfless job in a community that one could ask for? When she comes from so much wealth and privilege? These are the questions of season one and it slowly unravels throughout the season.

You mentioned that your mother was also a nurse. How much has growing up with a nurse at home influenced your current role? 

She was my inspiration for Nazneen. So thanks for the gig, mom! But I would say that Nazneen in personality and background is very different from my mother. They are alike in the way that they are both pioneers, come from India, and both became nurses.

How close is the reel life Nurse’s character to real life nurse? Anything that touched you about a nurse’s life while shooting? 

It’s TV land, so it’s definitely dramatized. What I hope for is that the audience is that they can connect to the ultimate reason why we are making this show, and that is to honour the legacy of nurses. To celebrate the heart and soul of all nurses. That was the motivation for all of us. They honour the fight for life, without a judgement on what they see. And I think that’s why we all love them so much. We couldn’t be a society without our nurses.

Tell us about your experience on set and your other co-stars? 

My co-stars are all so unbelievably talented. Everyone brings something different to the show that is so excitable and dynamic. On top of that, we all are so thankful here. I can’t wait for viewers to witness the incredible chemistry I feel we all have onscreen.

There is a way more visibility of South Asian actors in TV dramas now. What do you think is the reason? 

I think it’s because there are more South Asians within the industry fighting for their voices and their stories and audiences are interested in seeing the representation on screen. There’s a demand. 

Do you think the portrayal of South Asian characters in the North American industry has now changed and evolved of being independent instead of stereo-typed? 

I believe it has. There are more South Asian actresses standing up to share their story. And more minorities behind the scenes writing scripts. I believe a character is a stereotype if it is general, and lacks specificity. I am proud of Nazneen. I believe the show brought an incredibly grounded, authentic, brave and courageous character to the screens. I hope the audiences love our show as much as I do. We all poured our hearts into it. And I love playing Nazneen.

Your message to our readers.
I am so grateful to everyone who’s watched Nurses so far. I believe the goal of any good project is to bring people together. To connect us. To help illuminate the importance of community, connection and self love. That’s what I hope people are able to take away from Nurses. I am also over the moon to have the privilege of representing the South Asian community. It’s everything to me. I never saw examples of myself on TV. And it created a lot of doubt and confusion in me. Now I want to say to everyone “Yes, you can do this. Yes, it’s possible. Yes, pursue your dreams.” So this is highly emotional for me if it has the ability to make an impact, even if for just one person.

Your Favourites

Travel destination: Nafplio, Greece 

City: Christ Church, New Zealand 

Actor: Meryl Streep 

Food: Anything with lots of veggies and tastes, yum!

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