I was extremely excited when it came to talking with Manjinder Virk. An award winning actress, director and screen writer, she is a treasured talent in the UK film industry, named as a “star of tomorrow” by Screen International. She discusses her influences, her love for acting and what she is going to be up to this year.
Hey, Manjinder. So, let’s start from the beginning. When you were growing up, what did you initially want to do for a career?
It was either to be an actress or an artist; I knew it would always be something creative.
Yes, you are not only an actress, but you are also a screenwriter. What do you prefer?
Both demand different things from you but are equally rewarding, it depends on the project and who you’re working with. I have worked with some amazing people and they make the projects interesting, challenging and fun. Writing is a much longer process. I think acting is more social, you work with other actors, directors, a crew, whereas writing can be a solitary process – but music is usually my companion then.
You played a suicide bomber in the two part drama, Britz. How did you find the public’s reaction?
It caused a lot of debate. I found people wanted to talk about the issues Britz raised. To me, it was a positive experience because it allowed a platform for much needed discussion on a sensitive subject matter.
Where do you get the inspirations for your writing?
In so many things! It can stem from personal experiences or from reading a news story or watching someone on the street. I am hugely inspired by watching films too. I watched Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction again recently and they are both still as brilliant as the first time I saw them.
How did it feel being nominated for Best Actress and Most Talented Newcomer at the 2010 British Independent Film Awards?
I was really proud to be up against actresses like Carey Mulligan and Sally Hawkins, actresses who I genuinely admire. Awards are great for celebrating the work you do but for me, the real sense of achievement always comes from doing the work.
How do you choose the roles that you do?
I try and choose roles that involve working on interesting stories, subject matters. It can be the story, although it’s often the character, but then it can be just because you want to work with the director/company or on that play.
What genre of acting do you prefer and why?
I love working on screen, but I started out in theatre and I would say theatre is where I really learnt to act.
Being an Asian woman in such a competitive industry, do you have any coping strategies?
I try not to label myself as ‘an Asian woman’ as it can be very limiting to yourself and others. Stories and life experience is universal, regardless of people’s background. I think that’s my coping strategy. I am aware of being pigeon holed so I try to surprise myself and others by setting challenges that exceed mine and others expectations. That doesn’t mean it always happens, but I try!