Lady luck helped the actor and writer, Nick Dodani, known for ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ and ‘Atypical,’ break into Hollywood. But he’s not leaving the rest up to chance.
Lanky, queer, and Brown haven’t historically speaking, been top of Hollywood’s casting criteria.
But the soft-spoken, bespeckled 28-year-old tries to bring these elements into his performances when they’re relevant.
“I approach characters from the outside in,” he said. “I like to think about what they wear, how do they wear their hair, what accessories are they wearing, how do they physically fill a space. You can learn so much about a character’s inner life by how they present.”
He recently wrapped filming on The Parenting, a horror-comedy where he stars, opposite Brandon Flynn, as part of a couple who invite their respective parents (Parker Posey, Brian Cox, Edie Falco, and Lisa Kudrow) to spend a weekend in the woods.
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Dodani’s character, who is adopted, was initially called Graham before he suggested “Rohan” to director Craig Johnson. “I started thinking critically about what it means to be a Brown kid with a white family,” Dodani said.
Even such a seemingly minor amendment is the kind of nuance that Dodani feels can make a difference to the story. “When you have a bigger role, you really get to have more to play with. But even when you have smaller roles, they’re still full humans; you just have less clues on the page.”
Hollywood is slowly beginning to give diverse talent a real seat at the table, but Dodani’s been busy building a table of his own.
The 28-year-old Dallas-born actor got his big break on the Netflix show Atypical, a comedy-drama about an autistic teenager, named Sam, beginning to navigate the social challenges of romance. Dodani played Zahid, Sam’s best friend, which is a role he’s pretty familiar with.
As Hollywood has started to open its shiny gates, many non-white, queer, and body-diverse performers have been cast as best friends, sidekicks, and B-plots.
Dodani has been gracing our screens for nearly a decade. He’s played the sardonic sidekick in the film adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen, a potty-mouth dating aficionado in Atypical, and Ogie, the nerdy auditor in the Broadway musical Waitress.
But throughout it all — including a comedy bit about being Indian and gay in 2016 that drew mainstream Indian coverage — Dodani has always been unapologetically himself, pushing Hollywood to keep up and adapt.
Actor Nick Dodani has spent the past eight years studying how power moves across Hollywood’s chessboard. Not on purpose, necessarily. But when you represent the margins in an industry that’s currently trying to rectify with and reconcile decades of harm, noticing the structures and systems behind the curtain becomes second nature.
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This post is tagged under: Nick Dodani, Hollywood, Celebrity, Queer, Brown, Atypical, Dear Evan Hansen, Escape Room, Indian, Netflix, Indian As Hollywood Actor, Nerdy, Breaking Stereotypes
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