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The ‘Kamala’ Effect

The Half Indian/Half Black VP candidate opened doors for ME, in surprising ways

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Kamala Harris
Editorial credit: Kim Wilson / Shutterstock.com
Kamala Harris Editorial credit: Kim Wilson / Shutterstock.com

It was early afternoon on August 11, 2020. I was attending my weekly Zoom coaching session, and we were about to wrap up, when, Ding! my phone buzzed.

Loudly. As if demanding my attention. With a sigh, I picked it up, and there it was..

The news many of us had been waiting for: ‘Joe Biden picks Kamala Harris for the Vice President slot.’

Immediately, I posted it on chat to let my fellow female zoom-mates know that history was just made. We all erupted in joy and pride and relief.

This tough, ambitious, smart, politically savvy Daughter of Immigrants just became the first Woman of Color to be nominated for Vice President.

Kamala dominated the news coverage that day — from traditional news outlets to social media platforms — it was all about Kamala. 

It seemed a true ray of hope was shining amid this perpetual darkness. Women and Men, Black, White, Brown and Rainbow – all colors glowed brightly. We all felt deeply connected in this seminal moment.

We had made an impact. We, the people, had prevailed.

Women’s groups leaped to her side and warned the media against any misogynistic attacks. This woman, unlike the one in 2016, will be defended. Her dignity will be protected —at all costs.

My mom and I couldn’t stop smiling. My brother was happy and proud. This is what we desperately wanted.  She was the right person, with the right credentials, at the right time.

And oh yeah.. she also happens to be half Indian.

I’m an Indian woman and have been aware that Kamala is Indian, too. But, honestly, I have always thought of her as a Black woman. She’s a Howard Graduate, after all. In her DNC acceptance speech, Kamala herself said her mother raised her and her sister “to be proud, strong Black women.”  (Read her powerful speech here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/08/19/democratic-national-convention-live-updates/)

So armed with this knowledge, I firmly told my mom that we need to respect Kamala and see her as she wishes to be seen: A strong, proud Black woman.

But the airwaves continually flooded with details about her Indian heritage– her mother and her family in India, her Tamil roots — and my heart leapt in joy! 

I was… strangely happy.

And then for the second time in 2 days, Ding! My phone buzzed.

I was surprised to see the name on the caller ID, so I let it go to voicemail. It was bizarre to have my former friend call me out of the blue. We had fallen out of touch, years ago.

So why now?

Intrigued, I called him back. We chatted about our lives and what we’d been up to lately in our careers (not much since March). And he brought up that he had written a scene for me (to be performed by me, on camera — I’m an actress) and he thought I’d be just right for it!

Gift it to me? My spidey senses tingled. 

He referred to how I was now at the right age, right time, right place and am ‘perfect’ to star in major TV shows. But I haven’t been told I was ‘perfect’ for anything in Hollywood for a long time- I guess the quarantine is bringing out my glow? Awesome.

And then he said the magic words:

“And you know, now with Kamala” …and there it was…THE REASON. The reason he called. The reason he wanted to ‘gift’ me the scene, and why he thought I would be — ‘perfect’ for it (there’s that word again).

And I finally put it together. Watching Kamala on his TV Screen all day/all night – had reminded him of ME. 

Knowing about Kamala’s Indianness reminded him of my Indianness, and by extension, my talent. And suddenly he wanted to work with me!

An established white male Hollywood writer with 20+ years experience wanted to work with me, an actress of color. And just like that, with one single phone call, I was in business.

That was just the beginning. I’m now flooded with a barrage of inclusive casting references and my shocking magical timing.

Such is the power of being Seen. Of having a Voice. Of Being Represented. 

I’m still the same me. But the world is looking at me differently — with more consideration and care.

So, I hope my experience inspires and motivates you — not just to vote this November– but also to keep standing up for your friends and neighbors and colleagues and strangers.

It’s making a difference. You are making a difference. In more ways than you can imagine. 

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