For as long as she can remember, Kansara has wanted to be an actor. Chalk it up to the Bollywood films she’d watch with her mother or her dad’s love of action movies or the fact that her family would try to go to the theater every Christmas. The arts were ever present in her life growing up. “It was such a big thing that we all used to love and enjoy with each other,” she shares. “To have that influence at such a young age and to also have so many forms of escape and adventure in your life through the arts and through film, television, and theater, I couldn’t help but want to be a part of all of it.” But leaving her secure job for the unpredictable entertainment industry wouldn’t be easy. She had to get her family’s approval first.
Mirroring a scene in Polite Society when Ria tells her parents she wants to be a stunt woman post-graduation, Kansara sat down with her mother, father, and brother and confidently told them her new career plans. “I remember sitting at the dinner table … and being like, ‘I’m going to quit my job and be an actor,”’ she tells me. “And they were like, ‘Um, do you want to book a job first?’” Kansara understood the pivot would come with some risks, but she couldn’t wait any longer. “Some people would call it brave, and others would call it psychopathic. I mean it’s terrifying—I won’t lie,” she says. “To leave that system and be on my own and have to fend for myself in that way was terrifying, but it was also truly freeing.” It took one conversation for Kansara’s family to be on board, and shortly thereafter, she booked her first job.
Kansara made her small-screen debut last year playing Miss Eaton in season two of Bridgerton, which she described as “an incredible learning ground,” followed by the Netflix series The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself. After submitting a self-tape for another part in Polite Society, she was asked to come in and read for the film’s lead, Ria. Walking into the Working Title offices and meeting the producers and writer-director Nida Manzoor—whose previous work, such as We Are Lady Parts, Kansara admired—was both terrifying and incredibly rewarding. “I remember reading with them that day and them helping me to lean into the craziness of the story and lean into how wired Ria is as a person,” she recalls. “Ria is just this spirited, determined young lady, and she’s just such a fun character, and the story is absolutely bonkers. You have to be ready to go on this ride.”
And ready to go on the ride she was. The day after landing the part, Kansara started her prep, which consisted of grueling martial arts and stunt training three to four days a week. Kansara was quite literally living out her character’s dream. Although she had no prior martial arts experience, her background in dance gave her the stamina to keep up. “I wanted to try everything from the beginning,” she says. “Whether I was a natural at it… Look, I probably had a false sense of confidence. I was probably like, ‘I’m so good!’ And they were like, ‘We’re using a double.’”