Manoj Sood

The Artist Who

April - July, 2011
Artist who interviews

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An Interview with Actor
Manoj Sood

Manoj Sood 1
Your career is blooming is great directions, when and how did all of this begin for you?
It started way back in the early 90s. I had always wanted to do acting but in all honesty I was scared of starving so I avoided it. I thought I would start slow and try my hand at commercials. I found an agent quite quickly and got a few small non-speaking parts in some commercials. I finally got an audition for a film and much to my surprise I booked the part.

How many TV and movie productions have you been on so far?
I've appeared in about 50-60 different shows. If I count individual episodes or mini series it would be closer to 140 or so.

Manoj Sood 2

Did you ever dream that you would become a well known actor? What motivated you to choose this successful direction?
No, I never dreamed I would get this far. My initial goal was to make an enjoyable 'hobby business' out of it - kind of like a fun part time job. I never thought it would become my entire life and the only thing I do.

How has acting success in acting changed your life/perspective?
I feel very thankful and I know now that more than anything else that the best things in life besides friends and family are things that we achieve through perseverance and hard work. I'd rather earn a million dollars than win it in a lottery.

Your role as Baber Siddiqui on "Little Mosque On the Prairie" is brilliant, describe your inspiration in developing this character. What are the greatest differences between the real you and this character?
Well, the character was created by our show's writers long before I came into the picture. I along with many other actors auditioned for the part and I was lucky to be offered the roll. Originally Baber was written as a mean kind of guy. I thought I would add a soft sensitive side to him; a back story whereby his hard outer shell is a psychological tool he unknowingly uses to hide the fact that he knows he is a very visible awkward and scared outsider in this new country Canada, that he has adopted. An avenue to this sensitivity is how he feels and relates to his daughter who is the core of his life. I think that if Baber still lived in Pakistan that he wouldn't be as fundamental or orthodox as he is.

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What has been the most rewarding part of being involved with "Little Mosque On the Prairie" and/or playing the role of Baber?
I think it is a blessing that I am of a Hindu background playing a Muslim. Unfortunately there is some negative history between Muslims and Hindus - negative issues and situations that occurred in the past for reasons that which both Muslims and Hindus are responsible. I love the fact that I am playing a character that is a part of a show that is breaking down stereotypes and building bridges and understanding between cultures.

Have people come up to you expecting you to be Baber? Please describe a memorable encounter.
Yes it has happened -once 'sadly' and once in a meaningful way. The 'sad' story took place after there was an episode a few years ago where Baber needed Yasir to fix his roof. After the episode I got facebook messages and emails from a few people who recommended a roofer to me personally...

A more meaningful story takes place when I was walking back to my hotel in Toronto one evening. A man stopped me on the street and said something like, 'hey I know you'. I looked back at him and said 'I see' or something like that. He then got on his knees and tried to kiss my hand. I told him that wasn't necessary and I was feeling embarrassed because people were watching. He said 'thank you for what you have done.' He went on to say that he and his family had moved to Canada recently and they always felt like outsiders until Little Mosque began airing. He said he is so proud to now be a part of a country that reflects and celebrates not only his culture but all cultures in its arts entertainment mediums.

Please list some of the other TV shows/movie productions you've played in.
It's a long list but recently besides Little Mosque I've filmed a guest appearance on a new Showcase TV show called "The End Game" and a feature film called "Fathers and Sons."

What are some new projects you have been working on? (Or will be working on?)
I'm in a film right now called Fathers and Sons. I play a gay Bollywood cross dressing choreographer. It was hard work but lots of fun and I am very pleased with how the film turned out.

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You've shown an incredible versatility in the genre of productions you've been in and the roles you've played. If given the choice, what direction would you take your career in?
Of course I want to continue acting but I also am interested in producing and writing.

At this point, what would be a truly great accomplishment in your career?
To achieve the same success I achieved in feature films as I have in TV.

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Manoj Sood 6

You've been described as a "passionate fly fisher and amateur astronomer." What sparked the interest/passion for these activities?
My interest in both activities started when I was a schoolboy growing up in Calgary. I didn't have many friends at school. I was one of the few visible minorities in a society where visible minorities were not common. I was teased in the usual ways you can imagine and I was lonely most of the time. I used to take my dog, Mowgli for walks along the Bow River where I would watch people fishing. I would talk to the fishermen and they were always very friendly for the most part. I learned how to fish and became an expert at it. It was the first real thing I ever became real good at. It is a hobby that I still enjoy today.

My father used to subscribe to National Geographic and I was in awe when I saw the photos of distant galaxies and read about the structure of the universe. I read about distances and how the space-time continuum worked and for some time I could not think of much else. I struggled with the idea of infinity and thought, 'ok if the universe does have an end then what is on the other side of where the end is?' I saved my paper route money to buy a telescope and I remember seeing my fist galaxy - the Andromeda galaxy which is 2 million light years away. I realized that I was seeing it as it appeared 2 million years ago because that is how long it took for the light to reach my telescope. I had been reading that light is made of particles and I was mesmerized to realize that when I see that galaxy that a part of it - a photon of its light, had 2 million years ago left that galaxy and was now bouncing off my retina. I've since seen galaxies a billion light years away and that thought still moves me. My first telescope cost me 60 dollars. I've since used telescopes that cost many thousands of dollars but non have given me the pleasure that first telescope did.

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What is true success? (and/or) What is your passion in life?
For me true success is simply being a good father. My son is my passion.

If given the chance, what would you change about the world/society to make it a better place?
I would like to see people seeing more of themselves in other people who on the surface appear to be very very different. If we saw our similarities more than our differences we would have a much more peaceful planet.

If you could meet anyone out of history, who would it be and what would you ask?
There are many people I'd like to meet but I think meeting Jesus Christ would be interesting...
I would ask him how can a person be expected to use faith as a means of believing in something that rationality would otherwise not allow us to believe?

What advice would you give to an actor/ actress starting out?
Only do it if you can't help but do it. It must be your passion.

Thank you Manoj!

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Manoj Sood
Manoj Sood on IMDb (Internet Movie Database

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