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NYFA Alumnus Jaspal Binning Stars in Netflix’s “Brown Nation”

NYFA Alumnus Jaspal Binning Stars in Netflix’s “Brown Nation”

November 8, 2016 Since graduating from New York Film Academy’s Musical Theatre program, Jaspal Binning has found success acting in theatre and television. In 2013, Binning appeared in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series “The Newsroom,” and, beginning this month, the acting graduate will be playing the lead in Netflix’s original new series, “Brown Nation.”

Binning recently directed a TV pilot, “Doomsday,” which was an official selection at the three major TV festivals in the U.S. — the New York Television Festival, ITV Fest, and Series Fest.

He won Best Director (along with his co-director Sonja O'Hara) at the New York Television Festival and Best Pilot of the Festival at ITV Fest. His project has been featured in Deadline Hollywood (which you can view here) and Variety (which you can view here). Binning will continue to film the rest of the series in the coming year.

Starting Nov. 15, you will be able to see Binning as Guatam in the Netflix series, “Brown Nation.”

Below is a recent conversation the Academy had with the successful alumnus.

Congrats on all of your success thus far! Can you talk to us about “Brown Nation”? How did the role of Gautam come about for you?

Actors Access. A service that actors of all levels can use to submit themselves for consideration on a wide variety of projects. You don't need an agent or a manager to register. I saw “Brown Nation,” on a breakdown and submitted myself for it. It was initially under a SAG New Media contract and it is now a Netflix show. It goes to show you just never know what will resonate with networks, so I believe you should always challenge yourself and put yourself out there.

How would you describe your relationship with the show's writer/director, Abi Varghese?

Very strong. Abi is a visionary, and I feel very fortunate to have worked with him. He is a very kind, intelligent, but, most of all, patient director — a quality that I feel all directors should have, as patience is key in creating great performances. He exemplifies what it is to understand the human condition and guide it out of the actors and into the camera.

In your own words, how would you describe your character? Is he someone you can relate to?

Gautam is an intelligent office worker with a sensitive soul who comes across as a tragic hero. He always strives for the best, but feels he is let down by the stupidity of the other workers surrounding him, especially his boss, Hasmukh. He is a driven man trying to do the best for himself and his family, who cares about his work and strives to be the best in his field. I strive to do the best work I can possibly do and try to learn from every experience, both personally and professionally.

What were some of the biggest challenges in getting into this role?

I have never been married, so understanding that responsibility, and trying to bring truth to that circumstance was a new challenge. It's not as simple as just putting on a ring. There is a weight and responsibility to every choice, and every life decision, and that was a cool aspect of Gautam to learn about and to bring truth to. It is also the first time I have performed in a comedy on camera — which was completely new — having only acted in dramatic projects before it was a real lesson. Learning about specific angles, timing, and freedom. Thank God for Kevin Laibson and his improv classes!

Would you say your NYFA experience was helpful in terms of your acting in this role, and your overall understanding of working on set?

Incredibly helpful! Especially as NYFA is such an international school. My fellow classmates were from all over the world. Going through the daily motions of classes with incredible human beings while also learning about their cultures, heavily impacted me in a positive way. Witnessing the diversity of students at NYFA has encouraged me to always strive for diversity and equal opportunity in all of the work I create now. I recognize the industry is still lopsided at the moment with regards to race, gender, sexuality and disability, and I hope this show encourages our industry to promote diversity, and reflect real life on stage and screen.

Have you already binged this series or will you be waiting like the rest of us?

I haven't. I'm not cool enough. I will be binge watching with the rest of you on Nov. 15, and I really hope you enjoy it!

What advice do you have for students looking to break into the professional world of TV and film?

Know who you are, first and foremost. Your quality will always shine through and that is what casting directors, directors and producers are looking for in every circumstance. You are unique, and bring your own truth. The camera never lies. I also think it's very important to have hobbies outside of acting that keep you grounded, like watching sports, travelling, reading, learning about life and applying that to your work. I'm an epic Manchester United fan, so if you're ever in a football/soccer bar in New York you might see me around!

Are you working on anything else that you'd like to share with us?

In terms of performing, I will be acting on a new Amazon TV series (that I'm not yet allowed to tell you about, but I will soon, promise) and I also began writing. I'm currently in advanced talks with a production company to produce my new pilot that I just created.

Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.

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