Advance Awards The Arts Winner 2021
Pallavi Sharda is a Bollywood, Hollywood actor and dancer, currently starring in the 2021 American comedy film, Tom and Jerry. Born in Perth, her parents immigrated to Australia from India and raised Ms Sharda in Melbourne where she earned an Bachelor of Laws (Hons)/Arts in Media and Communications, as well as a Diploma in Modern Languages (French) at the University of Melbourne. Ms Sharda moved to Mumbai to fulfill her childhood dream of working in Bollywood films where – against all odds – she went on to successfully star in several Bollywood films including Begum Jaan (2017), Besharam (2013), and Indian period drama Hawaizaada (2015). During that time she crossed back over into Australian films, working in films like Save Your Legs (2013), and the Oscar nominated Lion (2016).
Ms Sharda has critically acclaimed performances across genres and territories and is known by her fans in India for her unique rhythmic dancing. In recent years, Ms Sharda returned to Australia to star in the ABC television dramas, Pulse and Les Norton and also played the female lead in Gurinder Chadha’s UK period drama Beecham House. Since the onset of the pandemic, her career has soared. She starred in the Covid-19-inspired and filmed ABC TV series, Retrograde and in a leading role in The One, a 2021 Netflix series. She plays a key character in the 2021 American comedy film, Tom & Jerry, produced by Warner Animation Group, has just wrapped Thunder Road film Black Site and will star in the 2022 Netflix film, Wedding Season. With her global success since 2020, Ms Sharda is increasingly focused on creating her own work. She speaks openly about how difficult she found finding work as an Indian-Australian woman. Having risen from community arts in Australia, she is inspired to provide mentorship for young people of diverse backgrounds, and help them build their confidence to deliver authentic multicultural characters. Ms Sharda speaks widely on a number of social issues, an amongst many of her advocacy roles she has been on the board of advisors for a sustainable development enterprise farming initiative in Odisha, India; ambassador for Oz Fest Australia; and promotes the cause of sustainable fashion through her partnerships with a number of NGOs.
“As an Australian, the knowledge that I am setting an example that being a ‘migrant kid’ is a boon not a hindrance is a huge motivator. I want to impart the sense that access to a multi-hyphenated identity is a super power and allows for an added layer of human empathy and understanding which can be channeled through any vocation. Growing up in Australia is a privilege, but often ceilings are placed upon that privilege which create limiting beliefs, particularly for those who sit outside the heteronormative, white hegemonic cultural order. My work allows me to constantly push those boundaries. My work is not about me, but about the generation which comes after me.
Being of Indian heritage also gives me unique access into the world of the subcontinent and as a performer allows me to represent the many particularities that exist under the umbrella of being a South Asian Australian woman – that is an honour. I am fortunate to able to combine my values with my work and I hope to only exert positive, empowering influence through each performance and through my advocacy work on the myriad issues about which I am passionate, within and without the performing arts industry. My core interest is in obliterating discrimination and societal inequities. It’s a large vision – but without idealism, I would be nowhere.”