Aparna Brielle, the moderne heroine
Since ancient times, there has always been a leader in society.
That could assume the role of driver, ruler, motivator, and inspiration.
Even in today’s world as we know it, many people lean, metaphorically and otherwise, on others for ideas, support, consolation, help, strength, or push.
We can’t be 100% each day at every moment, and it becomes reassuring and healing to understand it as soon as possible.
But when darkness falls, and everything seems to work against us in our mind, and we can’t see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, looking outside for support to “go further” and find what we need inside of us is a good compromise.
Our mind is powerful, and it can take us down as much as it can take us up. The solution is within us, but often, the self-produced fog does not allow a clear and linear vision. Therefore, an impulse given by someone external to us but whom we deeply admire can make a positive difference.
Aparna Brielle is this: a person who spontaneously instills strength and positivity.
The American actress, now under the spotlight for her role as Tina in FUBAR, is a concentration of joy that radiates rays of light all around her.
Oregon-born with Indian roots, Brielle always had acting coursing through her veins. From her beginning in GRIMM (who, like me, is a fan of the series?), Aparna has always gathered one successful role after another. The Librarians, Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, A.P. Bio as Sarika, Boo, Bitch as Riley, and today Tina in FUBAR, Brielle has never made choices of convenience, always preferring the path of the heart.
Ogliaro: Did you ever dream about becoming an actress, or was it something that came unexpectedly into your life?
Aparna Brielle: I’ve dreamed about being a lot of things all at once – astronaut, marine biologist, dino expert. Being an Actress was always the biggest dream of them, though; I was always pretty imaginative, and I realized early on that playing pretend allowed me to be all of those different things at once.
O: Do you accept a role and fall in love with it at first sight, or do you prefer to take your time and think about it?
AB: Taking on new characters feels, to me, like making a new friend. I’m a people person, for sure, and when I connect with someone new, it feels so exciting. And the deeper that connection and understanding gets, the more rewarding and fulfilling of an experience it is.
O: FUBAR immediately hit No. 1 on Netflix upon release and was recently renewed for Season 2. How was the audition for your role? Is there any particular moment/feeling that you would like to share?
AB: The audition felt like so many others, in that I knew it was a cool project – but I didn’t want to put pressure on myself by dreaming up what the whole experience could be like if I got it. My usual approach with auditions is to play the part and forget about it, which you kind of have to do to protect your peace. There have been at least a million unforgettable moments I’ve experienced through this process. Needless to say, the entire thing has been absolutely surreal, and I’m still pinching myself over it today!
O: You play TINA in FUBAR – an extremely smart NSA analyst. With the huge success of the series, we can say that this role is making a huge impact on your life. How has Aparna Brielle’s life changed after playing the role of TINA?
AB: So many of us are conditioned into impostor syndrome – believing we got our success by fluke, no matter how hard we’ve worked. I am no exception to this, and many times in my career, I’ve wondered if it was all just by accident! FUBAR and Tina brought a whole new level of quiet confidence and assuredness to my approach that I didn’t even expect; Tina, as a character, is new to the group, trying to fit in, but knows her worth. In so many ways, I think she allowed me to really get past my own insecurities and get to a place of contentedness with who I am and what I do.
O: How did you prepare for the role of Tina, and are there any similar traits that you share with her from your own life?
AB: Well, first of all, one of the many things I wanted to do as a kid was to be a spy. My friends and I had a book subscription through Scholastic for something called Spy, University – which was written by a former CIA agent and, while made for kids, actually had legitimate info that’s used even today in the world of espionage. We’d play pretend spies all the time, making up our own cases during recess and trying to fake stunts. Very cool.
Flash forward to FUBAR – I started researching a lot about the art of disguise from former intelligence agents like Jonna Mendez (chief of disguise at the CIA who famously was a part of the Argo mission), which kind of led me back to those Spy, University books. I watched every video I could get my hands on, from YouTube to MasterClass. I read a lot and put more on my watchlist for the future. I watched my cat slink around from room to room and tried to emulate that a bit. And I even kept a journal! I guess you Could say I’m kind of a nerd in real life, too. Tina and I both care a lot about what we do.
O: On the show, you play next to the legend himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Is there anything he taught you, or maybe is there anything about him that inspired you?
AB: Arnold is such an inspiring figure to begin with – his famous work ethic precedes him, and the level of success he’s built is known worldwide. The first thing I learned about Arnold is that he’s a team player; he always says he’s not self-made because there’s no way he could build this career on his own. I have immense respect for anyone who sees the value and power of collaboration. To have someone at his level be excited about work every single day and bond with the cast and crew alike was really special.
O: Experiencing fear as an actor and as a human being is normal. On the verge of a big milestone, it is natural to feel fear; fear of “if things will go wrong, and if I am not enough, and if I will not be a success” and so on. What are your pieces of advice to overcome fear and pursue your growth?
AB: I think it’s easy for us to feel fear and doubt because we are hard-wired to look at all outcomes when we enter any situation. It’s our natural survival instinct, and so it can be hard to break! In these moments, we get hyper-critical of all the reasons we got rejected – for a part, for a relationship, for a home, you name it. Overcoming this as an actor really helped me as a person, and my first piece of advice is this:
Embrace the things about you that are the reasons you got rejected in the first place.
Too tall? Too short? Too Indian? Not Indian enough? Lithe? Muscular? Accents? Long names? Tattoos?
These are all things that make us who we are. I realized after a point that these very things that made me lose roles were also the things that were going to get me unique roles someday. And maybe it’s because I’m Aquarian, but I really love not fitting in the mold – I’d rather make my own. Uniqueness is cool, it’s sexy, it’s alluring. And all it takes is being authentically you: dressing the way you want, embracing yourself and all your passions, and facing each rejection with kindness and security – it’s never really about you, at the end of the day.
O: Tell us one actor (or actress) and one director you dream of working with—just one and one.
AB: Ooh, this is a hard one to narrow down. Honestly, I’m such a huge fan of Florence Pugh – I’d love to work with her and get to watch her process. For director… man, I have so many favorites. I would love to do anything with David Lynch. The more life I experience, the deeper his work resonates with me. I always end up thinking about it years later.
O: A day in the life of Aparna Brielle. How is your typical day? Is there any habit that you never renounce while you are filming and while you relax?
AB: I actually don’t have a very solid schedule most of the time – I keep myself busy with creative projects and plenty of time with loved ones. Flexibility is key for me because I like the adventure of life. But I do like to have a quiet, reflective morning. I enjoy setting intentions and meditating or reading a good book. Most especially, I make sure to squeeze plenty of snuggle time with my cat in the morning – a game-changer for mental health! I do keep that up while I’m filming, waking up way earlier than an already early call time for snuggles. Very important.
O: If you could speak to your younger self, is there anything you would like to tell her?
AB: I’d say thank you to my younger self for continuing to dream big and committing to her passions. Thank you for believing in me, your older self, enough to stay true to who you are! I may know my younger self, but she didn’t know me – she just had ideas of who I could be. I wouldn’t be the person I am without her.
O: Is there any spoiler you can give us about what’s next for you?
AB: We’re going to be seeing a whole new side of Tina. Some might say it’s the real Tina, but one thing we might all be wondering from here on out is: who is the real Tina?
Who is the real Tina? This question leaves a lot of suspense and trepidation.
What we do know is who the real Aparna Brielle is.
The simple girl who left an area of Portland dreaming of glamorous Hollywood and, step by step, climbs to the Olympus of cinema without accepting compromises but following the path of fairness.
The one of pure talent, where you don’t need to condescend to hidden ways to reach your goal. The road that is sometimes more difficult but which always leads to the most satisfying peaks.
This is why Aparna Brielle is motivated, strong, and joyful.
She believed and believed it, overcame obstacles, fell, got up, and arrived to accomplish her purpose. And so it will be for you too. Don’t choose the most comfortable way, but choose the way that will lead you to grow as a person at 360′ and, in the meantime, also enjoy the incredible journey called life.