(November 13, 2022) Over one billion Christians from across the globe were delighted when American filmmaker Dallas Jenkins announced that he would chronicle the journey of the Christ through his web series The Chosen. As more details started to come from the show’s set, people murmured about an Indian-American cast in one of the most important roles in the series. But, despite all their doubts, the audience was absolutely mesmerised by actor Paras Patel, who portrayed the role of Saint Matthew, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.
The Global Indian has been a part of three major shows, including ABC Family’s ‘Teen Spirit‘ and CBS Films’ ‘The Duff‘. “Growing up, it was such a rare treat to see someone that looked like me on TV or in a movie, and I took it for granted that it would always be that way. As visibility for South Asians is increasing in mass media, there is still a long way to go, and I hope to inspire the next generation of South Asian artists to see a place for themselves in this industry,” the actor shared during an interview with Voyage LA.
The world’s a stage
Belonging to a Gujarati family who immigrated to the USA several decades back, Paras had, on numerous occasions, shared that he loved acting and performing for the crowd since he was a young kid. In love with Bollywood and its music, Paras even played games inspired by movies growing up. “As cliched as it sounds, I knew I wanted to act at a young age. I loved to perform whenever I could, whether it was in school plays, cultural community shows, or even family gatherings. During summer breaks, my brother and I would use a camcorder and make little skits and pretend we had our own TV show. I’ve played various fictitious roles, from a mad scientist to an angry chef! I remember when I was in 5th grade, I did a book report but turned it into a play and performed it in front of my classmates. It wasn’t a part of the assignment at all, but I just did it. It just came naturally to me,” the actor told Voyage LA.
After earning a degree in finance, the actor started looking for job opportunities. however, the prospect of a career in numbers didn’t make him happy. And so, he started working on the sets of various productions in Atlanta, to get on-field experience, starting from one of the biggest cult-drama that aired on American television – The Vampire Diaries. All the money that he earned doing the background work on these productions went into his acting classes, getting headshots, and other career-related material.
“Through a showcase from one of my classes, I met and signed with my first agent and then happened to book my first audition ever, a lead in Teen Spirit which was a feature film for Freeform. I continued to work on various productions in the south for another year, and then eventually moved to Los Angeles to further my career. Moving to LA was a whole new world, and I had to start over with building relationships and enrolling in more training to strengthen my craft… but I haven’t looked back since,” he said.
The Chosen one
While he had to face several hurdles during his initial days of struggle in LA, the actor was soon spotted by producers and started working on minor roles in various movies and TV shows. Although a few people didn’t approve of his career choices, Paras was determined to make it big in the entertainment industry.
“In Indian culture, you are expected to take a more traditional career path, so it was a bit of an eye-opener for my loved ones when I went from pursuing a career in finance to acting. I am grateful that my parents have always been supportive, but I’ve had some extended family members question my career path and express doubt in my future as an actor,” he shared during the interview, adding, “This line of work also comes with countless rejections, fear that you’re wasting your time, and tons of self-doubt. You can be a great actor but never get a chance to work. This business has a certain degree of luck involved. I’ve got parts that have been edited out numerous times due to factors out of my control.”
Not one to give up easily, Paras was persistent and eventually landed the role of Matthew in The Chosen after several auditions. “I portray a historical figure. Season 1 has amassed over 35 million views globally in a span of a few months! I am incredibly thankful and grateful to the fans of the show, whose numerous messages of support and appreciation of my work have impacted me profoundly,” the actor shared.
Even though much is known about the character he played, Paras admitted that he was surprised to see the character written in a way that had never been done onscreen before. “It was the character description depicting Matthew as on the autism spectrum and the writing that initially drew me to the project,” the actor shared during a podcast, adding, “The impact the show has had on our audience and having underrepresented communities feel like they are finally getting the representation and acceptance they deserve on a mainstream show keeps my heart full.”
An actor who loves challenging roles, Paras is looking to collaborate with several other artists in the coming years. “I think what sets me apart as an actor is that I am always working on my craft to continue to get better. I am a hard worker and am always looking to improve. I also love to collaborate and meet others, as I believe there are enough seats at the table in this business and we should all support one another,” shared the actor.