(November 1, 2022) Born to an Indian doctor father and a Swiss artist mother, Hollywood actress Geraldine Viswanathan grew up in Australia with a deep love for horses and acting. After appearing in a Kodak television commercial when she was four years old, Geraldine began honing her acting skills.
Geraldine who has also worked as a voice artist grew up deeply loving performing arts as part of her upbringing. Her mother Anja Raith who runs an acting school, attended musical theatre school in London and was an aspiring actress before getting married to her Tamil descent father Suresh Viswanathan. Geraldine’s maternal grandfather was a ballet dancer and film maker.
The actress, who has been in the Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Nex Gen Talent,’ list as one of the 20 rising stars of the industry, is passionate about horses. “I came out of the womb loving horses, I don’t know what happened,” she joked in an interview with W Magazine.
Groomed to be a star
The 1995-born actress attended the Hunter School of Performing Arts at New Castle, Australia, enrolling in drama classes when she was in kindergarten. Although she was young, she was determined to begin preparing for what she knew would be her future.
“I remember being in this play when I was in grade five. I never got any leading roles, but I did get one little comedic bit part and I remember getting a laugh and feeling pretty cool about it,” she said in an interview with wwd.com.
When Geraldine turned 15, her family moved to Los Angeles for a few months. It became a turning point for the actress, who turned this family move into an opportunity to set a base in America, securing a manager for starting a career in Hollywood. Australia had comparatively limited options for her in acting, outside the stereotypical work.
At the end of her family’s stay, she came back to Australia with them but continued working on her career. She would send audition tapes to her manager in America, while performing standup and sketch comedy with her group, Freudian Nip, back in Australia as she waited for her big break.
When she turned 20, Geraldine was selected for the Heath Ledger Scholarship, that gets awarded to an emerging Australian actors with extraordinary ability and dedication to their craft.
Amidst all the developments in Australia, she remained committed to her American dream and later after making big in Hollywood, told in an interview to Insider, “Here in America I didn’t feel held back by my ethnicity, which was a really exciting feeling.”
The big break
In 2016, Geraldine was cast to appear in the film, Emo the Musical in Australia where she had a very small part to play. The following year she joined the cast of ABC’s drama series Janet King in the country that she calls home – Australia.
It was in 2018 that she got her breakout role as an actor in the film Blockers in the US. She played the role of one of the teens whose parents are determined to not let them lose their virginity on the night of their high school prom, while the teens are hell bent on doing so. The film turned out to be the surprise comedy hit of the year. Geraldine’s role was acknowledged, and her dream of having a career in America finally saw the light of the day.
Following this, she went on to work on two critically acclaimed movies Bad Education where she played an Indian character, and Hala in which she portrayed the role of a girl from Pakistan. Both films earned rave reviews at Sundance Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival. Bad Education even managed some Emmy nominations.
Reel and real
In 2020 Geraldine starred in Selena Gomez-production, The Broken Hearts Gallery at Toronto, Canada. It was a breakthrough movie for her in many ways. She not only starred alongside a fellow Australian actor Dacre Montgomery but also like her real life she portrayed the character of a Brown girl whose mother is blonde. The reel mother even looked similar to her real mother.
Just a few years into her career, the actress enjoys a fairly large fan base and has shared the screen with established stars like Allison Janney, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Radcliffe. She has been playing recurring roles in the Australian series Janet King, and TBS comedy anthology, Miracle Workers in the US which is in its third season.
She’s also possibly the first person to tell co-star Daniel Radcliffe that she hasn’t watched the Harry Potter films because she found them too scary. She was eight years old when she saw the first Harry Potter film and Geraldine was so terrified, she had to leave in the middle.
The actress, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, has subsequently given some more good performances in films like The Package, Cat Person, and The Beanie Bubble. She likes to work on projects that are ‘socially conscious’. Geraldine is always on lookout for acting opportunities that have a ‘fresh take’ on life and allow her to ‘explore different sides’ of herself.
Though Geraldine and her sister Indira have not travelled much to India, the actress is connected to the country through her Indian grandparents, who live in Australia. “My grandma is an incredible cook. She cooks biryani, and sambhar and chapati and poori – for me and my sister, that’s our favourite. South Indian food definitely feels homely to me,” she declared in an interview with Business Standard.
The actress who is fondly called Yoyo by her loved ones, finds great support in her mom who always has some tips to give to her daughter in acting. Viswanathan home is never bereft of animals, they love their cats, and dogs as much as their horses.
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