(October 11, 2022) Despite being the largest immigrant community in the United States of America, Indian Americans have not received enough representation in Hollywood for years. However, in the last half-decade, many Indian and Indian-origin youngsters have made their presence felt in the movie industry. One such young actor who is batting for Brand India is Swayam Ranjeet Bhatia, or Sway, as she is popularly known. This 15-year-old actress from New York City started her career about four years ago with a small TV commercial and is today considered one of the most prominent child artists in the States. A scene-stealer on the Disney+ series, “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers“, Sway has already been a part of major production projects including HBO’s “Succession” and Netflix’s “Master of None“. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
An accomplished singer, dancer, model, drummer, and comedian, the young actress travelled with Broadway’s School of Rock promo tour for two years between 2016 and 2017, singing and dancing in the show’s hit production numbers. From walking at the New York Fashion Week in NYC to India’s Kids Fashion Week in Mumbai, this young Global Indian has made a name in the world of haute couture at a very young age.
“Ever since I was real young I was obsessed with Bollywood. I think all of the aspects of the Bollywood movies from the dancing, singing, and costumes, I think all of that inspired me. I grew up in Dubai, I used to reenact the scenes in little mini-Indian outfits and props from around the house. From then my parents just really realised that I loved the entertainment industry and wanted to be in it,” Sway had said during a recent interaction with Pop City Life.
With her roots in Gujarat, Sway was encouraged by her parents right from when she was just a three-year-old toddler. She started taking dance classes after school and also worked on a few print and TV commercials. Interestingly, she got her first big break when she arrived on the shores of the USA as a six-year-old.
“My parents agreed to find dance classes to give me an outlet, and even before I was four, I was already performing in shows and competitions. When I headed back to NJ/NY around the age of six, I adjusted right away, and we signed with a Manager and entirely concentrated on training in several areas of performing arts,” the actress shared. The young star got a chance to share the stage with one of her idols, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, and had a fun time performing with her. It was during this performance that Sway decided that the stage is where she belongs.
A triple threat – a performer who can act, dance, and sing brilliantly – Sway made her professional debut as a theatre artist in the cast of Really Rosie at New York City Center. She went on to act in various plays after that, including The Children’s Hour, The Perfect Fit, and Madeline’s Christmas.
At 13, Sway got the big break she had been dreaming of. Disney had been looking for actors to redo it’s cult-classic The Mighty Ducks (1992 – 1996) and they found their Sofi Hudson-Batra in Sway. “When I first got the auditions, I had not seen the trilogy before, but many people recommended it to me because I used to be a figure skater when I was growing up in Dubai,” she told The Hindu during an interview, adding that she even went to Vancouver for 15 days to train with the National Hockey League players to get the part.
Even though she endured many injuries during her training period, the actress was determined to get the role and after about one-and-a-half months signed a two-season contract with Disney+. Talking about the moment she received the call from her manager to tell her she got the part, Sway recalled, “When I found out I booked the role, I went to the old ice rink that I used to train at and a bunch of memories came back, it was so nice to be back on the ice. I trained a little bit on the figure skating side when I got there. When we got to Vancouver to film the pilot we had two weeks of hockey training and we were getting trained by real NHL players. They were hockey coordinators and choreographers for the rest of the show. We got great training and the whole cast is on the ice was such a great bonding experience. We had to become a team and work as one.”
Art for activism
But, she is not just an actress. An activist in her own right, Sway is an empowered feminist who has inspired kids her age through her social media presence. The actress has time and again mentioned that she is pleased that her part in The Mighty Ducks is inspiring many brown kids in America. “Highlighting the journey of a strong girl of colour who is a great hockey player is so important because you don’t see it in the sports space. She may seem like a perfect fairytale character on the outside, but the show highlights some insecurities we don’t see right away,” she described.
Inspired by Vice President Kamala Harris to break barriers, the young actress wants to one day establish a career behind the camera. “I would love to get behind the camera at some point, especially with cinematography. When I go to college, I hope I can know more about directing or writing, or I might want to study computer science. Right now, I love writing my music and I have a lot of movie ideas in my head that hasn’t been written out yet.”