Shruti's story and journey into her passion for theatre is nothing short of an inspiration. I met Shruti in my first Dance session in Silicon Valley, USA. She and her daughter Kavya had enrolled into my Bollywood Choreography classes. Shruti is an investment banker turned homemaker turned actor. She is following her passion and living life to the fullest
A mother to Kavya and Laikh, Shruti is making waves with her amazing work.
Industry: Film and Theatre
Tell us a bit about yourself and about your current profession. What were you doing before you started out on your own?
I thrive on creativity and express myself through my writing, acting and dance. Before branching off on my own, I was an investment banker with JP Morgan in New York.
When did you start your company? Where? And what motivated you to start it? What was your initial investment?
After a couple of years devoted solely to motherhood, I started nurturing my writing and performing interests through local community efforts in the San Francisco Bay Area. I turned professional in 2005 when I started getting paid as an actor.
After the exciting, globe-trotting life of a banker in New York, I took a welcome break for about five years to have and raise my two children. I used this time to assess all my options for the years ahead. While there was nothing to beat the monetary success of a Wall Street career, I was quite enjoying my nameless life in a Bay Area suburb reading O’Henry to my kids. It was blissful to discover and uncover new meaning through my kids’ eyes and I decided to commit myself to creative expression.
My initial investment was truly the opportunity cost of turning down a corporate career and starting afresh despite my two masters degrees and a decade long financial experience.
What have been your achievements, accolades and upturns in your career?
I’ve been fortunate in my career as a professional actor for having worked with some of the biggest names in the industry.
After only two shows, albeit with major theatre groups, I was offered a one-woman show based on Jean Cocteau’s famed La Voix Humaine. Performing that piece, and giving the French cosmopolitan character an Urdu poetry edge, was utterly challenging and incredibly rewarding.
And then, quite serendipitously, I met with Imtiaz Ali for an unnamed Bollywood film to be shot in SF. I ended up shooting a nifty little scene with Saif, expected it to be completely edited out and was pleasantly surprised to see it all on the big screen, shaping up as the 2009 blockbuster Love Aajkal.
It is truly gratifying to think that my satire “Bibijis and Auntyjis” has been performend in SF, LA and Chicago; my upcoming films “Bicycle Bride” and “Foreign” are flourishing in the festival circuit; my film “Adania” where I played Adania was an opportunity for me to discover the depths of human compassion. I remain grateful for the options that came my way.
Any downturns, Unusual circumstances, hardships, you have had to face in your profession/business?
YES! Aside from personal and familial illnesses, the economic downturn definitely made me revisit my decision to be satisfied with the limited income from a primarily theatre-based acting career. I turned down some nationally touring shows, while I took on some financial consulting assignments and mentoring opportunities in juvenile halls.
How do you balance your personal and professional life? How many kids do you have? What are your usual activities with them?
Being clear about my goals and priorities helps me find the balance we all seek. My family takes precedence over all else and I do not pursue opportunities that conflict with our time together.
Fortunately for me, my children are extremely enthusiastic about my creative pursuits and motivate me to keep going. We enjoy discussing Shakespeare in our lofty Oxford accents, we are Lebron and Kobe shooting hoops, we are quiz masters vying to name the capital of Burkina Faso, and we are villagers from UP sitting cross-legged on the grass eating dal-bhat. My usual activities with the kids run the gamut and are always unusually festive.
How do you spend your “Alone” time. Any hobbies, activities, groups you are associated with.
Reading. Watching films and plays. Choreography. orking out. Hiking. Biking.
Were you working before having children? Have things changed in the way you work today after having children?
Yes. Having children has made me more respectful of different approaches to the same end result and I associate greater value to non-verbal communication. I recognize now that most direct conversations are at best first drafts and hence raw, real and unpolished. Written communication comes with the benefit of editing, but sometimes loses its intended emotion.
Do you receive understanding from your family as a business woman? If not, how did tackle such situations.
Yes. At a big picture level, my family backs me in all my decisions and I recognize that their support is a huge reason for my milestones. At a micro level, conflicts do arise and the understanding that we are all working towards the same goals with each other’s best interests at heart, makes it easier for everyone to work through and find solutions. Leaning on an extended network of friends has also been crucial in such resolutions.
What would you recommend to other mothers who want to venture out on their own?
Deciding to make time for your venture is half the battle won. Things do fall into place once you commit to your decision. Also helpful is being flexible and realistic with your goals. Have a timeline planned but don’t set harsh deadlines. If the first few steps take longer, the next few may go much quicker and overall it may end up working for you.
What do you have in the pipeline for your company's future development?
I have several films in the pipeline and I’m itching to do a stage show. My upcoming films include “Bicycle Bride” “Two Mothers”, “Karma”, “Foreign”, “Adania”, “Sati Shaves her Head” and “Dearly Departed”. Some of these will be at the South Asian Film Festival in Goa, Appalachian International Film Festival in Tennessee, Yes India in New Zealand and Mississippi International Film Festival.
Is there any person who has mentored you? Supported you?
Every director and casting director I’ve met with and worked with has been instrumental in furthering my education in the business of acting. I am also grateful to the local media that has consistently given me favorable reviews through all my performances.
And again, the support of my family has been immeasurable.
What/Who has been your inspiration?
It is hard to single out because I derive inspiration from every walk of life and every person I meet. Deep down, the desire to keep going or finding new meaning or a new form of expression, comes from my upbringing. My parents have worked tirelessly all through their lives and I’m grateful to them for my work ethic and indefatigable spirit.
Did you always know that you would be doing what you are doing today?
Not at all! Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor, a tennis star and eventually a politician.
I went on to be a banker, an actor, a writer, a mentor and am learning the art of politically correct speech.
What’s the secret to your being a SuperMomPreneur? And what’s the best compliment you have received about your career or being a self-professional.
SuperMomPreneur is too big a title for me to associate with but I am humbled to think that my story might impact some dreamers out there. I think self-reflection and identifying what one truly wants will help people in whatever they choose. The key is to be true to oneself.
As a mainstream actor in the US, I’ve been conscious of my Indian accent that is not suitable for many roles. The best compliment I received was from a local reviewer about my accent:
"...and Shruti Tewari, who endows lady-in-waiting Maria with a great sense of playfulness and a genuine Indian accent that gives Shakespeare’s words a delicious resonance."