Thought Box



by Vinta Nanda November 8 2023, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins, 45 secs

The title tells you all about her. “Great to hear from you baby boomer sister!” she shouts out to me when I get in touch with actor Sunita Mukhi, writes Vinta Nanda.

I ask her what all she’s been working on lately, and she says, “It is a great honour to have three short films I am part of screening at Tasveer this year. They are “Your Love”, “Stitched” and “How Do You Like Your Eggs”. This is all about Desi Brown, loud and proud!!”

She moved to LA from NYC to pursue a professional career in the industry after decades as an academic and culture worker. She taught Asian and Asian American studies with a focus on theatre, film, arts and culture, and ran the Asian programming at the Charles B Wang Center at Stony Brook University, and at the Asia Society before that.

She was even the Associate Dean for Arts and Culture at De La Salle Benilde in Manila, Philippines! Wow! And, at 62, she’s raring to go and how!

While in Manila, the pandemic hit. She tells me that people younger than her were dying. “Papa who survived Mama also passed away. Having always loved performing since I was 9 or 10, and faced with mortality, I decided I am going to spend the rest of my life pursuing my true love! Whether it be film, theatre, writing, directing, producing - all of it. Since I am footloose and fancy free, I take the risk on myself!” 

So, she returned to the United States, to “DreamLalaland” as she calls it, in March 2022, and has been, “Fortunate”, she says, to continue on this path with over thirty modest projects in LA and NYC from dramatic readings, theatre, short films, commercials, background work. “And what now,” I ask her, and she tells me, “I’m waiting for that recurring role, supporting or leading part in a feature film and theatre piece”. She ends this part of the conversation with a ‘full of life’ “Aha!” 

Sunita Mukhi aka Suni M! is a theatre, film, performance artist, writer, cultural programs curator, and interdisciplinary scholartist. She writes and performs her poetry, stories and monologues that espouse the redemptive power of the arts with dynamic women as central characters. Of Indian origin, born and bred in the Philippines, and thriving in the USA for 30 years, she continues her curatorial work, arts advocacy and practice as the Artistic Director of DeviDiva Productions. And, as Suni M! - a freelance actor. 

Her most recent credits as a principal character include the short films in 2023 Stitched, How Do You Like Your Eggs, Your Love and Stalled that are making the festival rounds this season.  Others include, Life Ongoing (2022), an official entry at the Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles,  Morning with Marty (2018), for which she got Gold for Performance as the female lead at the Filipino Arts and Cinema Festival, 2022, Convenience (2016),  and the forthcoming ‘Jasmine Flowers’ and ‘Twisted Doll’.

Sunita appeared in the music video We Sinful Women (2021) and in vignettes of Lilly’s Library (2022/23).  She has appeared and has helped develop creative projects as Baroness Olga in Schlitzie: Alive and Inside the Decaying Sideshow (2022), and in the dual roles of Basma/Kalama in Accidental Feminist (2022). She also performed the dual roles of Lori and Trudy in the play Patches - mounted at the Hudson Theater Guild (2022). 

She has written, directed and performed ‘Dance Stories of Magnificence and Joy in Hawaii’, and ‘My Eyes Adore You in Verona’ in 2018. In 2015, she mounted a six hour performance based on Dante’s Purgatory entitled ‘Love Gone Wrong, Love Redeemed’, and directed and co-wrote the immersive dance theatrical ‘Quartered’ in 2017.

She also played Death/Devil in ‘The Luminous Mysteries’ (2016), and mounted her solo show ‘The Devi Diva Triad’ to a sold-out house in 2014.  Her monologue from this solo show ‘Unsita Unfinished’ appears in Ecumenica: Journal of Performance and Religion. Her poems are in the online journal Atelier of Healing, at the ‘At the Distance’ exhibition in 2019, and in the ‘BCC: Search for Cures’ exhibition online. She is an associate artist with Rogue Artists Ensemble in Los Angeles.

Now, if that’s not what you call ‘a lot’, then I don’t know what is! I have the honour and privilege to have this conversation with ‘the’ Sunita Mukhi. Over to her…

Where are you originally from? Tell us some more about your growing up years?

I’m born and bred in the Philippines, of Sindhi heritage. I completed post graduate education at San Francisco State University for the MA, and at NYU - PhD Performance Studies

What brought you to acting and the arts?

Since I was 10-years-old, I have loved to perform. I began as a young dancer, and eventually as a director and choreographer in community cultural programs, in the Manila Sindhi community, for festivals like Diwali, Janmashtami and Indian national days like Independence Day, and others like Christmas and New Year's Eve. It was the most beautiful way to express my creativity and community spirit. I was a part of the dramatics guild in school and college. And, continuing with participating in cultural activities in San Francisco in New York. 

The best and the 'not-so-good' times of your life? 

I am married and divorced, and, unfortunately, that did not fulfil my desire for biological motherhood but I’m a happy Aunt. I’ve also managed to teach and graduate over a 1000 young adults as a professor. 

What would you say to young filmmakers, actors, artists?

Prevail, persist and insist on creating that humane, insightful, entertaining story in a masterful thoughtful way. Know your craft, be wise about money, take care of both your mental and physical health, and always be kind. 

What are you dreaming of and how will you achieve it? 

I dream of participating in the creation of an entertaining story in a masterful thoughtful way as an actor, writer, director and producer. I would like to be respected, rich, robust and ravishing in the arts and entertainment industry. Since I have professionalized as a full time actor in 2022, I am working towards a recurring role in a comedic, dramatic, sci-fi/fantasy series, a lead role in meaningful feature films. Ultimately I want to write and produce my own stories, stories that are inspiring, empowering to women and people of colour.

Instagram: @sunimartist: YouTube: @sunitamukhi6780

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