Ambika Mod may have just landed the lead role of Emma in Netflix’s drama series adaptation of David Nicholls’ novel One Day, but she was turned down for every acting role she went for during her time at Durham University.
However, fate intervened when, coming out of an audition, she spotted a sign for the Durham Revue, the university’s equivalent of the Cambridge Footlights.
“I hadn’t written any comedy before. But I went along and kept getting through to the next round and eventually I got in. It felt like it was meant to be, I had found my calling in comedy,” says Mod, who has just finished shooting the second series of I Hate Suzie alongside Billie Piper for Sky Atlantic.
After university, Mod continued to stage comedy gigs in the evenings and act in short films, while also juggling full-time jobs working in the stock department of retailer John Lewis and as a PA at Conde Nast. It was just before she took a show to the Edinburgh Fringe, in 2019, that she started reaching out to agents and auditioning for roles. Then Covid hit.
“The pandemic came and comedy died on its arse and I felt like I didn’t have anything, just an industry that I didn’t feel part of. It was a huge test of resilience,” says Mod, who believes she got the role of junior doctor Shruti in hit BBC drama This Is Going To Hurt thanks to her comedy training.
“That was my way into the role and it might have been what set me apart when I was auditioning, but I had such a big learning curve with the heavier subject matters,” says the actress, who received rave reviews for her performance opposite Ben Whishaw.
Looking ahead, south London-based Mod has ambitions to work with — and emulate the careers of — creatives such as Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie. “My focus is very much on acting for the next couple of years, but in terms of the long game I would love to develop and produce projects. I will always be an all-round creative at heart.”
Contact: Roger Charteris & Harley Morton-Grant, The Artists Partnership
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