Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows have become an international success story, amassing a global fan following of teenagers and adults. So it’s no surprise that the Netflix adaptation, which combines both book series, was going to attract similar attention. And it hasn’t disappointed.
With Jessie Mei Li in the leading role, supported by newcomers Archie Renaux and Freddy Carter, it’s Amita Suman who arguably has the most impressive job. Adopting the role of Inej Ghafa, a tough and talented warrior-in-the-making who knows how to handle a knife or two, she’s agile, determined and strong. The role has hints of Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark, equally as impressive in scope and rooted in emotional depth. It’s no wonder Suman is already the fan favourite.
Preparing for a second season of the hit show, and expertly adorned in the latest pieces from BVLGARI, she sat down with us to discuss her breakthrough.
Ryan Cahill: Did you always want to be an actor?
Amita Suman: I have wanted to be an actor since my first experience watching a film on a small black and white TV in my village in Nepal. All I knew at the time was what I could see, touch, taste and hear, but everything on the TV showed me a world where anything was possible. I trained for three years at a drama school in London.
RC: Things have really blown up for you since you appeared as Inej in Netflix’s Shadow and Bone. What was the filming experience like?
AS: I prepared to give my all for the role, knowing that opportunities like this unfortunately aren’t written often for Brown actors, and somehow lucked out even more with the cast and the team. I had the best time doing what I love alongside great people.
“I have wanted to be an actor ever since my first experience watching a film on a small black and white TV in my village in Nepal. All I knew at the time was what I could see, touch, taste and hear, but everything on the TV showed me a world where anything was possible.”
RC: I love Inej so much. She has some pretty intense fight scenes and is very agile. How did you go about preparing for the role? Did that take a lot of training?
AS: I did train a lot to metamorphose into Inej, changing my body from the inside and outside to feel strong and agile. Inej moves like smoke – that was quite hard to nail but I’m hoping that for season two I’ll have that down. The bit I enjoyed the most was living in her head – the intensity and purpose I felt was electric.
RC: The show has quite an intense fanbase and the book has some loyal followers. How have you been handling the newfound attention?
AS: I’ll never get used to it. I think I will always find it weird that people care about what I’m doing. But it’s a nice feeling knowing your work means something.
RC: Have there been any surreal moments yet?
AS: It’s a blessing I now get to meet and work alongside people I look up to. I was also invited to Wimbledon to watch the men’s semifinals – it was definitely surreal being there instead of watching the game on TV. And suffering whiplash from watching the ball go back and forth was totally worth it!
RC: Do you have any funny anecdotes from the set that you can share with us?
AS: When all of us were filming the last episode, we sang, played games and laughed a lot when we weren’t working. I especially enjoyed the battle of the knife and fork with Jessie – unfortunately she won. One person has a fork in their mouth, the opponent a knife or a spoon, and you win if you manage to knock your opponent’s utensil out of their mouth using only your head.
"The plan is to continue doing what I love without being stereotyped. I quite enjoy the anticipation of what’s around the corner because you never really know in this industry."
RC: As you mentioned, Shadow and Bone has already been confirmed for a second series. Can you tell us more about that? Do you know when you’re filming?
AS: Every time we’ve had a meeting about season two, my jaw has dropped several times about what they’ve got planned, and let’s just say I cannot wait to start.
RC: Finally, tell me a little bit about the future. What are you hoping to achieve in the long term?
AS: The plan is to continue doing what I love without being stereotyped. I quite enjoy the anticipation of what’s around the corner because you never really know in this industry. One minute you’re sipping tea in bed and the next you’re on a ship fighting monsters!
This interview is taken from our Taking Back Control issue. Order your copy here.