While Supinder Wraich is now living in Los Angeles, the actress, writer, and director drew heavily upon her upbringing in Canada’s Northwest Toronto district of Rexdale, for the CBC Gem digital series The 410, which she created, wrote and stars in. Earning comparisons to The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, The 410 was directed by Renuka Jeyapalan, who was praised at this January’s Slamdance Film Festival 2020. Wraich, a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Actor’s Conservatory (CFC) also holds a BA in Communications from Ottawa University and is a Sheridan College, Advanced Film & Television program alumni. As an award-winning actress, she is certainly no stranger to TV viewers after appearing in the FX series The Strain and Amazon’s The Expanse in the U.S. while in Canada, she’s remembered for her roles on Degrassi and in GlobalTV’s Private Eyes. Wraich was gracious enough to speak to us from Los Angeles (where she appears on the ABC drama The Good Doctor) as she discusses The 410, the anti-heroes which inspired her character, Surpreet “Suri” Deol, and why a certain leather-clad favourite character from CBS’s The Good Wife inspired her in wanting to represent South Asian characters in entertainment today.
Jason Sheppard: Are you similar to Suri, the character that you created and portray in The 410?
Supinder Wraich: Yes and no. Suri I think has a harder edge than I do, but a lot of my personal insecurities and ideas that I wrestled with growing up in a Sikh/Punjabi home in the Greater Toronto Area I infused into Suri’s character.
JS: What was the most fun aspect of Suri to portray and what for you was the most difficult?
Supinder Wraich: The crime stuff was the most fun. Both in the writing and playing of it, stealing the Corvette, executing the drug deal, it’s what my dark daydreams are made of. The difficult aspects were around Suri’s relationship with her father. I have a great relationship with my father now, but that’s taken a lot of work from both our sides. The Punjabi culture is very much a patriarchal one. Writing a character with a strong voice while also trying to cultivate that voice for me is still difficult at times.
JS: I loved the opening where we meet Suri who yearns for Insta-Celebrity status and she shouts she desires worshippers from her Toronto rooftop even though she only seems to have the one close friend, J. I’d love to see a prequel about her life before all this just from that introduction alone. Where did that aspect of the character come from?
Supinder Wraich:: At the core, I think Suri has an emptiness inside her that she thinks she can fill with love and admiration from strangers when in fact the very person she needs it from is the one she’s distanced herself from the most, her father. This opening came from my own personal interest in the IG celebrity world, where it seems like the game is just to gain more followers. My interest was in the beast that endeavour feeds (whether we’re on IG or not) I think that hunger to be recognized and rewarded lives inside all of us and I wanted to magnify that for Suri when she says ‘f*ck followers, I wanted worshippers’ we get an insight into how deep-seated that desire is in her.
JS: Do you believe loads of strangers worshipping her is what Suri actually wants or is it that she wants stronger connections to people in her life such as from her dad?
Supinder Wraich: I think the idea of fame is very alluring. Though Suri needs stronger relationships with her family, I don’t think she’s aware of that need. I think she believes like many of us do like I did when I was in my 20s and starting out in this industry, that fame and fortune will solve all her problems.
JS: Did you have a deal in place with CBC or any company before you began writing or did the writing come first?
Supinder Wraich: The writing came first. We actually had some funding approved from Telefilm Canada before we pitched the story to the CBC.
JS: I read in another interview you gave where you remarked that one of your very favourite characters on TV was Archie Panjabi’s mesmerizing Kalinda on The Good Wife. Can you expand on that for this site’s readers?
Supinder Wraich:: Kalinda Sharma for me was the first South Asian female character who was unapologetically badass as the private investigator for Stern, Lockhart and Gardner. She wore leather boots, had a dark past and broke the law as it suited her. This was the first time I’d seen a character like this on TV that looked like me. As an actress, I longed to play a character as complex as Kalinda and I think that having that example made it easier for me to create Suri
JS: In your view has Suri gained a deeper appreciation for her South Asian culture by the end of her ordeal? Why was this important to explore in what is on the surface, a crime drama?
Supinder Wraich:: I don’t think Suri has gained that appreciation yet. My hope is that with future episodes, she maybe finds pieces of that. Canada, and Toronto, in particular, is such a diverse place, but for many new immigrants, including myself, it took me a long time to understand that my diversity is my strength. I think the beauty of the story is that in the world of crime, community and segregation combined with individuals who feel disenfranchised is what protects criminals and allows crime to flourish. The journey of a character who feels like she doesn’t belong eventually finding her place in a community of people who live outside the rules, in this instance her own family I think is really interesting.
JS: There are comparisons to Suri and other anti-hero characters such as Tony Soprano and Walter White. Do you consider Suri a true anti-hero like those characters, who actually chose the line of work they’re in while Suri found herself pulled into this underworld through no fault of her own? Do you think this is a one-time experience for her?
Supinder Wraich:: I think all of those characters are defined by their choices and I do believe that Suri possesses the same elements of those iconic anti-heroes. When she finds the cocaine in the trunk of her father’s car, it’s her choice to sell it. She could have also chosen to call the police. She could have decided that her father should bear the burden of his crimes instead of bearing it for him. I think there are elements of this world she’s found that she likes, and I think this is just the beginning.
JS: What would you like viewers to take away from them after watching The 410?
Supinder Wraich:: At its heart, The 410 is a family crime thriller. I hope those who decide to watch it enjoy the characters and twists and turns of a story and a community that they wouldn’t normally have access or insight into. And that good crime stories can come in all shapes and colours not just within the worlds of the Caucasian male anti-heroes like Marty Byrd, Walter White, Tony Soprano, Dexter to name a few.
JS: Anything you’d care to share to viewers who have responded to The 410 or have yet to seek it out.
Supinder Wraich: Just to note that the first three episodes of The 410 are available to stream for free on CBC Gem whenever anyone wants to watch them.
JS: Thanks so much for speaking to us.
Supinder Wraich: Thanks so much.
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