‘STAR TREK : PICARD’ – Ayushi Chhabra

Ayushi was born in India but spent her childhood in Nigeria and moved to South Africa with her family at the age of 13. She lived & grew up in Bedfordview and Edenvale (Gauteng) and then went on to study Broadcast Journalism at Rhodes University. At the age of 24, Ayushi moved to LA.

2020 saw Ayushi making her American Television debut, as the alien character “PEL” on CBS’s TV series – ‘STAR TREK : PICARD’,  alongside Sir Patrick Stewart and Allison Pill. Chhabra’s role in the first season of the show was a major departure from previous work and required her to go through hours of intense hair and make-up to transform her into the character of a pregnant Romulan (alien).

In 2021, Ayushi will be working on a book detailing all her experiences living & working in Hollywood – the good, the bad, the unbelievable! She will also be promoting her film, ‘919’ along with taking her acting career to the next level by exploring opportunities internationally, in Africa, India and the UK, in addition to the United States.  

Ayushi’s much awaited Telugu (Indian language) feature film, ‘919’, will see a global release. Ayushi learned Telugu for this film and it is her first time doing a classic Bollywood style film.  

Ayushi, who has spent the last six years working and living in Los Angeles, is currently back in South Africa to be closer to her family in Johannesburg.

In 2020, Ayushi made South Africans very proud, when she debuted on American Television, as the alien character ‘PEL’ on CBS’s most sought-after series – ‘STAR TREK : PICARD’.

From signing thousands of autographs for Star Trek fans to doing interviews all over the world – Ayushi has gained immense love and support from Trekkies across the globe. The story of how she booked this breakthrough co-star role is one for the books! Ayushi is one of the few South African Indian women to be featured on such a legendary franchise and it is truly a career highlight, especially after 6 years of non-stop hustle and hundreds of auditions.

Ayushi’s extensive resume of acting also includes over 50 national (U.S) and international commercials for A-list brands like Amazon, Toyota, Google, U.S. Census, Motorola, Samsung, GAP, Emirates, Hyatt, State Farm, Vitamix, Snapchat, Facebook, Target, Walmart, Apple and many more.

Ayushi has been a great source of inspiration to many aspiring South African artists who wish to make their passion a full-time job and move abroad to showcase their talents on an international stage. From being awarded the Entertainment Visa for the United States twice, to building a life in LA, away from family, and doing every single Entertainment related job to survive – Ayushi’s story is nothing short of extraordinary.

In her own words – ‘a full-time job, auditions no matter how big or small, print, commercials, industrials, film, tv, theater, background, extra work, brand ambassador work, giving out samples at trade shows, paid audience gigs, participating in games shows – I HAVE DONE IT ALL. I know what a struggle it is for an immigrant to get a visa to live and work in the United States and I never take that for granted’.

RUAN: From India to Nigeria to South Africa and now finally in Los Angeles. What has life been like for you since you moved to LA to pursue your dreams further?

AYUSHI: Life was definitely a lot easier when I was younger living here or in India or Nigeria, but extraordinary goals require extraordinary effort and my life now is exemplary of how far I have come and how relentlessly I have gone after my dreams. After moving around so much as a child, it feels like I have finally found my home – a place where I belong. I have worked incredibly hard to live in LA, but the City of Angels has also given me a lot of opportunities to grow as a performing artist and as a human being. 

RUAN: What are some of the realities you have face in LA making it big in Hollywood?

AYUSHI: LA is the entertainment capital of the world, saturated with the crème de la crème of talent so to thrive in an industry like this, one has to be on their A-game. One has to constantly fight to remain relevant and memorable. That fight is a reality. Rejection is a reality. Loneliness is a reality. BUT the rewards are precious. 

RUAN: How did you land your role in CBS’s TV series – ‘STAR TREK : PICARD?

AYUSHI: I did a lot of auditions for all kinds of acting jobs from heavy series regular roles to no-name one-liners like Nurse #3, Pretty Cowgirl (yes lol), but after years of auditioning, I finally booked a co-star role on such a big show and I think part of the reason why that happened was because I did not overthink it. I did not go in with too many expectations, I didn’t even know what I was auditioning for. I just went in, treated it like a job, did not come from a place of desperation and all of that helped me secure the part. 

RUAN: You’ve acted alongside Sir Patrick Stewart and Allison Pill. What was that like and did you learn any skills from them?

AYUSHI: I acted alongside Mason Gooding and Michelle Hurd, and the most important thing I learned from them is how to be a generous scene partner. Whether the camera was on them or not, they did every take with the same passion and conviction. And that is truly remarkable especially when you are doing a dramatic scene that is emotionally challenging. 

RUAN: What are some of your tricks and tips on how to land an audition for a movie or TV role?

AYUSHI: HUSTLE to be seen and to be heard. If you have a talent to share and if you have a burning desire to book acting jobs, then HUSTLE, find an agent, have marketable headshots, value every platform that is given to you, whether it is a commercial, a short film, industrial anything – you never know who will spot you. And mainly, be the best person for the job. Be so good you can’t be ignored. 

RUAN: In 2017 you gained weight from mental health issues, how did you overcome that battle?

AYUSHI: I rediscovered what I loved about performing and for me, it was dance. Punjabi folk dance to be specific. I started dancing again and that not only lifted my spirits but also helped me get more active and feel fit. Little by little, I started taking my health and fitness more seriously. I could see how my weight gain had impacted my career and as the Rock says, if something stands between you and your success, MOVE IT. Never ever be denied’. There are many things we cannot change but our mental and physical wellness is in our hands. We can feel better but we have to take the first step. 

RUAN: As a person suffering from acne for years, you learned valuable lessons on skincare from the beauty industry, being in front of the camera, working with industry experts and curing your own acne. Could you share some of them with us?

AYUSHI: Yes. The biggest tip is to be careful what you consume. If you drink a lot or smoke or eat badly or have food intolerances like allergic to gluten or diary – that is bound to manifest on your face. So that would be my most valuable tip. Be conscious of what is going in your body and how it is reacting to it.

RUAN: As a 30-year-old Indian woman, you are constantly asked about marriage and pressured to get married (Indian matchmaking style) and meet men through arranged marriage set ups how do you think we can break the stigma for other Indian independent women?

AYUSHI: Breaking age-old societal stigmas is a work in process but we can start by voicing our opinions, supporting each other and being less judgmental. 

RUAN: What advice or words of wisdom do you have for young actors who would like to follow in your footsteps?

AYUSHI: Spend some time to find out why you want to be an actor so that whenever life knocks you down, or you feel rejected or discouraged – you can go back to that place and get inspired again. Also, I am sure you’ve heard this before but WRITE. You might not see the part for you for the longest time, but you can write it for yourself. Today’s actor is a creator. So go after your dreams and BE UNSTOPPABLE, no matter where you are. 

For more info, please check out:
IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm6612054/
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ayushichhabraofficial/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ayushi_chhabra

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