Diya Modi, an incoming junior at Tesla STEM High School, is enjoying her moment on the silver screen.
When Modi was younger, she had always wanted to see herself on a movie screen. She drew inspiration from actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, and hoped that one day she would also be able to impact others through her on-screen performance.
As a child, Modi had been heavily involved in dance and many small productions such as commercials. But it was not until Anu that she got a true taste of her passion for acting.
She was scouted for the film at a hip hop and classical dance competition in Seattle. The film director of Anu, Sudeshna Sen, was in the audience when Modi performed an act and dance that she had been practicing for months.
To get the role, she went through a series of auditions and was finally selected to play Anu’s titular character — a 12-year-old South Asian American. The movie is about the girl’s bond with her grandfather, whom she considers her best friend.
“[Anu] meant a lot to me, especially since I was going through similar experiences with my grandpa at the time,” Modi said.
Although Modi had to spend two full months doing eight-hour shoots for the film, she said she valued the experiences she had on set. Her experience with the vibrant cast, intriguing storyline and a relatable script all fueled her passion for delivering a strong performance.
One memorable moment for her was when the crew cried after watching her film a crying scene.
“I feel like it’s such a powerful thing to be able to make people feel things,” she said.
Although Modi’s time on set was an experience of a lifetime, taking time off from high school came with its own obstacles.
Modi had an on-set teacher to make sure she stayed connected with schooling. Before taking this brief absence from Tesla STEM, she was able to communicate with the school and her teachers to receive curriculum materials and attend classes virtually. She also carefully planned her days to minimize the amount of classes she missed while balancing her on-set duties.
“I can’t put school on the back burner just because I am having a lot of fun acting…my parents are also big advocates for putting school first,” Modi said.
Since the filming of Anu wrapped, Modi has prioritized school once again. She is taking on fewer large filming projects and focusing on her upcoming junior year, especially given she intends to pursue a career in medicine. Modi does have plans to continue acting in the future by filming smaller projects and pursuing modeling on the side.
Modi believes determination was key to her success.
“If you want to audition for a movie, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it, just believe in yourself, and try your best,” Modi said. “Whatever happens, it’s what was meant to be so you see and learn to trust the process and do what you can.”