LIVES IN: Wicker Park AGE: 35 CLAIM TO FAME: After getting raves for her lead role in Victory Gardens’ “Queen,” Mohanty jumped to the screen. She’s partnered with OTV, a platform for emerging series, to create, direct, and star in “FOBia,” which nabbed Best Web/TV Pilot at the LA Film Awards. ON A DARE: Growing up in southwest India, “I would watch movies and act out scenes in my mirror. But being an actor never was an option,” she says. After immigrating to the U.S. in 2014 to get her MBA from Duke University, Mohanty tried acting classes on a dare, fell in love with it, and quit her day job in marketing. ART IMITATES LIFE: Mohanty has always gravitated to theater that examines the intersection of ethnicity and race. And “FOBia” is a comedy addressing the all-too-real fears an immigrant has upon arrival. “Most people don’t know what it’s like to be completely new to this country, and the show is a mix of imagination and personal experience,” she says. SCENE MAKER: Shot around Chicago at Roosevelt University, Lucky Mini Mart (4103 N. Lincoln), Easy Bar (1944 W. Division), and more, the plot swerves from bad dates to the struggle of living far from family. THE HUMAN ELEMENT: Mohanty loves shedding light on the underrepresented and marginalized — a passion that attracts her to Eduardo Kobra’s North Avenue mural of late photographer Vivian Maier (shown here), who was reclusive for most of her life. VOICE OF MANY: “We hear about immigrants all the time, but not from immigrants,” says Mohanty. “We’re constantly viewing them as statistics figures and data. It makes you forget that behind that are humans with actual hopes, dreams, and desires.” MOM TIME: Mohanty is living a dream of her own right now, having just welcomed a baby girl. She loves to dine at Etta (1840 W. North), have family picnics by the lake, and see plays around town.
Watch the pilot episode of “FOBia” at fobiaseries.com
Photo by Lisa Hinsberger