Meet the Membership: Indira Varma

What are you working on at the moment?

A small part in a lovely six-part comedy that Aisling Bea has written and is starring in. It’s by Merman, Sharon Horgan’s company. It’s absolutely brilliant, really funny and touching.

Who do you find inspiring?

Sharon Horgan for one! I’m really impressed by anyone who is multi-disciplined. When I’m working with people who write and produce and star in their own work I find that incredibly inspiring and something I’d like to be able to achieve one day.

How do you find things vary between US and UK TV productions?

The process is similar, as it’s just about creating something. But America has a lot more money. In terms of representation they are ahead of the UK, even though we’ve come on in leaps and bounds. There’s a bit more opportunity, but then it’s a huge industry compared to ours. The world seems to be getting smaller though and there are British casts in US stuff, so it’s less segregated now.

Were there any particular challenges with working on Game of Thrones?

The repetition was quite tiresome. It felt like they had so much time that it took forever to do things. But the heat was divine. We were in Croatia and Spain and it was fantastic. The difficulty is when you get signed up to something that can sometimes restrict what else you do, and that is really frustrating. You miss out on opportunities for other work.

Your new Amazon show Carnival Row is coming up, which is another fantasy programme. You’ve also tackled a lot of realism. Do you have a preference, or do you like to mix it up?

I’ve only just ‘got’ fantasy. Doing Carnival Row I understood the point of having these allegories. The fantasy element is that there are humans in one country and in various other countries across the water there are these mythical creatures. There’s been a massive war and these mythical creatures are coming over as immigrants to escape. So it’s a look at immigration. It’s a fascinating way to deal with that subject. So I like both, but with fantasy you get to wear amazing clothes, and invent and push boundaries more.

You’ve worked on some high profile video games. How have you found that experience?

Just a laugh. It’s one of those brilliant things where you can go in and scream and shout and play crazy characters just vocally, and that’s great fun. This summer I was asked to go to a World of Warcraft convention and it was amazing. I found it terribly moving. I’m not a gamer so I don’t know anything about them – I’ve never even seen the games I voice. But I went along and it was the most diverse bunch of people I’ve seen. Something like 30,000 people there, some of them dressing up
and making the most elaborate costumes. It was really lovely.

Have you noticed  a change in the industry over the last couple of years since the sexual harassment headlines?

Certainly conversation is happening, which is incredible. People are taking responsibility now, and for the first time I feel like it’s not just lip service. And I’m not just talking about the sexual harassment, but also in terms of fair representation across the board for people with disabilities, people of colour, LGBT+. All of these people. And that to me is really exciting. I went and chatted to TV commissioners on behalf of Time’s Up to see how commissioning can change and what responsibility they have. It was really encouraging hearing how much they want to change. They’re not just sitting there making excuses. I do feel that things are changing both bottom up and top down.

What does being part of Equity mean to you?

I do think that unions are really important. The more people that are members, the more powerful we will be. It is incredibly reassuring to know that we are not alone in dealing with any potential issues that might come up and that the union has our backs.