June 2007. Los Angeles. NYU actor and USC broadcast journalist meet. They dine together. Smoke hookah. Shop on Melrose. Try Pinkberry. Have deep conversation.
March 2010. Los Angeles/New York. Actor is a series regular on Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie.” Broadcast Journalist is figuring out the next move, meanwhile maintaining a blog called Khanversations. The two g-chat and talk on the phone.
OK enough with the vague statement making. The actor? Arjun Gupta. The broadcast journalist? Um. Me.
This is one of the few “Khanversations” I’m sharing with someone who I actually have an established relationship with (he’s old school family friends with my BFF Priya… you may remember her from the Chris Brown post.) Ya see, usually these posts come from 5-min to hour-long encounters with people I’ve never met before. But I thought I’d mix it up because I can.
I chatted with Arjun the day that season 2 of Nurse Jackie premiered (yesterday.) Last season, he had a guest role, but the execs loved him and brought him back (personal note: Arjun does have this charm about him… I mean, he won Uma Thurman over in the film “Motherhood” so naturally he’d win over others too…. OK fine his character won Uma over…but STILL! No one could have done it better.)
Anyway. Arjun plays a newly-sober nurse named Sam. Last name? Ayem. Yes. It’s pronounced like “Sam-I-Am.” OK not really. BUT! His “nurse badge” on the show says “Sam Ayem” (those people in the prop department sure are clever.) The writers have yet to give him a last name.
So yeah. He plays a nurse. In real life, his dad’s a doctor. When he got the role, he told his parents “Yo, this is the closest I’ll ever be to a doctor so enjoy it!” (I’m not really sure if he used the term “yo” with mom and dad, but… that’s how he told me the story and well as a journalist, I don’t wanna misquote.)
No but in all seriousness, despite being Indian, Arjun has a super supportive parents…heck, his mom is even an actor! OK OK…maybe not an “actor” but… she and Arjun’s grandmother did get to be “extras” when they visited Arjun on the set of “Nurse Jackie” (now it’s up to the editors to decide whether they make the show, and well…get Arjun’s mom and grandma their first IMDB credits.)
And the fun facts don’t stop there…
- He’s preparing to file his taxes. Naturally, we discuss the things you can deduct as “on-air talent.”- Write off your metro pass because you need a way to get to auditions. Write off cable bills because well…watching TV counts as “research.” And if you really feel like admitting it, write off your gym membership because maintaining looks is important to the industry.
- “Fame.” OK so despite walking red carpets and photographers yelling “Arjun, over here,” and being interviewed by outlets like TV Guide, he’s not there yet. As he puts it, “If you have to tell people I’m famous, I’m not famous.” However, he does get recognized occasionally from his “Motherhood” role and from the last season of “Nurse Jackie,” but nothing major…yet. The girls aren’t flocking because he’s “not Robert Pattinson” (his quote, not mine.) I’ll ask him again in a month and let you know if things have changed. (Side note: I’m taking all his red carpet training credit. We did mock interviews months ago over the phone. Practicing the perfection of the soundbite. You editors/producers owe me.)
- He’s a Florida boy at heart. So yeah, he may be a NY actor, but he can’t stand the cold. After six winters “it’s still a beast” and “you never get used to that shit.” I tried to convince him to move to LA, but…well, he made it clear that’s not happening – bicoastal maybe, but he says he’ll always have a home in NYC.
- Our relationship. It’s funny. I hit him up everytime I’m in NYC. Problem? I usually give him like, a 3-hour notice, and I’m usually only in town for like, a day. So we never see eachother. Alas, we must hang on to the memories of years past.
- Speaking of distant memories…back in 2007 when we went shopping on Melrose, we stopped by the shop Wasteland and I pretty much made him buy this hat. One, because I’m obsessed with hats, and two because it was a Bob Marley hat. Fun fact: I was obsessed with Bob Marley songs and would sing them around the house when I was four. Yep. “Buffalo Soldier” (didn’t get it,) “I Shot the Sheriff” (I had no idea why someone would brag about that,) and “No Woman, No Cry” (even at four, I knew what that meant.) Anyway… Arjun, too, is a huge Marley fan. Faves? “Three Little Birds” and “One Love.”
- His inner doctor. So his cousin is working with the CDC in Uganda, doing AIDS prevention/treatment, and Arjun wants to go out there sometime to visit/help out… especially to work with children.
- His view on nurses. He was watching “Meet the Parents” recently, and well, if you haven’t seen it, in the film Ben Stiller gets ridiculed (called gay) for being a male nurse. Arjun’s response? “Are you kidding me?!” Preparing for the role, Arjun shadowed a couple of nurses, and learned how tough it really is, and what great people nurses are. Arjun says he couldn’t do it on a day-to-day basis (only on the small screen for him) but… that he’d love to have a nurse like Jackie.
- And because we chatted during an oh-so-historic time in healthcare and well, since he “works” as a nurse, I had to get his thoughts on the new law. Arjun is a huge proponent of health care reform, because there are so many uninsured people…especially children. As Arjun puts it, “It’s not a perfect system, but there’s no system that’s perfect.”
PS. Just because I know you can’t get enough Arjun… check out Arjun Gupta in Dec 2009 issue of TV Guide and this recent interview with Crushable (I’m guessing they feature people worthy of having crushes on? Stalkers…please submit me for consideration.)
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