If you, like me, spent entirely too many hours this past weekend holed up indoors binge-watching the latest season of House of Cards, you probably came across a familiar face in Episode 1 (small spoiler for the first episode ahead). Poorna Jagannathan plays a doctor overseeing Doug’s rehab and recovery. As we were watching the episode, my brother and I couldn’t wrap our heads around where we’d seen her before, and thus, the Google adventure began.
— Poorna Jagannathan (@PoornaJags) February 27, 2015
She plays badass Bollywood characters.
In 2013, Jagannathan played Riyana in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, which also starred Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. She was the host of the travel show Ranbir’s character was the cameraman for, and who eventually encourages him to follow his career dreams. More impressive than that, in 2011, she played Meneka in the Imran Khan-Vir Das starrer, Delhi Belly. She won critical acclaim (and a couple of awards, no big deal) for so aptly portraying the fearless tenacity of her character in what was a bold movie by Indian cinema standards. Jagannathan has also appeared in several tv shows including Royal Pains and Law & Order.
She’s the initiator and producer of Nirbhaya: The Play
The tragic and horrific gang rape of a young woman in Delhi in 2012 sparked a worldwide conversation about sexual violence, and particularly, India’s lack of legal protection for rape victims. Nirbhaya (“Fearless”) was the name given to the victim by the Indian media, and inspired this play that weaves together personal narratives of gender-based violence. Nirbhaya: The Play is premiering in the US later this Spring.
She is starring in the upcoming HBO miniseries Crime.
Based on the UK series of the same name, Jagannathan will star alongside Riz Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) in a show about a Pakistani man accused of murdering a girl in NYC (but he can’t remember it!). I’m sold.
She has a degree in journalism.
Poorna graduated with a B.A. in Journalism (with a minor in Theater) from the University of Maryland, College Park, before moving to NYC to pursue acting.
She has transnational roots.
Jagannathan was born in Tunisia, but grew up in Pakistan, Ireland, Brazil and Argentina. According to her website, she speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and Hindi, alongside a medium fluency in Tamil.
She is vegetarian — and a brand ambassador for PETA in India.
She was voted one of India’s Top 50 most influential women by Verve magazine.
She was also ranked among India’s top 10 most beautiful women by Femina magazine, was voted as one of the Most Fashionable Woman in 2013 by Cosmopolitan India, and Vogue India included her in their Best Dressed list for 2013.
— Poorna Jagannathan (@PoornaJags) June 24, 2014
She cannot stand Chetan Bhagat’s writing.
This is not surprising since she, you know, has a brain, but still — it’s refreshing to be reminded that Chetan Bhagat only has very little appeal anywhere but India.
She binge listened to Serial, just like the rest of us.
— Poorna Jagannathan (@PoornaJags) December 3, 2014
And best of all, she has the most delightful URL for her website.
The most wonderful surprise in all my Google-ing was finding out that Jagannathan’s website is www.poornagraphy.com. How can I sign up to be friends with this amazing woman?
* * *
Born and raised in California, Priya Arora has found a home in New York where she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in counseling psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Follow her on Twitter at @thepriyaarora.