Spoiler Alert! If you’ve been faithfully watching The Walking Dead, you already know Sunkrish Bala. He plays Dr. Caleb Subramanian, one of the newbies from Woodbury who joins the prison group at the end of Season 3. When Bala appeared on Walking Dead this past Sunday, his fans included actress Janina Gavankar (True Blood, The League).
Now here we are, in the middle of a disease outbreak. Enter the good doctor. Will he stay alive for another episode or will Dr. Subramanian succumb to the mysterious disease infecting the residents at the prison? Or perhaps be torn apart a la zombie? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about the actor behind the role.
You’ve Seen Him on TV Before:
Throughout his career, Bala has played a number of roles on a variety of television shows– everything from a patient with an erection that won’t go away on Grey’s Anatomy to a father-to-be on Notes from the Underbelly to a bodega owner on MTV’s I Just Want My Pants Back. At 29, Bala’s extensive credit list began when he was just an undergrad. He was auditioning for roles even during his days at UCLA, bypassing the school’s strict no-audition rule. You can find a demo reel of Bala’s roles below. You’ll notice sometimes the earlier roles show Bala with an Indian accent. He’s since discarded the affected act. He explains why in an interview with an L.A. magazine:
“I’ve had to turn down a lot of roles. That’s of course much easier to do now, but when you’re just starting out and you can’t afford rent, it’s heartbreaking to have to say “no” to any acting work. Looking back, I’m so glad I’ve steered clear from those kinds of parts—the cab driver or the convenience store guy with the funny accent. I can sleep at night, you know?”
Kal Penn Inspired Him
The actor counts Kal Penn as a major influence on his career. The pair met while Bala was passing out passing out flyers for Bala’s theatre company he started when he was a senior in high school. In the exchange, Bala says Penn, seven years his senior, told him, “You don’t want to be an engineer; you obviously love this and you’ve been doing this all your life.”Bala told AA Risings that his acting career really began once he met Penn.
It’s definitely something I had always done. I’d been doing community theater as long as I can remember, but I never considered it a viable career option. Growing up in the Silicon Valley during the tech boom of the 90s, where academia and the hard sciences were valued over everything else, it never really crossed my mind that I could pursue a career as an actor. It wasn’t until I started applying to colleges as a senior in high school that I met Kal Penn (of Harold and Kumar fame). He helped me realize that my passion for the craft wasn’t just as a “hobby.” I wanted to do it for real.
And now he’s doing it for real. Good luck in the zombie apocalypse, Dr. S!