Mahima Saigal is no underachiever. Born in South Delhi, she followed the footsteps of many a great thespian and moved to New York City to pursue her passions. A self-proclaimed “actress, writer, producer, choreographer, cupcake admirer, and a cheerleader of everything books, Bollywood, Beyonce and SRK” Saigal has made quite the splash in NYC over the past few years. She has appeared in notable productions throughout the city, was nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role by the New York Innovative Awards, and managed, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, to produce ‘As You Are’, a short film that was selected by several film festivals.
While her peers were interested in finance and medicine, Saigal knew from a young age that she wanted to be in theater. Supportive family members and friends encouraged her to move to NYC, a vibrant metropolis that had served as the backdrop for her favorite novels and TV shows throughout her youth. Despite facing the struggles inherent for every young actor, Saigal was able to find opportunities and steadily make a name for herself.
2019 and 2020 were banner years for Saigal. She wrote a full-length play, several short films, and a ten-episode series, all set in New York City. She starred as the lead in ‘Chek and Hava’, directed by Komal Ashfaq and shot her dream commercial facilitated by her brilliant agent John E. Shea of Frontier Booking International.
‘She Said Yes’ was another major accomplishment, shot during the middle of lockdown in NYC. Saigal produced the short for a lockdown inspired filmmaking challenge proposed by Anti-Clock Films, a film production company in India. Under the theme ‘She’, Saigal chose to write about a subject that is close to home: the plight of non-resident aliens on American soil who face uncertainty about losing their status and anxiety about their healthcare, particularly during lockdown.
This brings us to Saigal’s most recent focus: her immigration status. As a foreigner working to make in another country, not to mention the hectic world of NYC theater, she has faced challenges that she never predicted. She has found it more difficult to be chosen for roles over American citizens, and she constantly finds herself in a delicate position of belonging in every way but legally. Although this has been a constant presence in her life since moving to the United States, it has recently come to the forefront of her work. Saigal’s deeper consideration of her own immigration status has led to an exciting new project, ‘Ordinary Alien’, which is slated for production this year.
In the long term, Saigal plans to continue her work in the theater, especially on Broadway. However, she also hopes to work on plays or shows that broaden the narratives of mainstream entertainment and shift the industry’s focus to more inclusive storytelling. There have been incredible strides in terms of inclusivity in the past decade, but Indian and India-American actors are often pigeonholed into stereotypical characters or given minor supporting roles. Inspired by figures like Shonda Rhimes, Phoebe Waller Bridge, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Issa Rae and Ava Duvernay, Saigal hopes to open the door to further discussions of inclusion, immigrant participation, and representation in her field.