Parminder Nagra rose to fame two decades ago after starring in Bend It Like Beckham.
At the time, the 26-year-old actress was playing soccer because she was in love with Jess Bhamra, a teenage girl who defended her conservative parents forbidding her from playing the beautiful game.
Breaking the rules, the low-budget film grossed a staggering £60 million at the box office and is the highest-grossing football-focused sports film.
Nagra said after its release: “It stunned me with how the movie was doing and how people were reacting to it. “In London, there was an article about all these girls bending like Beckham, and in India there was a huge wave of girls playing football.
Parminder was left feeling indifferent to football when she auditioned and underwent a 10-week intensive training session to improve her skills.
The cast went through nine-hour training sessions a day and the actress learned to bend the ball in the air to replicate David Beckham’s free kick.
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She became the first woman to win the FIFA Presidential Award, met the former England captain, then landed the role of Neela Rasgotra in the American medical drama series ER.
The hit show ER, which has turned stars like George Clooney and Julianna Margulies into big names, will be where she stays until the series ends in 2009.
Speaking of his career and meeting Becks and his wife Victoria, Parminder said: “He loved the movie and she said: ‘You’re all so funny in it.” So I went from there to being asked a year later – by George Clooney – if I wanted to play a doctor in the ER.
“That’s undisputed. A small Asian girl from Leicester should never have made it to Hollywood.
“I live in the Hollywood Hills and come to work every day at Warner Bros Studios and meet A-listers.
Although Parminder insists Hollywood hasn’t changed her, the first thing she does when she arrives is buys chapati and lentils.
After ER ended in 2009, the actress starred in the Fox sci-fi series Alcatraz before playing a CIA agent in the first season of the NBC crime series The Blacklist and appearing in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.
Most recently, she appeared in the Sky Atlantic thriller Fortitude and as a school counselor on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
Away from her acting career, Parminder married photographer James Stenson in January 2009 – with a friend and former ER co-star Maura Tierney officiating.
In May of that year, she gave birth to their son, Kai David Singh Stenson, but her marriage ended in a bitter divorce that was ended in July 2013.
Still living in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Laurel Canyon with his son, Parminder has described LA as truly “not as polished.”
“I’m doing the same thing I would if I were in the UK,” said the actress, who makes the most of the LA outdoor lifestyle and keeps fit by hiking.
She has a good supportive network of friends, including British actors, Spooks star Lara Pulver and husband Raza Jaffrey.
In 2018, she was cast as a doctor in the Netflix series Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, which required her to play the character with an Indian accent.
“I’m not thrilled to be playing the doctor again,” Parminder said. “But it’s a great work with a great director, and that’s Sandra Bullock. I’d rather not do it. It’s hard.
“There are times when the doctor role comes up, and you want to say no, but you want to work.”
Speaking to The Mirror one last time, Parminder recalled an incident where her agent offered her a role and the response was “they had an Indian in the cast”.
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Parminder added: “I said, ‘Yes, but I’m completely different from that person. What happens when you say, “No, we’ve got a white guy on the show”? “
She also talked about how she wasn’t allowed to appear alongside Bend It Like Beckham co-star Keira Knightly on the cover of a magazine during the movie’s promotion, because the bosses refused to put her on the page. cover because of her color. skin.
She said, “I’ve been in rooms where people have gone, ‘Oh it’s not going to sell because there’s just too many brown people in there,’ and you go, ‘Oh. Okay “.”
“Do you keep pounding? There are moments where you get tired and then there are people who keep doing it and then they break another glass ceiling.
“You have Riz Ahmed and Priyanka Chopra – they have deals with the network and things like that, and so things went on.
“But, yes, it’s a story for books and there are lots of little stories like that.”
Parminder has now been cast in the lead role in the new ITV drama DI Ray, a four-part series that airs this Monday through Thursday.
Produced by Jed Mercurio, the series features police officer Rachita Ray taking on a case that forces her to face a lifelong personal conflict between her British identity and her South Asian heritage.
After finally getting a promotion, Rachita’s heart sinks when he suspects she’s an ‘unexpected person’, chosen for her race rather than her abilities, then realizes that she’s buried buried a personal identity crisis throughout his life.
Appreciating her character, Parminder said: “Rachita is a really good character, a lot of meat and for me it’s all about finding this woman’s place in the world.
“You don’t often get Asian female leads on TV – that’s starting to happen more, but having been in the profession for so long, I feel like I’ve been saying the same thing for a long time.
“I can see the change with guys like Bridgerton, but at DI Ray this is my generation of women, we’re in Birmingham and it’s understandable – it’s great to play.
“That’s the main draw for me that I’m not playing someone’s best friend or a supporting character, it’s all about Rachita.
“One day, I want to play a character who doesn’t think about her identity – Bend It Like Beckham also talks about her identity. But those parts are really hard to come out or don’t get done often. often.
“DI Ray is so well written, Rachita’s interactions with people are really great and I love playing a strong 40-year-old woman on the show, being led by these people and telling this story.”
* DI Ray airs this Monday to Thursday on ITV at 9pm
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/di-ray-star-parminder-nagras-26847997 DI star Ray Parminder Nagra's life after Bend It Like Beckham - bitter breakup and new role