Sunday, December 14, 2008

City Life

Follow Your Dreams
By Tiffany Sims

Shortly after 11 a.m., a man, slightly hung over, and with more than a 5 o’clock shadow, wakes up in his partially sunlit 10 x 12 foot room in a duplex apartment that he shares with three other roommates that he doesn’t really know. He instantly reaches for his laptop, turns it on and immediately checks his email to see if he’s received notice from his casting agency about an audition for a commercial or film. He is Vedant Gokhale and he is an actor.

The night before, Gokhale was out with his older brother, who was in town from California for the Thanksgiving holiday. They had a fun night of Christmas shopping, eating burgers at their favorite restaurant, drinking at a nearby bar, eating more food at an Indian restaurant, more drinks and then pizza to top off the night.

This behavior is not uncommon for Gokhale, who doesn’t have much responsibility in the daytime since he is currently not working. But like most actors, Gokhale is very conscious of his weight. He goes to the gym regularly, especially after a night like the one just described, to try to work off the pounds he may have packed on from drinking and eating too much.

Vedant Gokhale is pursuing his
dream of an acting career.

Gokhale is driven to succeed in becoming an actor, but lately, it’s been pretty slow in the acting world. He hasn’t acted in anything in the past few months and auditions have become a bit scarce. It doesn’t help that the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) has been in negotiations over contracts since April and threaten to strike before the New Year.

SAG members may not work on non-union production. But because of the anticipated strike, SAG members like Gokhale would not be allowed to work. This is bad news for Gokhale who became a SAG member earlier this year. All of the above being said, he is still immensely happy that he is able to pursue his dream, with the support of his family, given the route he took.

“Dreams are meant to be pursued. It’s not always easy or possible, but when the opportunity arrives they should be taken,” says Gokhale.

Vedant Arvind Gokhale, born October 15, 1977 in New Jersey, has two older brothers, Kedar and Mandaar, who are both physicians. Gokhale’s brothers are at least 10 years older than he is because he was not a planned pregnancy. In fact, his mother hid the pregnancy from his father because she really wanted a daughter.

Gokhale’s mother worked for Pan American Airlines and the perks of being an employee allowed her and her family members to fly free, or get great deals on plane tickets to anywhere. Because of this, Gokhale became a world traveler at a young age. He even has memories of spending nights in the Frankfurt, Germany airport on the way to India.

“We would barely get any sleep because of the old departure and arrival screens. They would make lots of noise,” Gokhale says. “Instead we would go to a McDonald's in the airport, which at that time was a novelty in a foreign country.”

Gokhale grew up in the small northern New Jersey town of Emerson. It was a predominantly white borough but he said he adjusted quite well. He was popular and made lots of friends at school, some of which he is still friends with today. Gokhale was even part of a band that he and his friends created in which he sung vocals.

“You know, the usual early 90’s grunge cover high school band,” he says. But it was just a fun activity they did to pass the time.

In 1995, Gokhale graduated from high school and started attending Rutgers University. He was unsure what he wanted to major in, but ended up graduating with a degree in public health. After graduation, Gokhale decided he would go to law school. As a child he used to say, “Someone has to help my brothers when they become doctors.”

This, of course, wasn’t a good enough justification for that. But his parents were willing to pay for law school. And he always thought that a law degree could be used for anything. But it was during the first year of law school when he realized what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to be an actor.

Gokhale moved in with his family at one point to save move to
pursue his acting career.

Gokhale began taking acting classes at various acting studios while juggling his classes at the New York Law School. Soon after graduating in 2002, he started working for the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). He stopped pursuing acting for a year to focus on studying for the New York State Bar. He passed it on the second try in February 2003 and soon after began pursuing acting again. He quickly got roles in several Off-Off-Broadway plays, including “How I Killed My Roommate and Got Away With It,” and an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice with an all South Asian cast.

Leaving work during the day to attend auditions was affecting Gokhale’s work and his boss began to notice. After meeting with his boss, they decided that it was best for him to leave the job and pursue his passion.

“ In hindsight, that was the right decision to make because I didn’t really want to practice law and wanted to try my luck in pursuing my dream of becoming an actor,” says Gokhale.

In January 2006, Gokhale moved back in with his parents in an effort to save money. He quickly secured a job as a contract attorney, which is like a temporary lawyer and started commuting to the city. All the while he was able to audition, perform in plays and form a sketch comedy group. “Here is where I felt I began to form my own identity,” he says.

By the end of the year, he got a commercial agent and began freelancing with theatrical agents. In year two of his experiment to pursue his dream, Gokhale began booking roles on television including, “Cashmere Mafia” with Lucy Lieu, and in feature films, such as “Body of Lies” with Russell Crowe and Leonardo Dicaprio. He also performed in a showcase sponsored by ABC for emerging diverse actors.

Today he has ventured into the world of stand-up comedy and continues to audition for television, film and theater. “Happiness is the most important thing in the world to me,” Gokhale says.

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