With immigration being such a focal point of discussion these days, immigrants are often reduced to statistics. The discussions revolve around how they may or may not benefit America, the economy etc. FOBia goes behind those statistics and humanizes the immigrant experience using a comedic device.
Inclusion StatementFOBia shows the rarely seen perspective of immigrants in America. All 4 characters are brown -3 of them women, 2 of them immigrants, 1 of them gay. It's written by an Indian immigrant woman, directed by an Indian American woman leading a mostly brown & femme identifying crew. Representation matters!
About The Project
Introduction – What is FOBia about?
FOBia is a character driven comedy about the various cultural misunderstandings an Indian woman FOB (Fresh Off the Boat) in her 30’s, experiences as she adapts to life in America.
FOBia is a term we created to encompass the various fears immigrants face as they leave everything familiar behind and experience a new land and culture. Kanika Khandayat, or Kay, is a 34 year old Indian immigrant who has grown up in privilege in her home country. Certain events in her life lead her to make the decision to come to America for her MBA in Social Entrepreneurship in an attempt to find herself and make her own path in life. Along with being away from home on her own for the first time and in a completely new country at that, Kay is also significantly older than her classmates. These circumstances set her up for various misunderstandings and challenges as she tries to make her way through the confusion these differences create.
Kay and her Indian FOB neighbor Bina also offer the viewers the perspective of an America as seen from the lens of immigrants. Though both are Indian, Kay and Bina are very different and come from different backgrounds. Because, you know, the imigrant experience is not homogenous (shocking, I know!)
Kay’s roommate, Ashanti O’Sullivan is 24 year old and gay. Ashanti grew up with an African American mom and an Irish dad. She grew up in a predominantly white neighbourhood where she constantly had to prove herself. Though Kay and Ashanti get off to a rough start, they end up becoming great friends. Ashanti helps Kay navigate her new life in America and Kay provides Ashanti a different perspective from the one she is used to.
Inspiration – What inspired this story?
FOBia is (very) loosely autobiographical and is based on our writer, Priya Mohanty's experiences as an immigrant in America. The show is set in a prestigious business school in America. This was a deliberate choice because schools tend to be highly diverse and full of international students. Priya went to Duke University for business school and 40% of the students were international students, many of them, fresh off the boat, like her. We hope that FOBia can become a platform that we can share with immigrants from other countries. We want to be able to highlight the fact that every immigrants journey is different and we need to stop homogenizing this experience.
Importance – Why this story now?
FOBia is an unapologetically femme centric, immigrant story with a perspective that is not usually shared in American media. While the show is a comedy, it will be an intelligent, nuanced discussion on various social issues including cultural appropriation, racial and ethnic identities, issues faced by immigrants including DALCA (not DACA. If you’ve never heard about DALCA before – that’s the point of the show.) With immigration becoming an increasingly divisive topic in America, it is time to give the immigrant community a voice.
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About This Team
Priya Mohanty (Writer/Producer/Kay) came to America for her MBA at Duke University in 2008 and was working a corporate job when a series of fortunate events led her to acting in 2015. She promptly quit her paycheck to pursue this passion (alliteration!) Priya is a proud graduate of the ACADEMY at Black Box as well as School at Steppenwolf. Her most recent credits include ‘Gender Breakdown’ at Collaboraction, the Jeff recommended production of ‘Pillars of the Community’ at Strawdog Theatre and the Jeff nominated world premier of ‘Queen’ at Victory Gardens Theatre. Priya was also nominated for ‘Best Actress’ for ‘Queen’ by BroadwayWorld. Her most recent TV credit is on 'Chicago Med'. www.priyamohanty.com
Reshmi Hazra Rustebakke (Director) is a multi-faceted filmmaker and theater maker. She has her BFA from New York University, Playwrights Horizons Theatre School. During her time in New York, she received the Robert Moss Directing Fellow at Playwrights Horizons Theatre, as well as the Artist of Color Fellowship at New York Theatre Workshop. She works creatively developing new work, but also directing, producing, and production managing many kinds of shoots and plays. She has worked at The Vineyard, Playwrights Horizons Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, TimeLine Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Free Street, and many more. She has worked with Anne Kauffman, Lisa Portes, Dexter Bullard, and Les Waters. By day she works in commercial production, but her free time is devoted to narrative driven content. She is the co-director of critically acclaimed BRUJOS, as well as Geeta's Guide to Moving on, The Haven, Ethel and Agnes, and several more projects in development. She is a company member with 2ndStory and develops work as a storyteller, curator, and director.
Jana McLain (Director of Photography) is a cinematographer in the Chicago area. She is trained in both film and digital mediums. Hailing from Las Vegas, Jana grew up on the potent blend of horror films, dance, and fine art. She enjoys using her variety of influences to create bold, dynamic content that is as engaging and unique as she is.
Alex Dauphin (Ashanti) is beyond thrilled to join the cast of FOBia. As the daughter of
two Haitian immigrants who frequently travels between the countries, Alex knows all too
well the ups and downs that come with transnational identity and is so happy this story
is being told. Theatre credits include: The Light (The New Colony, performing u/s),
Clearing (Commission Theatre), Othello (Invictus Theatre), The Pulse Project
(Steppenwolf LookOut), An Octoroon (Definition Theatre Company, u/s), and For the
Love Of (Pride Films & Plays). Alex has also worked with 16th Street Theatre, First
Floor Theatre, Stage Left Theatre, The Second City, and others. TV: Chicago Med. Web
Series: The Haven, Murphy MD PI. Alex is a graduate of The ACADEMY at Black Box
Acting, where she is now an instructor, an alumna of Princeton University, and company
member at Pride Films & Plays. Alex is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent. Thanks
to God, Mom and Arielle for their unending love. www.alexdauphin.com
Madhura Jugade (Bina) hails from the Indian city of Pune, also known as "Oxford of the East" (so she's obviously very smart). She has a BA in Psychology (see? smart. Or at least her mom thinks so) from the University of Pune and an MFA in acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University, Chicago. Madhura has been acting since the age of nine and her acting credits include Borealis at the House Theatre in Chicago (U.s) Twelfth Night, Swimmers, Hedda Gabler, and many such exciting productions at the Theatre School at DePaul University, Chakra (performed in Apostrof '13 in Prague) with Natak Company; along with various works in the Indian theatre, film and
television, and voiceover industries. Her adaptation and directing credits, include Overseasoned and Navas.
Madhura is grateful to be raised by her supportive and determined family in the overwhelming
artistic culture of her hometown; for her patient teachers and mentors, and her incredibly
reliable and brutally honest friends (she has two!). She is proudly represented by Paonessa
Joe Lino (Gabe) is an actor and writer in Chicago. He has worked with Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens, Teatro Vista, Drury Lane, The New Colony, The Cuckoos Theater Project, The Agency Theatre Collective, and Interrobang Theatre Project where he is an artistic associate. Regionally he has credits with Actors Theatre of Louisville in shows such as Dracula, A Christmas Carol, and That High Lonesome Sound, which premiered at the Humana Festival. He has also performed Off-Broadway at the BAM Harvey Theatre in Charles Mee’s world premier of The Glory of the World. He is a proud alumni of Ball State University where he received a BFA in Acting.