Geraldine Viswanathan about subversive 'Miracle Workers: Dark Ages' casting actors of color in a period comedy

Viswanathan feels actors of color have never had it better and that it has become easier to get auditions and acting roles. "I am really grateful for being in the industry at this current time where it has just opened up so much," she tells MEA WorldWide (MEAWW)


                            Geraldine Viswanathan about subversive 'Miracle Workers: Dark Ages' casting actors of color in a period comedy
Poster for 'Miracle Workers: Dark Ages' (TBS)

Geraldine Viswanathan, an Australian actor of Indian origin first came to the attention of American audiences in her breakout role as Kayla in the 2018 film 'Blockers'. Since then, she has been on a roll,  scoring roles in films and of course, the delightful comedy anthology series, 'Miracle Workers'.

The second season, 'Miracle Workers: Dark Ages', which premieres next week, takes its cue from legendary comedy skits like the Monty Python sketches and the 'Blackadder' series and is set in a medieval town.

Viswanathan, who played Eliza Hunter, an employee in Heaven, in the first season, is now Alexandra Shitshoveler, who Prince Chauncley (Daniel Radcliffe) fancies. Her father is Eddie Shitshoveler, a part essayed by Steve Buscemi. 

Viswanathan, in an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), spoke about how Simon Rich, the creator of 'Miracle Workers', subverts expectations of how people of color are usually cast. "I have always wanted to do a period piece but I was always frustrated because there were never any people of color in period pieces. So I really liked the way that [creator] Simon [Rich] approached this. I thought that it was really cool."

She laughed saying, "there was really no attempt at historical accuracy. It is just meant to be fun and there is a lot of contemporary issues [being discussed] with the Dark Ages as the setting. So explaining it [characters who aren't Caucasian] isn't really relevant. It is bigger than that. So I thought that was really exciting and cool."

She added, "I mean Karan and I are both Indians and in both seasons [of Miracle Workers], we've never had to be brother and sister or play relatives and I think that is really rare to come by. That is something I love about this show." 

In the current moment, even though there is a controversy raging about #OscarSoWhite, Viswanathan feels actors of color have never had it better. "I definitely feel it has become easier. Awards are a whole different game and I am not even really that interested in awards. But the opportunities... what I'm noticing is that people of color are being given opportunities at the moment. And I think that is really exciting and I am really grateful for being in the industry at this current time where it has just opened up so much."

She praises 'Miracle Workers' for hiring a diverse cast of actors. "I mean, our show [Miracle Workers] is such a great example. It is incredibly diverse and it just becoming the norm [in the industry], I hope. So I feel grateful for that in terms of actual opportunities and things that are being made. But, I mean, for awards and recognition, there is probably still some way to go." 

A more inclusive industry means that Viswanathan has scored some pretty meaty roles that audiences will soon see her in. "I have a film called 'Bad Education' that I did with Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney, that is coming out on HBO soon. Then, I have 'The Broken Heart Gallery', which is a romantic comedy that will hopefully come out this year too -- but we don't know where or when," she said.

Till then, we can watch what she gets up to as the ambitious and smart Alexandra, who dreams of doing more than just shovel s**t all her life.

'Miracle Worker: Dark Ages' premieres on January 28 at 9:30c on TBS.

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