Interview: Award-Winning Actor SHAHEED K WOODS on Rohit Gupta's "Life! Camera Action ..." : "Acting is Freedom"

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Shaheed K WoodsWashington, DC, June 19, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) In a recent interview with Gurjeet Singh of WBRi, the award winning actor Shaheed K Woods, who plays the role of Mike in the globe-trotting, awards sweeper feature film “LIFE! CAMERA, ACTION…”, produced and directed by Rohit Gupta, we learn of his passion for film, his experience on set and his take on the craft of acting.

He is one of the most memorable characters from the film and is talked about often among it’s audience. Shaheed won the Best Supporting actor award (his first) at the 28th Goldie Film Awards 2012 held in the US, where the film walked away with top 9 most popular and special board of directors award.

A simple and quick yes to be part on this film will change his destiny and put him on the global map, is far from what he ever imagined while working on this film. Sounds like a fairy tale, but real in every sense.

Indian American Indie Movie Actors Shaheed K Woods Dipti Mehta Jyoti Singh
Shahid Woods, Dipti Mehta and Jyoti Singh at a press conference in Jersey City, NJ

Shaheed K Woods was born in Jersey city New Jersey. He grew up loving films and this passion has been evident in his performance on screen. At the young age of 7 years old, Shaheed decided to take on the vocation of acting. One film had a very large impact on this choice, “The Last Dragon”.  This film had an enormous impact on his style of acting as well, “ Telling a story that was truthful to me was something I really wanted to do, so I decided to do it through the medium of acting” Shaheed proudly exclaims. Becoming a stand-up comic was he decided as an adult, yet the ability to bring laughter to the people around him is also something that started in childhood. When asked why he chose stand-up, Shaheed told us “I really enjoy making people laugh… So I figured why not use this gift to further me in my career”. Shaheed has performed on the New York comedy circuit and has not lost his ability to make people laugh.

Trailer: Life! Camera Action ... - A Film by Rohit Gupta

When asked how he connects to his character ‘Mike’ in LIFE! CAMERA ACTION… “I connect in many ways”; he informed us that his childhood nickname, a name he is still called today, is also Mike. Mike reminds him of the friendships he has forged in his life. “Mike is an appreciator of people, and he is very business oriented… That is one of the things I share with him” Shaheed says proudly. One of his favorite scenes is with him and the film’s star, Dipti Mehta (aka Reina), strategizing in a park about the direction that they will tackle.  Unlike most actors, Shaheed has not received any formal training. In giving such a landmark performance in this film, we asked if anyone could be an actor or if it is a gift you are born with. “Acting is freedom, in my humble opinion; I think it can be done by anyone…That’s all it really takes to be a talented actor… Acting is Reacting”, Shaheed says.

We asked him if acting is his full-time career and we learned that he “dabbles” in quite a few other areas of film and stage. “Acting is my full time career, but I dabble in writing, directing and photography. He is a co-founder of a production company 13 Eight Productions along with his friend Marcell Haywood. 13 Eight Productions has several projects in development, he credits Rohit for his inspiration to get into production. Among many others, it seems Rohit’s style has also been an inspiration to the film’s star Dipti Mehta, to dabble in production of her own first short film YAATRA to be completed this summer. Two of the Shaheed’s projects we can look out for are, ‘A Writer’s Journey’, ‘The Inspiration series’ and various other endeavors.13 Eight has produced and directed several projects for screen and stage and have partnered up with activist IV Valentine and is currently handling the marketing for Afro-Pinup.  Shaheed is a talented actor with a gift the world seems to love; this is what helped form the relationship between him and his cast mates of LIFE! CAMERA ACTION...

Indian American Indie Movie Actors Shaheed K Woods Dipti Mehta
Shaheed Woods and Dipti Mehta at a screening of  Life! Camera Action... in New Jersey

We asked how he and Rohit Gupta met. While working with a film on which Rohit was the Dir Of Photography; He was approached by him in regards to working on LIFE! CAMERA ACTION…. Shaheed happily agreed and the rest is history. Shaheed expressed a deep respect for Rohit’s style of directing and the upbeat mood of the set. He said that working on this film was much more than enjoyable and that it never felt like work. “Rohit made everyone on set feel like a family” Shaheed exclaims to us. After stepping into the movie world, we asked Shaheed of his next acting project. “I am currently working on a bollywood film” but he was unable to disclose much information. “I can’t say too much but I can guarantee you that it will be an enjoyable experience” was his response. Shaheed has become a loveable character in LIFE! CAMERA ACTION… and has been well received by every audience that has seen him.

Actor Shaheed K Woods Cinematographer Ravi Kumar Ram
Shaheed Woods and DoP Ravi Kumar Ram at shooting of Life! Camera Action...

LIFE! CAMERA ACTION… is a timeless classical film that narrates a story of a young next door girl Reina (played by New York based, actress Dipti Mehta) in pursuit of her dreams against all odds supported by an award winning inspirational song “Chalte Jaana Hain” (have to keep walking) written by Gupta, music by Manoj Singh and sung by renowned bollywood singer KK. Shaheed plays an integral part in the movie and has been nominated for several awards and even highly spoken about among it’s audience.

Actor Shaheed K Woods
Shaheed K Woods

It has recently come to the notice of the international film community that LCA is the first feature-length film made by an Indian filmmaker shot with a two member crew in the US that has taken the international film festival circuit by storm across the planet. A US based renowned magazine recently named the film as “One of the top 10 Most Outstanding Movies of all time made by Indian born filmmakers in America (till-date)” along-side the masters of the art; M. Night Shyamalan (The SIXTH SENSE, UNBREAKABLE), Mira Nair (NAMESAKE, MISSISSIPPI MASALA) & Deepa Mehta (EARTH, FIRE) among others. We salute the art of movie-making, Rohit and his team for creating such an inspirational phenomenon.

Actor Shaheed K Woods
Shaheed K Woods on sets of Life! Camera Action...

Before signing off, Shaheed informed us that it was a pleasure and an honor to speak with us; we look forward to his future projects and expect great things from 13 Eight productions and Afro-Pinup.

Gurjeet Singh is a Financial Analyst by profession and lives in Germantown, Maryland in the Washington DC metro area. A great enthusiast of Indian-American cultural exchanges, Gurjeet is also an avid  music lover. In her free time she dabs in some water color painting and loves to go on long walks. Gurjeet can be reached at guri070555 [at] yahoo [dot] com.