The Sex Lives of College Girls—the hit HBO Max original series created by Mindy Kaling, which was just renewed for a second season—reads like a nuanced episodic treatise on the pangs of maturation in the highly specific landscape of post-secondary education. In this veritable playground of hard-partying, late-night study sessions, and dormitory living, young adults are tasked with uncovering and forming their individuality in order to help forge their own ascent into adulthood.
Amrit Kaur, a former theatre student starring in her first leading role, knows the difficulties of dealing with insecurities whilst trailblazing a unique path forward first hand in the college environment. S/ recently spoke with the Kaur about the illuminating elements of female camaraderie, what she learned from the oftentimes cathartic escapades of her character Bela, and tackling comedy with aplomb.
What initially drew you to the role of Bela?
“I love that Bela is an outspoken, bold woman with big aspirations. I love her sense of humour, her vulnerabilities, her intelligence. I’ve always dreamt of working with Mindy Kaling, who is a trailblazer in the industry, and this was a huge opportunity to learn from her.”
Is there anything you have learned personally from portraying your character throughout the season? Has her worldview illuminated yours in any way?
“There are moments where Bela is the dream for me, moments where we align and others where I completely disagree with her choices. She’s loud and much braver than I am. I’ve learned so many things from her: having confidence in my humour, expressing myself through fashion, being big and bold. She has taught me to have a greater sense of humour about the world.
“I also started stand-up comedy as research for Bela! In many ways, everything in our humanity is funny. Some of my scene-partners are real life stand-up comedians and I continuously learned from them while shooting, including Sherri Shepherd, who plays Whitney’s mother. She’s a brilliant comic and invited me to her stand-up shows throughout shooting so I could sit and learn. This rookie is catching up to Bela’s badass humour!”
How do you feel this series nuances the experiences of young women in the formative college environment?
“All the characters on the show have insecurities that fuel the decisions they make, including Bela, whose insecurities are really driving her choices. I know this from my own personal experience in university. All my doubts while I was in theatre school made me act, dress, and think a certain way. That’s a revealing human motivation, and the show explores that beautifully.
“College and university are also, in many ways, the first time young adults are tasked to face the real world. All the characters in the show are in a new environment, meeting people from different walks of life with different flaws and attributes, such as people who are racist, patriarchal, or misogynistic. They are facing many adult situations they haven’t before and the nuances that comes from leaving your parents and facing the world alone.
“We also see the friendships and bonds that you can form in those years; it’s one of the main explorations in the show. The characters are learning to come into themselves, just like young women in real life. They’re learning who they’re drawn to in their friendships. I met some of my closest friends in university, so I know how formative that time was in creating life-long female bonds.”
As a newcomer to show business, how do you feel that your experience within this series have prepared you for future roles within the entertainment industry? Are there any other facets of television production that you would like to explore further?
“The learning was exponential. This was my first time being a lead on a major set and I learned so much about my approach and process that I will take with me throughout the rest of my career. I saw that every person on set is integral to the story.
“It was hard and I like hard work, I revel in the challenge. I found the importance of forming my own individual process amongst so many talented people with their own unique approach to acting. I have continued to study my craft while on set and will continue to do so. I run lines religiously for freedom in the moment alongside other necessary preparatory work.
“I love storytelling. Acting will always be my first love, but I also love writing and directing and now, comedy. There’s so much I’m curious about and I’m in awe of the art as a whole.”