The first thing that strikes about Sunny Moza is his stark lack of American accent in his English – “What, how come, after so many years?”, I ask. “That was a conscious decision,” He says, “I speak fluent Hindi, Kashmiri, and Punjabi, and after I moved here, I made sure that my cousins also learned these languages! And I have an Indian English accent which people understand quite well.”
As a teenager, when Sunny Moza moved to the US, he faced similar problems as everyone else in settling down – new food, new people and a new culture. What he remembers is that it wasn’t any ‘isms’ that bothered him as much as carving his space in his interactions with the new society. He laughs as he says, “I think I only figured that out seven or eight years back. It’s more about confidence in who you are and what you want that makes that space for you.”
He works as a program manager and loves his day job as much as he loves the other jobs in his life – being an actor, a stand-up comedian, a radio jockey and an MC (or Emcee). He finds himself in a very fortunate place where he is able to make a living as well as navigate the creative journey at his own terms. He is grateful to his mother for having completed his Master’s degree in Engineering from San Jose University. When he looks back, he feels that he might have been in a very scary place if he had like many others quit his education and had dived into acting. Now that he has a solid backing of education, he says that his approach to acting and life is quite fulfilling.
When asked about the ‘struggle’ to be in a creative field, he says that it is a term directly ‘imported’ from Bombay! He admits that a lot of people there do struggle because they do not know where to begin and have to wait for a while, but he feels that people in Bombay use the term struggle very loosely. “Even if they are getting work, they call themselves strugglers.” He says we must look at our definition of success and struggle before we term ourselves as one thing – if our definition of struggle means anything beneath the success of a Shah Rukh Khan, etc. then that is just having the wrong definition. As long as one is constantly getting work, one is not struggling. Maybe we will get that fame and recognition or maybe we won’t, but what one needs to be grateful for is that work in the field we love is flowing, “I would agree that people who aren’t getting work at all are struggling, but it’s a matter of time, everyone eventually does get work.”
At the same time, Sunny says that he can’t stress enough on the importance of having a supportive family – his mom was always supportive of him and now his wife, too, is not only supportive but also encourages his endeavors in the creative field. He has several late nights and sometimes he is away from home for long stretches of time, but her being there gives him strong emotional support, and that makes all the difference. He also adds that in his recent play there is an intimate scene with a woman actor, and his wife trusts him a lot to enable him to do that scene without too much hesitation. “If there are people at home who are constantly nagging or questioning your liking for this kind of creative work then it becomes that much more difficult for people to break in”, He adds. “I am very fortunate”, he emphasizes, “Also, I negotiated my space with my mother and now my wife. So, I think people should do that with their families, negotiate their space.”
Talking of families, he says that he never ever thought that he would be interacting with so many diverse families and would do it so easily – like Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, etc. along with Punjabi and Urdu! He remembers a recent Pakistani wedding where he was the MC, and he notes that even they were so ‘Bollywoodized’! “We all are actually. Every wedding I MC, however simple it is culturally, now has a Mehendi and a Sangeet! Otherwise, a lot of cultures have very simple weddings.”
“What about mainstream Hollywood?”, I ask. “Well, I have been told that I don’t look Indian enough, not brown enough I guess. Well, I still have other work so I am happy. That will happen when it has to.” Currently, he is working on a play titled IDEATION. He has also produced a feature film and is acting in a Kannada feature film, BABRU, which is all set to release this year.
Having shared a lot, he adds, “I have one more thing to say, my wife is so supportive and creative that she has named our dog Leone! So, we complete each other – I am Sunny and my dog, Leone!” 🙂
We wish that Sunny keeps his amazing attitude, his humour and his dreams alive and kicking always! Wishing him the best in all his endeavours. If you would like to know more about him, you can check his website.