Growing up is never an easy task. Yet, being a child actor who is coming to terms with who they are as they portray a character tackling similar growth adds an entirely new dimension to the art of maturing. Roni Akurati, star of Growing Up Smith, shares his experiences with acting at a young age while dishing on his first major film role.
The coming-of-age film tells the story of a 10-year-old boy — Smith — whose overbearing father wants to force his Indian heritage down his throat after the entire family uprooted their lives to reside in America. Likewise, all he wants is to do normal things that kids his age do, including watching Happy Days, playing with his Star Wars toys, and befriending the pretty girl next door. Set in the late 1970s, Smith has to learn how to balance the two vastly different worlds.
With Jason Lee and Hilarie Burton starring alongside the young talent, this heartwarming film is impossible not to like. Keep reading below for our Q&A with Roni and what to expect from this brand-new film.
Growing Up Smith is open within select theaters nationwide.
Celeb Secrets: What can you tell our viewers about your new film Growing Up Smith?
Roni Akurati: “Growing Up Smith is about an Indian family who emigrates to the United States in 1979. It is about how my character, Smith, wants to assimilate into American culture and do American things, while his father wants him to stay Indian. It is also about how Smith has a crush on the girl next door, Amy.”
Celeb Secrets: What was it like working with such a talented cast?
Roni Akurati: “It was amazing working with such talented people, and even more than that, they were very nice and we always had a fun time on set.”
Celeb Secrets: What was your first reaction when you heard the news that you got cast as Smith Bhatnagar?
Roni Akurati: “I was actually in an airport when I got the call, so I was so excited when I heard the news over the phone, but also I was trying not to show my excitement too much because people were looking.”
Celeb Secrets: Your character falls in love with the next door neighbor and starts losing his heritage, what message do you think the film tackles and do you agree with it to a certain extent?
Roni Akurati: “The film is saying that assimilating into a new culture and losing a bit of your heritage can be good. I agree that it is great to learn and assimilate into a new culture, but you should always remember your heritage and keep it with you.”
Celeb Secrets: How is this role different from your other roles, or are they similar in any way? What kind of message does it send to its audience?
Roni Akurati: “This role has been very different from my other roles. I think this film is about the joy and struggles of growing up as an immigrant kid in the 1970s.”
Celeb Secrets: As a 14-year-old, you not only tackle acting, but comedy as well. Are the two interconnected in some way? Is there one you prefer from the other?
Roni Akurati: “I do think the two are connected as acting has a lot of humorous moments. I like acting better. I have been doing it for many years now; it is very fun for me, and I always want to do more.”
Celeb Secrets: Why do you think our readers should check out the film?
Roni Akurati: “I think they will enjoy the film because it is very relatable to almost everyone. It is a feel-good story and people will laugh and cry and overall it is an enjoyable film.”
Celeb Secrets: Since we are Celeb Secrets, can you share a secret (fun fact) about yourself that our readers would not know about you?
Roni Akurati: “One thing that I think a lot of readers may not know about me is that I love reading books. It is one of my favorite things to do when I I have free time.”
Photo: Jason Willheim