Parminder Nagra has said that she was rejected from a “well-known” TV programme in the US due to her Indian heritage.
The British-Asian actress, who’s starred in Bend It Like Beckham and ER, told BBC Radio 5 Live that the opportunity was turned down because the show “already had an Indian person” cast.
She also told the Celebrity Catch Up podcast while promoting her new sci-fi series Intergalactic that she heard producers on the unnamed production say that “too many brown people” would not sell.
While she acknowledged that diversity in casting is improving (“we’re having the conversations happening more and more and things have moved on”) she added that meritocracy might be at risk.
“My fear is that, which I think was happening a few years ago, it became about, ‘Oh well let’s get this box ticked’,” she said.
Nagra’s comments come a few years after she revealed to Entertainment Weekly that a magazine refused to put her on its cover alongside her Bend It Like Beckham co-star Keira Knightly due to the colour of her skin.
She called those moments “annoying”, “tiring” and “odd”, and said she’s experienced treatment like that throughout her career.
“Do you keep pounding?” she added to the podcast. “There’s moments where you get tired and then there’s people that do keep doing that and then they break another glass ceiling.
“You’ve got Riz Ahmed and Priyanka Chopra – they’ve got deals with networks and stuff like that, and so things have moved on.”
Intergalactic lands tomorrow, April 30, on Sky One and NOW TV.