Watching Parvesh Cheena score laughs as cherubic yet goofy call center worker Gupta on NBC's "Outsourced," it's hard to believe the actor originally was asked to audition for Manmeet, the character now played by Sacha Dhawan.
"Manmeet was right for me in terms of age," Cheena explains, "but when I read Gupta, I thought, 'I've got him written all over me.' I knew I could tap into that nerdy yet sweet but annoying thing. He was described as having 'needy eyes,' and I had my version of what I think of as a puppy-dog face. Unfortunately, it tends to creep people out."
Growing up in a Chicago suburb, Cheena caught the acting bug early, while playing King George III in a grade-school play. "I wore a cape and crown and sneered and talked in whatever a 10-year-old version of me thought a British accent was," he recalls. "When I heard the applause, I thought, 'Yes, I like this.' "
He says he understands why some people were taken aback last fall when NBC announced it was scheduling a comedy series about U.S. jobs being sent overseas, and he knows that anyone whose life has been affected by outsourcing may never become a fan of his show.
"It was interesting to get some of that anger directed at the show, because it's gotten to the point where if a corporation on a global scale doesn't outsource some labor, it's viewed as a very antiquated business practice," he points out. "This has been happening now for more than a decade."
He's also dumbfounded at suggestions that "Outsourced" is racist. "I haven't heard from a single Indian person, directly or secondhand, who has a problem with any of the jokes on our show, because not every Indian is cool, smart, hip and hot."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times