Noureen Dewulf interviewed by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) over Skype for The Juice for the February 2015 issue.
American-Indian actress and one of Maxim’s 100 Most Desirable Women on the Planet, Noureen Dewulf, talks about working opposite Charlie Sheen, breaking Hollywood stereotypes and Bollywood plans.
Congratulations on the pregnancy! Has it been tough to juggle the pregnancy along with the last few episode of Anger Management?
Thank you so much! You know, I think you have to find a balance for yourself as a human being so it’s really not been that tough. I really want to be one of those women who has it, all you know. It’s 2014, so I don’t want to give up my acting career because I want a family and I certainly don’t want to give up on having a family just because I am a successful actor. I want everything and I know that I can do everything – I’ve always found a way of making things work. Maybe I’m naïve, but that’s my dream (chuckes).
How do you look back on possibly the biggest gig of your life, Anger Management, as it comes to an end?
I think I’m the same actress but a lot more people know who I am. A lot of people have gotten a chance to see what I’m really good at – being funny. I’ve been working for many years but this was really my first breakout hit. I auditioned against some well-known blonde actresses for Lacey, and I’m proud that I got this on the strength of my abilities as a comedic actress and not because of my ethnicity. So I really hope that it sets me up for something even greater in the future.
It’s amazing how you’ve had a career where your roles have had very little to do with your ethnicity or the colour of your skin. How did you manage that?
I had taken a decision that I’d rather not work for a while than take on stereotypical roles. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing Indian characters. That’s who I am and I’m so proud of my Indian heritage. But I wanted to show the world that somebody can be Indian by birth but all of her characters don’t have to consistently talk about her race. In the beginning it was tough, people would be like, ‘Why does she think she can be ethnic and not play ethnic roles’ (laughs). But I think if you develop a confidence in yourself and your abilities, and work hard and are a good performer, the same people go, ‘Why should be stop her!’
There’s also this thing in Hollywood where they try to categorise you as the ‘hot actress’.
(Laughs) Yeah, there’ve been times where I’ve had to downplay that a lot but I think, sometimes, it helps a little bit so I’m happy to use that as well. I am lucky to be seen in that way but I do try and do all sorts of different roles – I remember, in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, they covered me from head to toe because why would Matthew McConaughey’s character have this assistant around the whole time and not be dating her!
You’ve worked with some crazy A-list talent like Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Jennifer Lopez, Charlie Sheen…
I remember, on my first day of working with him, I was like, ‘Wow! Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen!’ He’s the king of the sitcoms, a Hollywood legend! I really do like him a lot as a person and I continue to be star struck by him. He’s so smart and honest, and he’s a standup guy. I don’t think a lot of people realise how nice and respectful he is. He’s a friend of my husband and mine now, we have dinner at each others’ houses. Yeah, I never thought I’d be telling the world that I’m friends with Charlie sheen but here I am (laughs).
So what have you picked up from these phenomenally talented actors along the way?
I’ve always been pleasantly surprised when I meet some of these bigger stars because they are so nice. I’ve definitely picked that up from them: the fact that they are so, so famous and yet are so kind and down to earth. You can’t live in a bubble because to be a good actor, you have to have life experiences. With McConaughey, particularly, I learnt the value of being uniquely focused, even when you are doing a comedy. From all the great comedic actors I’ve worked with, I realised that to make an audience laugh, you have to be willing to make a total fool out of yourself (laughs).
Any plans of working in Bollywood?
It’s one of my dreams! I’ve grown up watching Bollywood. The first cinematic experience I had was being in love with Hema Malini and some of these legends that my parents loved too, when we watched these movies together. I’ve gotten scripts that have been quite cool but it’s been tough to commit because Bollywood schedules are really lax (laughs). But I love India, I love Indian food, I love Indian spices, and I have a very deep connection with being Indian. Growing up, the question I was asked every day was, ‘Where are you from’, so you really identify with the fact that you are an Indian. I can’t wait to work in Bollywood.
Noureen Dewulf’s Style Files (Box)
Sense of style: Easy going, sexy and chic
Fashion must-have: Pointy black high heels and a fabulous purse
Fashion must-do: Eyeliner every day, good hair every day
Comfort dress: Jeans and a tank top
Something she’ll never wear: A mumu
Favourite shopping destination: Paris
Favourite designer: Loving all the Australian designers right now
Best style advice she has received: Never look like you tried to hard… A dress can be low cut or short but never both.
One Indian style statement she loves: Bangles with everything
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Note: This piece first appeared in The Juice in the February 2015 issue.
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