Sex Lives of College Girls’ Amrit Kaur explains her epic sexual revolution: ‘I’m breaking stereotypes’

Amrit Kaur stars as Bela in Sex Lives of College Girls. (Getty)

Sex Lives of College Girls star Amrit Kaur wants to empower South Asian women as sexual beings and bring the “unconventional” to Hollywood. 

Her character in Mindy Kaling’s HBO Max show Sex Lives of College Girls, Bela, is a tenacious sex-positive Indian-American comedy writer who, going into season two, is trying to break down barriers.

“I’m interested in breaking stereotypes, in showing that South Asians are like every other human,” Kaur tells PinkNews. 

“I think specifically, the role of Bela – she’s one of the few roles where we see a South Asian American in Hollywood be sexual.

“It’s empowering for those who see themselves in that light to be seen on the screen. And beyond that, on a universal level, she’s a woman who’s ambitious, forward thinking, not obsessed with labels, she’s not obsessed with gender norms.”

Amrit Kaur’s love for “human, flawed, unique and unconventional” characters goes way back, and growing up, Mindy Kaling was “a huge influence”.

“She didn’t look like the one per cent of the model-looking actors and actresses that were in Hollywood,” Kaur explains, “she looked like me. It made me feel like I could become an artist and be seen.”

One character that shaped Kaur’s perspective as a young queer person was The Good Wife’s Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi).

“[She] was a Bela for me. She was one of the first women, South Asian American women, that I saw who was bisexual on screen and sexual at a time it was very much taboo to be a sexual South Asian American woman on the screen.”

For a new generation, its Kaur that’s making an impact when it comes to representation. 

This year she joined the likes of Big Boys’ Jack Rooke, Heartstopper‘s Diana Olifirova and Sex Education‘s Runyararo as a recipient of the BAFTA Breakthrough initiative.

But even with all her successes, and the broader rise of nuanced, diverse representation, she believes there is still a long way to go.

Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma in The Good Wife. (CBS)

Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma in The Good Wife. (CBS)

“It would be nice to see casting be about casting humans. Every experience is a universal experience.”

In particular Kaur is passionate about seeing South Asians not just “packaged into one culture”.

She explains: “In other cultures, we see a variety of people, characters and cultures within each race.

“There’s so many different cultures: Indian Muslim, Pakistani Muslim or being Christian in Pakistan. I’d like to see specificity in the storytelling.”

And once the industry cracks that, she hopes they can “bring [it] to the next level” by looking beyond race to the “essence of a person”.

No doubt, Bela will continue to inspire swathes of South Asian women looking for outspoken, humorous and empowering content. 
The Sex Lives of College Girls is about to wrap its second season in the US, and Kaur is about to play her first leading film role, in queer Canadian-Muslim director Fawzia Mirza’s debut feature film, Me, My Mom and Sharmila

(L-R) Pauline Chalamet, Alyah Chanelle Scott, Amrit Kaur, Reneé Rapp, and Mindy Kaling. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

(L-R) Pauline Chalamet, Alyah Chanelle Scott, Amrit Kaur, Reneé Rapp, and Mindy Kaling. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

The film sees Azra (Kaur) travel to Pakistan to bury her father and connect with her conservative mother, while exploring Bollywood, queerness, family and Pakistani culture. 

“For a number of reasons this character is very close to me,” Kaur says.

“I have the opportunity to film in Karachi, Pakistan, a place where my grandparents were from. That means a lot to me.”

She continues: “Beyond that, to tell the story of gay, South Asians, that’s unconventional. 

“To tell the story of the relationship between a mother and daughter, the relationship of seeing your home country for the first time.

“There are so many films that are about Pakistan that are not shot here and I think it is breaking a lot of fear that the world has created around filming here. And so I’m excited to be part of the movement.”

Sex Lives of College Girls season two is now airing on HBO Max.