Character Conversations: Sunita Mani and Ivan Shaw Talk Growing up Asian American

As temperatures cool down across the country, enjoy an afternoon indoors with our latest episode of Character Conversations.

Actors Sunita Mani and Ivan Shaw got to chat virtually about their recent work and respective upbringings. Mani, who’s best known for her turn in Netflix’s “GLOW,” stars in the newly released “Evil Eye” as Pallavi, a young woman in New Orleans who has to contend with her Indian mother’s superstitions on top of her too-good-to-be-true new relationship. Shaw has appeared in “Insecure” and “Better Things,” and most recently portrays “Nocturne”’s sinister piano teacher Dr. Cask, who lurks throughout the film’s chilly music school setting.

Mani and Shaw kicked things off by discussing their individual experiences growing up as Asian Americans, Mani in small-town Tennessee and Shaw in a Californian suburb. Shaw recounted his feelings of not belonging in his hometown, citing one particular instance where he encountered a group of friends chanting the words “white power.” “I just remember going, ‘I don’t know what that’s about,’” said Shaw. “‘I know these people don’t hate me, but I also know I’m not invited right now.’”

The two went on to bond over their newest projects. Both “Evil Eye” and “Nocturne” are part of Welcome to the Blumhouse, a curated selection of thriller and horror films that premiered on Prime Video in October of this year. However, Mani and Shaw emphasized that the themes of these movies resonate far beyond any shallow genre conventions. “It’s really cool that these stories, they seem to be succeeding because they haven’t been done before,” Mani said. “We haven’t seen them before.”

You can watch the full conversation above, and catch Mani and Shaw’s highlights in the videos below. For an extra-spooky Friday the 13th, make sure to check out “Evil Eye” and “Nocturne” on Amazon Prime.