Ayushi Chhabra had 'no idea' she was auditioning for Star Trek before she landed her role

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Ayushi Chhabra
Ayushi Chhabra
Photo: Supplied
  • Actor Ayushi Chhabra opens up to Channel24 about landing her role on Star Trek: Picard, and what it was like getting into character.
  • When asked about her favourite memory on set, Ayushi tells us about a special moment she shared with actor Jonathan Frakes who plays "Commander William Riker" in the series. 
  • The star, who moved to LA to pursue a career in acting, also speaks about life in the City of Angels and what it's actually like.

Ayushi Chhabra had no idea she was reading for a role in Star Trek when she walked into an audition room in LA.  

"For confidentiality reasons, the name of the show and the character were not revealed. I was given blindsides, and I had to make up my own back story," she explains to Channel24

The Indian-born actor, who grew up in South Africa, landed the role of Pel, a pregnant Romulan, on season one of Star Trek: Picard, and is hoping her character will make a return in the second season of the popular series.

"I think the best auditions are the ones where you don't think too much. You just go in, detached from expectation, do your best and leave the rest to the universe. And that is exactly what happened. Since I didn't have much information, I did the best I could and let it go," she says. 

When she got the part, Ayushi remembers being overwhelmed with joy. 

"The next day, my agent called and said, 'You booked Star Trek, and you will be playing an alien...a pregnant alien.' And I was like, 'WHAT? When did I audition for Star Trek?' I was crying in the middle of Hollywood Blvd."

Her parents, who had no idea what Star Trek was, are now "bona fide Trekkies", she confesses.

Taking on the role of Pel was a new experience for the actor. The makeup/prosthetics process alone took around three to fours hours. 

"The hair and makeup team were fantastic! They gave me a wig with the classic Romulan fringe, trademark brows and ears. Honestly, it is such a dream come true for any artist to go through something like that where you actually physically transform into another character." 

When asked about her favourite behind-the-scenes moment on set, Ayushi says it was a compliment she received from actor Jonathan Frakes who plays "Commander William Riker" in the series. 

"My favourite behind-the-scenes moment was when the legendary Jonathan Frakes held my hand at the end of the shoot and said, 'beautiful work'. I will never forget that. I could rest in peace as an artist, knowing that I experienced that. That was my Oscar," she laughs. 

She also got to work alongside stars like Mason Gooding and Michelle Hurd. "They are thorough professionals, extremely generous scene partners and very gifted artists. Whether it was on camera or during rehearsals, they were always well prepared, focused and ready to go! I learned so much from them," she says.

Ayushi made the move to LA at the age of 24, determined to chase her dream of making it big in Hollywood.

She admits, though, that making it in the City of Angels is not as easy as some would think. 

"I thought you could be discovered on the streets and become an overnight star. There is no such thing. Yes, you could randomly get a really good opportunity to audition or screen test for something big, but in Hollywood, luck is when a golden chance meets preparation. And prep takes time, consistent effort, sweat, tears, sacrifice and experience, both as an actor and as a human being."

"Also, when you think you've made it, you could fall from your high horse easily. So, it's important to stay humble and never take anything for granted," she adds. 

Her experiences living and working in Hollywood will be detailed in a book.

"People can expect to read some hard-hitting stories about what one has to go through, to fight for their dreams," she tells us, recalling one story where her car had been stolen the night before an audition. 

"That morning when I found out [that my car was stolen], I was scrambling to get my life together, completely shocked and frazzled, dealing with the police, and I still went in and did the big audition as if nothing ever happened. This is just one of many examples of my relentless pursuit and that's what this book is about. If my journey can inspire even one person, my job here is done!"

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