Actor Vishaal Reddy’s upcoming pilot “Insomnia” is about an outwardly ordinary queer Indian American guy who secretly works as an escort at night.
Reddy has not only played the role of the main character Nikhil Rao, but has also written the script.
Ever since he was 6-years-old, Reddy had wanted to become an actor because he liked “telling stories and immersing myself into characters is all I have ever wanted to do.”
But when he actually started working as an actor, he relized that there were not that many opportunities for Indian American actors thus a few of his friends told him to create something of his own.
“It was through late night creative sessions that I realized I wanted to tell a story about the queer, Indian-American identity – something that is personal to me. But identity stories have been done before so I needed a way to make it fresh and interesting. So one night, I actually couldn’t sleep so I texted some friends to meet me at a bar to grab a drink. At this bar, someone came up to me and asked me to be an escort! I genuinely thought my friends were playing a joke on me but it was not the case. And then I kind of just knew that this was going to be the story I wanted to tell,” he told The Teal Mango.
In “Insomnia,” Reddy has also added elements of eldercare and health care debt as though the main character is going through an identity crisis; he is also depressed but not willing to admit it.
“Something that is still taboo in our society, mental health affects one in four people worldwide and we talk about it a lot on this show,” he said, adding that “a major part of why this character is an escort is that he has a family member who’s dealing with multiple sclerosis” and he doesn’t have enough money to pay the medical bills.
Reddy told The Teal Mango that he was frustrated about how Indian characters are not shown as sexual beings and is part of the reason why he wanted to make the main character in “Insomnia” a sex worker as he wanted “to show us as sexual and in control of our sexuality” as well as “an Indian character using his sexuality to find his worth.”
“The protagonist identifies as bisexual and is open and honest about this from the get go. To see an Indian character own his sexuality in this way will hopefully start conversations and open people’s minds about sexuality and its ties to identity,” Reddy added.