Chicks Chat with…
Preeya Kalidas award winning actress, singer/songwriter and radio presenter. The woman with the huge voice despite her petite frame. She’s proving to be a firm favourite on the West End stage since starring in the award winning AR Rahman’s Bombay Dreams playing the original female lead at the start of her career. Recently she was nominated for “best supporting actress” at the Olivier Awards for her role as Pinky in Bend it like Beckham. Her dazzling career spans across multi media platforms, not just Theatre but Film, TV and Radio Presenting, she’s also a recording artist too! Preeya is currently starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock at The New London Theatre in London. We are so pleased that one of our fav’s Preeya has taken the time out to chat with us, as she is one busy Chick!!
You may have been asked this many times, but I have to ask it. Growing up, had you always known you wanted to pursue a creative career or did you have aspirations to do something totally different?
My mum sent me to ballet at three years old because she said when music played I would always start moving , then by chance at 9 yrs old I started singing lessons . I attended a local drama group and I was always supported by my teachers who encouraged my interest in performing and music. My first groundbreaking role was playing Jack in jack and the beanstalk a musical version at primary school. I couldnt believe it, they cast a female and an Indian! After attending performing art school till the age of 16 I was Adamant to have a career in the entertainment industry. What was I thinking!! Lol !
You are a self proclaimed “mischievous creative” and as a friend I can certainly vouch for that!! You have many artistic passions. Which would you say is your first love and why?
I’ve been fortunate that I have a few creative passions and choosing one is kind of difficult, music is an expression of myself but playing a character is also rewarding stepping into someone else’s shoes and portraying their story. I don’t believe that we should be boxed as music , acting , performing all comes under one umbrella of creativeness.
For those who may not know School of Rock, tell us a little about the show and your character?
The musical is based on the film which starred Jack Black and has been reworked for the stage with the book by oscar winner Julian Fellowes ( downtown abbey/ gosford park) with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Glen slater. The show is centred around character called Dewey who has dreams of becoming a rock star but ends up pretending to be his flat mate Ned , as a substitute teacher In a prestigious school so he can pay rent to his frustrated girlfriend Patty Di Marco. The students he teaches end up being extremely talented and he turns them into a rock band and enters a music competition.
I play Patty Di Marco , Neds girlfriend who can’t stand Dewey and his slobbish ways and wants the best for her boyfriend and feels like Dewey is bringing him down which only worsens when she finds out that Dewey has been pretending to be Ned.
“I used to write poems as a teenager to help express any emotion I was feeling…”
What would you say is your crowning moment so far and why?
Hard to choose one moment but a special time for me was playing the lead In the original cast of Bombay Dreams , a musical produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber with music by AR Rahman( slumdog millionaire). It was the first of its kind , a groundbreaking musical which for the first time told the story of a community that had never had a voice on a mainstream stage and to be given the opportunity to work with an incredible team of creatives was literally a dream come true ( sorry if that’s Cheesey) but it was a poignant moment for me as the first British Asian to play the lead in a west end show. I would also say the other moment was being nominated for an Olivier for my role in Bend it like Beckham the musical last year, another brilliant show that represented the wonderful diversity of the UK.
As a recording artist you have collaborated with some big names in the music industry, including Mercury Prize winner Skepta on ‘Cross My Heart’, how did that come about?
It was thanks to all the supporters on twitter ,Skepta had written tweet asking who they would like him to collaborate with and Some people had mentioned me and he sent me a DM , asked if I would be interested and I said absolutely! All happened quite quickly and before I knew it I was on tour with him performing the record ,it was an amazing time I loved every minute.
You are not only a singer but write your own music, what’s your process?
It varies sometimes melody comes to me first without music and I could write a song dependant on my mood. Example being when you’ve been heart broken and an outlet of helping with that feeling is to write a song. I used to write poems as a teenager to help express any emotion I was feeling as I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about it. Other times a producer will play a track and I will record some freestyle melodies, then we will pick the best ones for verse, bridge and Chorus and then will talk about life and usually lyrics will come from some personal experience or something I’ve read about. I love it, as at the start of the day you have a blank canvas and by the end you’ve created a picture and coloured it in through music , melody and lyrics.
Who in the entertainment world would you say is your inspiration and why?
I’m constantly inspired by my peers , so many people in the entertainment world who are doing great things and in the modern world we now live in and the opportunities that u can create yourself via the web and social media is insane !
Actors/Actresses in the UK seem to get pigeonholed into one type/genre of work, with many getting stuck. You manage to seamlessly jump from one discipline to another. What would you say is your secret?
Having people around you that get you and don’t also let you get boxed. Also maintaining relationships with people that I have previously worked with who then get to know your potential and talent.
You host a radio show on BBC Asian Network, tell us about your show also when we can tune in?
My show is a fun entertainment show which goes out on Saturday afternoons 1pm-3pm. I play the best music, solve dating dilemmas In a feature called Kupid kalidas with the help of a great panel and every week I have a special guest that inspires our audience from Will.i.am , food lover and entrepreneur deliciously Ella , music producer Naughty Boy , actor Cillian Murphy.. The list goes on …but all amazing at what they do.
Preeya, you seem to fit an awful lot in work wise. What do you like to do to relax?
Eat! I love cooking whilst listening to music. Also walking , living opposite a beautiful park helps a it’s right on my doorstep and there’s no excuse !
Finally, we can’t have this chat without mentioning your strong sense of personal style! You always seem to make bold choices that work. Did you always have that confidence or has it evolved?
It’s definitely evolved ! I’ve made some terrible choices in the past but for me what you wear is an expression of oneself , I’m not into following trends. I like what I like but what I realised is is that you have to know what works for you and your body shape as we are not all the same. I’m also a big fan of bold colours and some would say I love a bit of glamour but that’s thanks to my mum who once said “always try look your best, you never know who you’ll bump into! ”
Thank you Preeya for such a great chat!
Interviewed by Karen Bryson
Tune into Preeya’s radio show on BBC Asian Network Saturday at 1pm or catch up on previous episodes here.
To see Preeya in Olivier Nominated musical School of Rock at The New London Theatre book tickets here.
To stay up to date on Preeya follow her on: