Dosti दोस्ती, pronounced 'dostee': Friendship
Sukhman Gill is an architect by day and an actor and model by passion. Focusing on impact vs. output, he is working towards shifting the entertainment industry as we know it. When he's not working on his personal and professional creative pursuits, he's focusing on uplifting and empowering his surrounding communities. If there is one thing that we can say about Sukhman, it's that he doesn't stray from his heart's compass and is never willing to compromise his pursuit of a purpose-driven life.
At your core, who are you?
The best way to put it aligns with my Instagram handle: I am Sukhman Gill. What I do stems from a space of not seeing myself represented in the entertainment industry—from modelling and acting to voiceover work. Whether I am the person sparking change or the person inspiring someone else to push for change, I feel like my purpose is to try and focus on not just what I do, but rather the more significant impacts of my actions.
So what does representation in the entertainment industry mean for you? What does that look like?
I have a vision that one day when they see us on screen, it's not going to look forced or out of place. It'll feel just as natural as seeing non-South Asian people on the screen because the truth is, we belong there. The way it's almost unassuming to see us in cabs or convenience stores, we belong everywhere else too.
Ah yes, the stereotypical portrayals of brown folks. How are you navigating that as someone in the industry?
Do you know what's interesting? A stereotype isn't always a negative thing. Like, driving a taxi cab isn't a bad job.
Yeah, that's true. Acting on stereotypes is what simplifies the existence of a whole group of people. We are not a monolith, and there is so much complexity to our experiences and reality.
Exactly. I want to change the landscape in which people see us and how they interact with us. It's the typecast that I want to fight against. Suppose there's a group of friends on screen; why can't brown people be a part of that? Why do I have to be a cab driver or a tech guy? There are moments when I take those roles, but I want to get to a point where I can say no and push past them someday.
Did you always know that you wanted to be in entertainment?
In our culture, if you get a degree in something, you stick to it. If you get a degree in accounting, you become an accountant. You know? I went to school for architecture, and that's my day job. I made my parents proud in that sense. But my passion is everything else that I do. I don't want to work, retire and follow the regular flow of life. I want to leave a legacy. Whether I succeed or not, I hope that the bricks I lay start a foundation at the very least.
Do you have any advice for those that want to follow in your footsteps?
My answer to that is: Find your why. What is it? Is it to be famous or make money? Because those things can be done in other ways, too. Or is there purpose and an impact-driven mindset there? To go through 200 auditions and not land a role, you really need your core intentions and purpose to keep you going. Whether you're a creative or an entrepreneur, that's what you need.
How do you spend your time?
I work full-time and balance my passions with that. The reality is that I still want to build my family and have that sustainable income but I'm working towards the day that my creative endeavours can surpass that.
I started writing in the last year year and a half. I was looking to learn how to write in order to perfect my craft as an actor—the structure, the turning point in a story; I want to understand all of that. I also explore a lot of my identity through my writing.
And when I'm not doing that, I'm playing basketball or volleyball and spending time with my family and loved ones.
What does self-care look like to you?
Does meditation count as self-care? I start the day trying not to think about the past and future; I sit in the present. People don't stay in the present. We either reminisce or talk about where we're about to go and what to do. We rarely sit with the moment. This practice helps me start with gratitude.
Keeping healthy and going to the gym is something I prioritize. And I do facemasks and my skincare routines with my sister. That started when. I had to start wearing makeup for my acting gigs.
What's your current skincare routine?
I know people hate hearing this, but I use a lot of water. Haha. I have a kit by Peter Thomas Roth that my sister got me, and I also use a lot of masks. I use sunscreen every day and always layer in some vitamin C and e oil.
What cultural rituals around skin, hair, and body did you grow up with?
I don't think I grew up with a lot of skin rituals. I remember my mom making this massive roti with turmeric to wrap around my ankle, which helped with some swelling. So turmeric—or as we call it, haldi—is something I turn to a lot.
The most significant cultural ritual for me is wrapping my turban. I used to have cut hair as a kid. But growing up in Richmond, Victoria, many of the kids I grew up with and played soccer with wore turbans. So I started asking many questions, to the point where I almost annoyed my parents. At that moment in my life, I realized that all I wanted was to be the best soccer player and wear a turban. Eventually, I tied my turban, and my brother followed suit shortly after. It was like a calling, and nobody pushed me. I had the choice, and I made it. And because I made that choice myself, I am more proud of it.
What rituals did you introduce to yourself and your life during the pandemic?
I started writing more during the pandemic. I pour my ideas and my soul's musings out more. I want to develop stories to share with other people, hopefully. I take bits and parts from my life and the lives around me, weaving it all together.
As we get older, we get busier. And as we get busier, time goes by faster. The pandemic slowed time down for me. I saw past the fast-paced movement of life to spend more time with my parents and my siblings. Of course, everyone has different family dynamics, but for me, it was nice to develop a routine of hanging out with them.
So you took a trip to Punjab recently. Did this trip impact your relationship with wellness and the routines in your life?
I'm generally a pretty stress-free person, but I was even more stress-free when I went to Punjab. I don't know if it was because it's the place of my ancestors and where my parents' homes were, but I felt so at ease and at home. When you wake up, you can hear the prayer from the gurdwara and the birds chirping, and you can see the sun coming out from the morning fog. I don't even drink cha, and I found myself sipping it at any given moment when I was there. I feel like I was embodying my culture, people and love. I was immersed in my culture in every way.
What's your first memory of ghee?
Ghee has always been a staple in my life. Growing up, we used it in food and for wellness. But my favourite way to use it is with Ghlee. It feels like a ritual of my own.
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