Karn Kalra exerts 2,000 percent into everything he does, and his star is only beginning to rise. The Indian-Canadian actor always harbored a passion for performing, but it wasn’t until graduating from university that he pursued his dreams.
Karn’s first break came when he booked a role in Netflix’s Feel the Beat opposite Sofia Carson. Recently, he appeared as a contestant in the inaugural season of Bachelor in Paradise Canada, an outing filled with heartbreak, laughs and drama aplenty.
I had the privilege of chatting with Karn about his time on Bachelor in Paradise Canada, starting his own production company, his dream role and what’s on the horizon.
This interview has been condensed for clarity.
Melody McCune: We at GGA love a good origin story. What’s Karn Kalra’s origin story?
Karn Kalra: As a kid, I always loved entertaining. I loved acting, and I did a lot of theater growing up, but I wasn’t sure how to turn that into something. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at the time because I also loved business. It wasn’t until university when I decided to make it my career and did everything in my power to do so.
I couldn’t be straightforward with my parents about what I wanted to do for the longest time. Because in my culture, they expect more of a blue-collar profession. But my parents are cool; they’re very understanding. When I mustered up that courage to tell them, they were supportive.
MM: Let’s talk about Bachelor in Paradise Canada. How did you get involved with the project?
KK: I was dating someone for about three years. After we separated, I took a trip to Miami. I was supposed to go for ten days, but I stayed for three months. While I was there, my friends back home told me about this opportunity. They said, “You should do this. I think this could be a great idea.” At first, I was not into it at all. I thought, “I don’t want to do anything reality. It’s not for me.”
I didn’t even send in the tape right away. I thought it was crap; I didn’t like it. It wasn’t until the day it was due that they called me again to follow up, so I sent it in. The rest is history.
MM: Did you become a fan and watch the previous Bachelor or Bachelorette installments before joining the show?
KK: I watched a little to grasp what it was about and if I could do it. It’s cameras on you all the time, showing your true self. That makes you think, “What if someone doesn’t like me?” Then, I said, “Forget it. I’m going to be my true self and whatever happens, happens.” I went for it.
I debated it a lot, though. Once I got the confirmation I would be part of it, I spoke to my agent and my friends and family, people I could trust, and they all said relatively the same thing. “As long as you’re yourself, you’ll be fine.”
MM: What’s it like to be on the ground floor of a new series?
KK: It’s nerve-wracking. What if you expect the series to continue and there are two, three, four seasons, but at the end of it, people don’t like it? From that perspective, it’s nerve-wracking. But on the other side of it, I’m the first to be on a new project in Canada, which is exciting. I know the franchise is massive, and people love it. So, it’s both. It’s both exciting and nerve-wracking.
MM: Describe this inaugural season using three words.
KK: Love, lobsters and drama.
MM: Got to have a little bit of drama!
KK: If there’s no drama, it’s not worth it.
MM: Piggybacking off of that, is that what audiences can expect for this season?
KK: They can expect more, but, yeah, there’s drama and a lot of love and laughter. There’s heartbreak, sad moments and arguments. A lot happens in between, but those are the things I would say to expect.
MM: Let’s switch gears a bit. You recently appeared in The Hot Zone: Anthrax for National Geographic, which explores the events taking place after 9/11. How did you get involved with the show, and how are you similar to your character?
KK: I got the audition from my agency, and it went well. I was excited to book that role. The similarities I found between me and my character, Agent Folson, were that he was new to the Federal Bureau and eager to work. He trusts his intuition and his gut. In my life, I’m willing to work. Many people tell me certain things, but I’m following my gut and instincts at the end of the day. I found I could take that for myself and put it into the character.
MM: Do you have a dream role? It can be in film, TV, theatre, etc.
KK: I’ve been manifesting something for quite some time. I want to play Chakra the Invincible, a Marvel character.
He’s the first Indian Marvel superhero. They made an animation of him back in 2013 — Stan Lee did. And two sequels in 2016 and 2017. I feel like it’s on the horizon with the way Marvel’s going and the diversity in their characters.
So, I’ve been training mentally, physically; getting my body in shape. I’ve been trying to understand the character a bit more, and I’m working toward that because it’d be a dream for me to play a superhero.
KK: Don’t care about what everyone thinks. People are going to give you mixed ideas and emotions. They’re not in your shoes; you have to go with what you feel is right. You have to give it all you got. You got to give it 2,000 percent, and you can’t quit because there’s going to be a s**t-ton of failure. You have to accept that right off the bat.
The way I look at it, if I’m not failing, I’m not growing. I don’t want things to come quickly. I want to fall as much as I can at a younger age because I know my time will come where it will click.
MM: You also started your own production company, which films and creates content for professional athletes and musicians. What inspired you to make this company?
KK: This is back in university — I think I finished school. A close friend approached me to film for one of his clients. I was filming for myself and making fun videos with my buddies. I said, “You know what? I’ll try. Why not? It pays.”
I started exploring that idea, expanding my network and pitching people what I do. Every day I would spend about 30 to 60 minutes on YouTube learning new camera, editing and photography tricks, or pitching people. I would constantly teach myself. If I continue to film, I’ll get a better understanding of the behind-the-scenes of the business and be in front of the camera.
It came to the point where I felt so comfortable pitching that I would get opportunities to meet people and pitch them on the spot. I was filming at a nightclub for a friend, and Flo Rida was there for an afterparty.
I went straight up to him while he was drinking, and I pitched him for 30 seconds, and he liked it. He liked the fact that I did that. We exchanged contact info, and from there, I got to film him and his new artist. I went to a show with him to film his after-show, and it was the craziest experience.
MM: That’s awesome! What else is on the horizon for you, career-wise?
KK: I have a Hallmark film coming up on Valentine’s Day called 10 Truths About Love. I’m currently auditioning for bigger roles. I can’t say what they are, but they’re series-regular roles for upcoming dramas. If I book those, that would be fantastic. But right now, the next film is 10 Truths About Love.
MM: Have you binge-watched anything interesting lately?
KK: True Story with Kevin Hart and Wesley Snipes. Kevin Hart plays himself, but he shows a different side. We don’t get to see the more serious side because it’s hidden behind the curtain. It was cool to see him be serious and showcase his life with some fictional elements. Overall, it was breathtaking to see. Wesley Snipes killed it.
MM: List your favorite films and TV shows.
KK: Blow with Johnny Depp — I love that movie. Crazy, Stupid, Love. My favorite TV series is Entourage. I could watch that every day. Nothing sticks with me where I’m like, “Oh, I would re-watch that. Oh, that’s a good one.” Friends is good because it’s super easy to watch. It’s relatable. I think those are my favorites.
MM: Karn, thank you so much for chatting with me, and congratulations on everything!
KK: Thank you so much for your time!
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