Actor, rapper, singer Utkarsh Ambudkar is one of my personal favorite creatives in Hollywood. Since his breakout performance in Pitch Perfect in 2012, Ambudkar is one of the few actors I enjoy in almost every project he’s in. As one of the few high profile Indian actors in the industry, Ambudkar also has a policy never to play sidekicks or computer nerds so that he doesn’t perpetuate stereotypes.
In World’s Best, a hip-hop focused film about a boy and his father, Ambudkar is not only one of the stars, but he also serves as a producer and writer, ensuring that he doesn’t have to worry about stereotypes. Ambudkar’s co-star, 15-year-old Manny Magnus, is part of a new generation of South Asian talents whose path is just a little easier thanks to trailblazers like Ambudkar. Together, they form a ridiculously talented and entertaining duo who make up the heart of the film.
I had the opportunity to speak with Ambudkar and Magnus about World’s Best. Ambudkar spoke about how special this project is because it allowed him to be his authentic self.
“I feel really grateful to Disney for giving me a chance, and for asking to do the thing that I do well…as opposed to trying to fit me into a box, which a lot of people did for the first 15 years,” Ambudkar said. “It takes a lot of people to make it work, and so, having an opportunity to tell a story, unique to my skill set, with the help of so many people, and their belief in the vision, and also to have found Manny, who’s a diamond in the rough type of talent, this one felt like a lucky one.”
Given where the two talents are in their respective careers, I expected that Ambudkar imparted some wise words for Magnus. When I asked Magnus what Ambudkar’s advice was for him on the film, he said simply, “He told me to be confident, don’t underestimate myself. And then for the rest of the time he just messed with me.”
“Be confident. Don’t poop your pants, and you’re good…that’s great dad advice bro!” Ambudkar chimed in.
Check out our full conversation and watch World’s Best premiering June 23rd on Disney+.
In the midst of navigating the tumultuous hardships of adolescence, 12-year-old mathematics genius Prem Patel discovers his recently deceased father was a famous rapper and immediately sets out to pursue a career for himself as a rap superstar. While his recent actions may appear reckless and the quickest way for him to lose everything, Prem, empowered by imaginative hip- hop music-fueled fantasies where he performs with his father, is determined to find out if hip-hop truly is in his DNA. As his father always used to say, “the world’s best never rest.”
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.