Spotlight – Parminder Nagra

Meet Parminder Kaur Nagra, an English actress of Indian decent. She became well known for her roles in “Bend It Like Beckham” starring alongside Keira Knightley, and in the Emmy Award winning medical drama “ER“.

Parminder was born in England, after her parents emigrated to the UK from Punjab, India in the 1960s. At the age of seven, Parminder suffered a terrible burn. The story of how she received the burn was incorporated in her breakthrough role as Jesminder in “Bend It Like Beckham“. Parminder appeared in the youth orchestra as well as her first theatrical productions at her comprehensive school, Soar Valley College in Leicaster.

A few months after Parminder took her A-levels and left school, she was approached by her former drama instructor Jez Simons, about joining the Leicaster theatre company Hathi productions, of which Simons was the artistic director. Parminder accepted and was cast as a chorus member in the musical “Niami” in 1994. After the lead actress dropped out, Parminder took the role. Simons believed that Parminder had a star quality that raised her above the others which led him to select her for the role.

Nagra’s first London theatrical work came later in 1994 at the Theatre Royal Straford East, where she was casted as the princess in “Sleeping Beauty“. Her performance became a notable one, as Parminder was an indian playing aΒ CaucasianΒ role. In 1996, she took a small part in “Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards”. She met then boyfriend, Irish actor Kieran Creggan, while performing at the Cottlesloe Royal National Theatre, and later moved into a flat with him. They dated for five years before ending their relationship.

In 1997, Parminder appeared in the three part drama “Turning World“, and made a second appearance in the British television drama “Casualty” the following year. She continued to star in movies and television throughout the late 90’s, until her breakthrough role in “Bend It Like Beckham” in 2002. The film was directed by British director Gurinder Chadha, and also starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Keira Knightley. In the film, Parminder plays a talented football player who idolizes superstar David Beckham.

Parminder received critical acclaim for her performance in “Bend It Like Beckham” and she was nominated for several awards, as well as the recipient of a few. Parminder would go on to appear in other movies including “Ella Enchanted“, as well as television dramas. She was offered to join the cast of “ER“, after the shows producer John Wells became interested in her after seeing her movies.

In 2004, Parminder received the honour of being torch bearer as the Olympic torch passed through London on its way to the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. After completing the final season taping of “ER” in 2005, Parminder returned to Leicaster to begin filming on “Love in Little India”. Parminder won the 2006 Asian Excellence Award for Outstanding Female Television Performance, for her role in “ER”.

In 2009, Parminder married photographer James Stenson, her boyfriend of seven years. They had two ceremonies, a civil and a sikh, honoring both’s traditions. Parminder later gave birth to a son in May 2009. Parminder is currently working on the film “Horrid Henry: The Movie“, which is set for a 2011 release.

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