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Stages to screens

Hockaday freshman has early acting success

Sanjana Rajagopalan ’27 finishes her monologue with a dazzling smile before stepping off screen. She has just finished a day of shooting for the Nickelodeon’s television show “The Really Loud House,” where she plays Zia, one of the main character’s best friends.

She started acting when she was four years old, participating in cherished childhood productions such as “Aladdin.” Once she established her love for the stage, she had her parents sign her up for acting classes.

“I really wanted to be like Dove Cameron,” Rajagopalan said. “And that kind of started my love for this, but acting classes really helped me find my passion for performing.”

She also found an agent through these lessons by attending seminars that her teacher hosted for aspiring actors. Rajagopalan quickly connected with a local agent and signed with her. Her agent sends her audition tapes to casting directors, which gives Rajagopalan the opportunity to audition for three to four roles a week.

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Through this agent, she made her first on-screen appearance at ten years old, where she played Preethi Kapoor in the movie “Iké Boys,” released in 2021.

“She’s a very emotionally intelligent person,” Hockaday drama teacher Jeremy Hays said. “And while that isn’t a prerequisite for acting, it can really help you when you are starting out.”

After her movie,  she acted in a Disney pilot show before signing with Nickelodeon for her role in “The Really Loud House.”

Filming for this production normally takes two weeks per episode. Usually, she gets called in around 11 a.m., and she does a couple hours of schoolwork before going to hair and makeup and getting dressed in her costume. She normally shoots five to six scenes a day (lunch provided, of course), with each one taking around an hour.

“It’s a lot of time — 10-hour long days for five days a week — but I really enjoy it because I’m around a lot of people my age and you get to interact with everyone,” Rajagopalan said.

She continues to flourish in Hockaday Drama, where she participates in the Daisy Company. She was also cast in the musical “Six,” which she couldn’t partake in due to her shooting schedule.

“Sanjana’s a natural leader in her class,” Hays said. “Not because she wants to—she has zero ego— but because of her talent.”

Whether at Hockaday or on television, Sanjana’s emotional authenticity and passion for her job shine through.

“I think my favorite part about acting is experiencing things that you wouldn’t get to do in your own real life,” Rajagopalan said.

This story was originally published on The Fourcast on May 10, 2024.