Indian-American author, actress, activist Sheetal Sheth visits EHS


Rebecca Hickey-Schultz

Sheetal Sheth displays her two children’s books–“Always Anjali” and “Bravo, Anjali!” in the EHS auditorium recently. Both books focus on the experiences of a young Indian-American girl named Anjali, and draw on experiences from Sheth’s own childhood.

Indian-American author, actress, activist Sheetal Sheth visited Everett High School on May 19, speaking with students in the auditorium about her life, career accomplishments and what it was like trying to break through in her fields as a woman of color.   

The multi-talented Sheth has written two children’s books, “Always Anjari” and “Bravo, Anjali!” Sheth has also written many op-eds which have appeared on CNN and MSNBC and in the New York Times, People, Publishers Weekly, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter. She has been featured in the magazines Seema, Anokhi, Chi, Woman and Page Seven. She was the first Indian-American to appear in Maxim Magazine. As an actor, she has appeared on TV shows such as “Nice Girls Crew” and “The Singles Table” and has won numerous awards.

Sheth began her career at a time when few South Asians were making their living as actors. She talked to students about how people of color were treated differently. It wasn’t as easy for them as it is now, Sheth claims.

“We have social media where we can talk to other people about this, so it is easier now than it was before,” Sheth said. “When I started in the 90s, there was a different scenario for brown people in any field in America. There were very few people from my background making it as an actor.” 

Sheth noticed the same lack of representation for people of color in the field of children’s literature. “There are more books about animals than minorities,” Sheth said. “This inspired me to write.”

Sheth is a first generation Indian-American. She is the daughter of immigrant parents. Her parents, who had an arranged marriage, immigrated from India in the 60s to the United States and landed in Pennsylvania, where Sheetal grew up. 

Sheth said her parents gave her a beautiful life. She grew up going back and forth to India, and she says she will be taking her children this year. “Visiting India was awesome. It was fun. I would go there a lot when I was younger, and for months. I would miss months of school and my mom wouldn’t care.”

Sheth was a decent student in her educational years. Her favorite subject was social studies. She loved reading and always carried a book with her. She was also heavily involved in student government. After graduating high school, Sheth attended New York University, majoring in drama. 

Speaking of how she became an actor, Sheth explained, “I used to be really good at basketball. I thought I was going to make the pros. Once the thought of not making the pros sank in, I went to a theater one day, and then acting started from there.”

Sheth didn’t begin writing until later on but once she did, she began carrying a notebook at all times because she usually gets ideas anytime she isn’t writing. Some of her ideas come from her dreams ,so she keeps a notebook next to her bed so she doesn’t forget. She also gets ideas from real situations and what is happening. She reads drafts of her books to her children, and receives useful feedback from them and gets more ideas. 

One of her favorite moments is when she gets to read her book “Always Anjali” to kids.

Sheth admits her career has had highs and lows. Sometimes she gets writer’s block. When that happens, she listens to music or binges shows. Sheth claims it was difficult getting into acting as well; she worked 15 years of bartending trying to break in. Furthermore, in 2019, she suffered from breast cancer, but has beaten it and is now doing fine. 

Sheth shared an important life lesson with students that no matter how hard life may seem or what it throws at you, things are up to you to make them better. 

Sheth has a new book called “Making Happy” coming out this fall. It focuses on how to be happy when nothing’s going right and finding your way in tough situations.