Enter Aaron (Part II): Creativity and the Pandemic

Interview by Jen Bush

Mr. Ratnayeke’s creative process is highly cerebral.  He also likes to be able to put a piece of himself into a character.  “With getting a new character, I like to find outthe similarities I share and see where I can draw the line and how much I can infuse of myself. From doing this do the differences influence how the character is shaped. Psychology of the character is an important piece that influences everything, especially understanding what their childhood was like. I find these pieces to be large blocks which allow me to find the other blocks to fit. The physicality for me often comes after. I like to work inwards and see what comes out of that. I am not solidified in my process and am still trying new things, depending on the character. I recently did a play with a character on a similar trajectory of my own and that allowed me to see the extent of where I would go, but how differently his connection with his family effects how he interacts with the people around him. Taking as much as I can from the text to form a timeline and intention of a life. We all have expectations of the future. Our objectives in short or long term. Where we want to see ourselves, most often this is what fuels a person’s purpose. Where you want to be may be different to where you end up, but that desire is a strong tool to find focus and clarity on what your character wants.” 

The pandemic impacted every industry.  The performing arts is utilizing more online resources now.  Because of this, actors can book jobs with or without agents. Despite the pandemic, Mr. Ratnayeke was able to get on with his studies and forge a path to success in the industry. “The pandemic hit while I was in college which meant all acting classes went online. Our learning experiences definitely suffered and put the whole industry on pause. The comfort of a full-time school schedule shielded me from having to worry about finding acting work during that time but that meant when I graduated, I was entering a new industry. An updated one. Due to the pandemic, castings have become mostly virtual and have integrated more online based communication which makes seeking work more accessible and convenient. I felt as an actor I had a lot of power in finding work. From what our teachers told us of what the industry was like. Your success and work were reliant on finding a good agent and having them field jobs for you but today, we have the luxury of various casting websites allowing me to market myself, this gave me a lot of freedom and control and made me realize my demand in this market. When reaching out to agents, analyzing their client list I would see very few, most times no south Asian actors. Which highlighted a real gap in the market. I know demand for more diversity is on the rise, but I feel that agencies need to put more of an effort into building their talent landscape into one that is more inclusive. The pandemic has also created a demand for more content due to the increase in media consumption which has created a lot of opportunity to tell more stories and as a result has created more work for actors of color.”

 Given his plethora of skills and captivating looks, Mr. Ratnayeke will surely thrive in this business on multiple continents.  “Next, I want to do more film and television and once I acquire an O1 visa, I see that becoming more of a possibility. As an international, there are a lot of limitations which makes navigating this industry difficult but makes you work that much harder. I hope to continually grow my career and train in my craft. Hopefully on to bigger projects to work towards joining the union.” 


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