Friday, December 9, 2022

Interview: Nida Khurshid Talks ‘The Winchesters’, Representation, and Creating Latika [EXCLUSIVE]

INTERVIEWSInterview: Nida Khurshid Talks 'The Winchesters', Representation, and Creating Latika

The highly anticipated Supernatural prequel is finally here and The Winchesters received a warm reception from fans who tuned in to see what sort of adventures John, Mary, Latika, and Carlos will be getting into. Following the second episode, we had the chance to chat with Nida Khurshid about her character Latika Da and what it’s been like to bring her to life on screen!

Nerds and Beyond: I’d like to start by touching on the representation that the show is bringing to network TV both with Carlos and Latika. I asked fans for questions and so much was an outpouring of love for Lata. How much input did you have in making sure Latika, as an Indian/Pakistani woman in America in the 1970s, is represented accurately? Did you have conversations with the creative team about it?

Nida: Thank you for sharing that, that makes me really happy. I did. Robbie Thompson has been so amazing. I can’t even describe how phenomenal of a process it has been to work with him. He’s allowed so much creative input on my end and it’s been such a fascinating process working with him to create Lata and of course, our wonderful writer’s room who take the ideas that I give to Robbie that Robbie gives to them. It’s been a beautiful cycle of collaboration and it was a really important story for me to help tell because I was born in Pakistan and moved to the States, and similar to Lata she was born in a time where the Partition had just happened in Pakistan and then she moved to England. Then from England now she’s in Lawrence, Kansas, so it’s a lot of story points that I didn’t just want us to glaze over. I wanted her history and her background to be prevalent throughout the show.

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Nerds and Beyond: Given she grew up in various cultures, how will her cultural background influence her personality and other aspects of her character like music preferences or clothing choices?

Nida: Well as far as clothing choices go, it’s a lot based on her personality. She’s a really bright, optimistic positive character and I think that shows through in what she wears. She wears a lot of colors and [she’s] trying to give slight nods to her culture in her jewelry. In the next few episodes, there’s maybe a little nod here and there, without giving too much away. It’s definitely been fun to hint at where she’s from without having that be who she is in terms of ‘this is the only thing that defines me.’ No, it’s a part of her but she’s also trying to acclimate to living in a completely different country again and she’s involved in this hunting world which is so new to her. I think that’s the beautiful part about Lata is that she’s quite a chameleon, she can move around from place to place and she does a really good job with fitting in but not erasing where she’s from.

Nerds and Beyond: It’s clear that Lata has been through some tough times that led her to this point of becoming a hunter in training. How slowly or quickly will viewers see her backstory unfold and how does her story play into her motivations to help Mary?

Nida: I think we’re going to see it quickly, but we’re not going to get the whole story yet. Our writer’s team is doing a beautiful job about giving bunches of little hints of why our characters are who they are. We’re trying to go for as long as we can and tell this story slowly and beautifully and get to know all of our characters, all six of us in a slow burn. We will get to know a lot more about her background, I promise, it’s going to be sprinkled in in every episode for all of our characters.

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Nerds and Beyond: In relation to Supernatural, Lata is giving off a lot of Bobby vibes with her extensive knowledge and clearly having been a little behind the scenes until we meet her. She’s the sweet bookworm. Will there be a darker side to Lata than what we’ve seen in these first few episodes given the nature of hunting?

Nida: That’s a great, valid question. As human beings we have a little bit of both in us at all times. We have good, we have evil, but it’s the choices that we make that either bring one side out or the other. I think that Lata is really smart with her choices right now and she understands that with great power and great knowledge you can go one way or you can go another way. Right now she is being very mindful with the good choices she’s making. Now, I don’t know if this is going to go in the opposite direction but I would be curious to see how different circumstances affect her as a human being and how life can either bring you down or built you up. We’re going to see, I don’t want to give too much away, but tbd!

Matt Miller/The CW

Nerds and Beyond: As one of the Core Four, Lata has a very different relationship with Mary, John, and Carlos. How has it been working with each of the actors to develop those bonds and portray them on screen?

Nida: Oh my god thank you for asking that, that’s probably been one of my favorite things about this whole show is the relationships that the four of us have built. I mean, when I first met JoJo we both instantly were like, ‘Okay, this is a sibling dynamic. You feel like my long-lost sibling.’ And then I met Meg and she was the sweetest ray of light, and then I met Drake and I was like, ‘Wow, you and I can just joke for hours.’ We have such unique dynamics with each other and then the four of us made a really big effort to constantly hang out and create a strong bond because we really wanted that to come across on the show. In creating that bond on the show I think we realized that holy shit we all are kind of similar to our characters in the sense of our dynamics and how much we truly do enjoy spending time together on and off screen. The easiest thing to create, in my opinion, has been that friendship. I truly feel so lucky to have these people as my costars, their talent is insane and who they are as friends to me, I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

Nerds and Beyond: I love that. It’s so clear on screen already, even with just two episodes in, that you guys click.

Nida: Thank you!

Nerds and Beyond: Is there a particular episode or aspect of Lata’s story that you are most excited for fans to see or learn about?

Nida: I think her progression of who she is as a human being. We all go through so much in life and I think just that is so fascinating to watch on TV. Everyone knows she’s a hunter in training but she’s not going to be in training forever, so where does she go from there? I’m really excited to tell that story, and right now she is claiming that she is a pacifist. Does she stay a pacifist forever and also who is Lata when she lets loose a little bit and she doesn’t have her nose in the books? Who is she in those in-between moments? I’m really looking forward to peeling back those layers of her. Especially diving deeper into the dynamics of Carlos and Lata’s relationship, John and Lata’s relationship, Mary and Lata’s relationship. It’s going to be interesting, I don’t want to give away too much, but I think ya’ll will like it.

The CW

Nerds and Beyond: We had a fun fan-submitted question to end with for you. What do you think would be Lata’s favorite book? Is she a fiction reader or all about the non-fiction/lore research?

Nida: So I love this question, oh my goodness. I have an answer, I’ve thought about this before funny enough. I myself love reading as well and I was thinking about what Lata would like and it came to me. I think it would be The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. To my understanding, he wrote it in the 1960s so it would have been around when she was growing up. The book is just diving into different forms of love. Whether it’s platonic, whether it’s mother and son, whether it’s romantic, and I think as much as Lata loves lore and magic and this whole world, I think she’s curious about that world because she’s a curious person in general. She’s also a very loving person and I think psychology is a big part of who she is and she wants to know not only how do monsters brains and bodies work but how do humans work as well. I think she’s a little bit of a romantic as well and I think reading about love really excites her.

Nerds and Beyond: That’s a perfect answer. I just wanted to tell you again how much the fans absolutely adore Lata already. It was every other comment on my request for questions and I promised to relay that to you.

Nida: Oh, you are so sweet, please tell everyone it means the world to me. I can’t even express how grateful I am.

The Winchesters airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. You can find our other coverage of the show here. Be sure to check out On The Road Again, Nerds & Beyond’s podcast covering all things The Winchesters!

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