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Ritu Arya: A Look Into Umbrella Academy Actress’ Journey To The Barbie World

Joining the cast of Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ film, ‘Umbrella Academy’s Ritu Arya brings to life a journalist Barbie, a role that challenges South-Asian representation on-screen and the global perception of a beloved doll.

Ritu Arya is a British Indian actress born on September 17, 1988. She is an alumnus of the Oxford School of Drama and Southampton University, where she majored in Astrophysics. Although ‘Umbrella Academy’ is what rose her to prominence, her role in ‘Barbie’ was a dream come true for the actress.

Her Career Highlights

Arya’s early acting endeavors include a role as Dr. Megan Sharma in the British soap opera ‘Doctors,‘ and guest appearances in cult favorites like ‘Sherlock‘ in 2014 and as the android Flash in ‘Humans‘ from 2016 to 2018. The year 2019 saw Arya in ‘Last Christmas,‘ followed by ‘Feel Good‘ and a guest appearance in ‘Doctor Who.

However, it was her role as Lila Pitts in the Netflix series ‘The Umbrella Academy,’ beginning in 2020, that received widespread attention. The performance earned her positive critiques, and the series itself enjoyed success into its third season in 2022. Arya then appeared in the Netflix film ‘Red Notice’ in 2021.

How Did Arya End Up in Barbie?

This year, Arya’s career took a turn with her role in Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ as a Pulitzer-winning journalist Barbie. She auditioned for the role with an American accent. The casting process for Arya was not without its twists — after an initial rejection, a call confirmed her participation. Recalling her casting in the movie, she told Vogue:

“I normally get pretty heartbroken. Greta is one of my favorite directors of all time, so I was in shock. However, I had a feeling that I might still be working on it. I don’t know, sometimes you just have a feeling. What was even more crazy was I’d written down in my journal at the beginning of the year that I would work with Greta, and I picked a random future month like April, not knowing that ‘Barbie’ was something she was doing. And then, I ended up working with her in April. It was crazy.”

Arya’s involvement in ‘Barbie’ contributes to South Asian representation, deviating from the traditional depiction of the doll. Whether it is her role in ‘Umbrella Academy’ or ‘Barbie,’ her main aim is to ‘bend the binary of what space South Asians occupy on-screen.’

Her Personal Life

According to her Vogue interview, Arya liked spending time playing with Sindy and Barbie dolls while growing up. She always knew she wanted to act, despite studying astrophysics due to parental and cultural expectations. She googled how to become an actor, which led her to drama school, supported by a scholarship.

Arya’s story is not just about the screen. Her talents extend to music, where she played as a drummer for the band KIN. As she continues her acting career, her roles in ‘The Umbrella Academy’ and now ‘Barbie’ show us an actor in pursuit of diverse roles that challenge stereotypes and broaden the scope of South Asian representation on-screen.

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