The Young and the Restless' Abhi Sinha has only been in Genoa City for a couple of months, but he and his alter ego, Ravi Shapur, have already made quite a splash. Not only have fans fallen head over heels for daytime's only contracted American Indian character, it seems both power player characters Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson) and Phyllis Summers (Gina Tognoni) have, as well. Will fans of the CBS soap have a hot love triangle on their hands this spring? Sinha spoke with Soap Central to give the scoop on that as well as to share a few details about himself that are sure to set fans swooning.
soapcentral.com: Welcome to The Young and the Restless! How has the experience been for you so far?
Abhi Sinha: It's been incredible. I was definitely a little nervous at first, because everyone was telling me about the pace of the show, how quickly it moves, how you have a lot of dialogue, and how you usually shoot things only once or twice, or maybe three times at the most. So at first I was kind of nervous that everything was going to be moving so quickly, and I was a new character and I was coming on to a great show where everyone knew each other well. But pretty much in the first hour on set on my first day, all of my fears were put to rest. Everything went so smoothly, everyone was so nice and receptive and disarming. So in that way, it was a really nice 180. And it was really nice that it happened so fast on my first day.
soapcentral.com: Were you familiar with any of the actors on the show before you started?
Sinha: Oh, I was very familiar with a lot of them! I had always watched The Young and the Restless a little bit growing up, but my mom was a huge fan and had it on all the time in the house. So I walked in on the first day and said, "Oh, my gosh, there's Peter [Bergman, Jack Abbott]! There's Eileen [Davidson, Ashley Abbott]!"
soapcentral.com: Bonus points to you for knowing their real names and not accidentally calling them by their character names, which happens a lot.
Sinha: Oh, yeah, you don't want to go in calling them by their character names! [Laughs]
soapcentral.com: Because your mom was a such a big fan of the show, did she freak out when you told her you got the part?
Sinha: Yeah, she actually gave me a quote that I stole. When I booked the role, she said, "You've finally broken the mold! An Indian in daytime!"
soapcentral.com: Yeah, which is incredible, really. How does that feel for you, to have the title as basically the first main Indian American character on US soap operas?
Sinha: I had no idea, and I probably wouldn't have even known if she hadn't mentioned that to me. But when she said it and I actually thought about it, I thought it was pretty cool. For as cool as it is for myself, for selfish reasons, what I think is even cooler is that for the first time, we're seeing writers, producers, directors, start to have the same idea. And that's just a credit to [executive producer] Mal Young and the rest of the writers and producers who have the wherewithal to think about a character like that, a real, modern day character.
soapcentral.com: I know it's completely up to the writers in terms of future storyline, but have you thought about how you'd like your culture to be portrayed via Ravi? For many people who watch the show, you might be the only chance they get to learn about what being Indian really means.
Sinha: That's a really great question. I was hoping they would [delve into his culture], but I was hoping it wouldn't be too much. I was hoping that they would balance it by showing that the character, while he's kept a lot of his roots and his Indian culture, also showed a side of him that grew up in America and had those Western cultures as well. And I think the writers have done a really great job of balancing that, because there are definitely things later on with Gina [Tognoni] where he talks about his family and growing up. They're a really nice look into his past, but I think they have to be balanced with him showing us that he is also a modern day Indian American and has grown up in Western culture as well.
soapcentral.com: It's a pretty big deal in the entertainment industry, having you on Y&R. Is it just as special to your family, that you're helping pave this path for Indians on television?
Sinha: Oh, yeah, they're definitely proud. They're posting all the time. It's kind of getting to the point where I have to tell them, "Hey, guys, I'm not in today's episode. Post tomorrow!" [Laughs] But they're supportive and just awesome. And it definitely makes me feel good.
soapcentral.com: You've really become a fan favorite character right off the bat. So many fans seem to love you, and they're really digging the chemistry between you and Eileen Davidson.
Sinha: Oh, that's all Eileen. Ravi is just awkward. [Laughs]
soapcentral.com: Well he certainly knows how to hold his own. He was quite a charmer during the recent opera scenes.
Sinha: You know, when you watch it, I'm glad you got that impression, but there were definitely moments on set where the directors were like, "Abhi, sit up straighter! Project!" [Laughs] It's give and take with that, but it was a nice change of pace, and I got to have a little fun with that. And you know, hopefully we get to see more sides of that Ravi.
soapcentral.com: How does it feel to be paired right off the bat with Eileen Davidson, who is considered to be one of the most talented actresses in daytime?
Sinha: She is great, and she is just the consummate professional. Again, when I told my family that I booked it, they were so excited, and they said, "Who are your scenes primarily with?" And I said, "My scenes are with Ashley, Eileen Davidson." And they freaked out. They got so excited. They were like, "Oh, my God, it's the soap queen!"
soapcentral.com: Did you screen test with her?
Sinha: I didn't screen test, actually. I was booked off tape. I went in with casting and auditioned, but there was no screen test or chemistry read. They thankfully had enough faith from the tape in the audition.
soapcentral.com: Wow. Then they must have been pleasantly surprised that you two had such great chemistry right off the bat. Score!
Sinha: Yeah! Thankfully everything so far has gone well. I love doing all the scenes with Eileen and hopefully she feels the same way [laughs].
soapcentral.com: Ravi has definitely been doing his damndest to win over Ashley. What is it about her that has him so head over heels?
Sinha: I think for the first time in his life, maybe before he would have seen the age gap as an issue, but she reiterates that it's such an issue with her. But I think for the first time, Ravi is so infatuated with someone, and it has nothing to do with the age or the status or where they are in their profession or what they do. It just has to do with the fact that he likes her and he feels a certain way when he's with her.
soapcentral.com: Have you heard the rumor that the reason Ashley is so unlucky in love is because the powers that be haven't been able to find a strong enough man to pair her with? Until now, it seems...
Sinha: I heard that from fans, definitely. I got several tweets that said, "Ashley has had a rough time with men. She deserves a nice guy." And you know, I think with Ashley, she maybe went for a certain type of man, the alpha man, before. And maybe now she's starting to change up what she likes a little bit, and it could be great for her.
soapcentral.com: How do you feel about fans reaching out to you to share their opinions -- opinions that are sometimes very passionate!
Sinha: I love it, and I've been very receptive. I can't believe they've been this active on Twitter.
soapcentral.com: Like I said, many fans have seemed to take an immediate liking to you. And that's pretty special on a soap opera, because most viewers just want to see the characters they've loved for years and years.
Sinha: I really think the credit goes to our writers for giving Ravi so many redeeming qualities. He is a really, really nice guy. But still, to hear that from the fans is always really amazing and humbling, and I appreciate it.
soapcentral.com: Another thing that fans can't help but buzz about is this possible triangle between Ravi, Ashley, and Phyllis brewing. Is Ravi pinching himself?!
Sinha: I know! There's a scene were Phyllis and Ashley are in Ravi's office, arguing about Ravi, and I had to kind of do a double take when I read that. I was like, "Wait, is this really happening?!"
soapcentral.com: Are you hitting the gym a lot more now? You're on a soap opera, you've got two hot chicks fighting over you on-screen...
Sinha: You never know if there's going to be a shirtless scene sometime down the road, so you've always got to be ready!
soapcentral.com: Has anything like that happened to you in real life, having two gorgeous women fight over you?
Sinha: Oh, no! [Laughs] No, no, no, no. My life is way too boring.
soapcentral.com: Is Ravi aware that a love triangle could be brewing here? Or is he pretty oblivious?
Sinha: That's a good question. I wanna say no, that he would be completely oblivious to that. But you never know. Maybe he's more aware than we give him credit for.
soapcentral.com: Are you used to being around strong women in your personal life? Maybe sisters, if you have any, or you mom?
Sinha: Oh, I would definitely have to answer a big yes to that. My mom is a very strong woman. She raised me most of my life single-handed, so I would have to give her the credit there.
soapcentral.com: What did she think about you being an actor? Was she supportive from the get-go?
Sinha: Well, I actually went to USC for a year and was studying neuroscience and sports journalism, and then, after a year of school, I told her I was going to leave and become an actor. And she definitely had a moment of panic, but she has been nothing but receptive and supportive of that.
soapcentral.com: You've dabbled in a few things that could have been career choices -- the things you were studying in college, perhaps being a professional hockey player, and you also play the saxophone. So what was it about acting that really called to you, so much that you chose this as your career path?
Sinha: Well, it was definitely less painful than hockey! And I didn't really see myself being able to play hockey when I was 50 and 60 [laughs]. I had always loved to entertain, also with the saxophone, I had been musical and loved to perform. And then when I was, I think, 17 or 18, I booked my first acting job, and I kind of knew right then and there that I wanted to do it, and I really couldn't believe that people actually got paid to do that. And that was kind of the conversation I had with my mom when I left school to do it for real, professionally. And again, it was a very interesting conversation at first, but I never lost the support from her, and for that, I'm very thankful.
soapcentral.com: I imagine it would be really hard if you had a family who didn't support your dreams or that was disapproving of your choice.
Sinha: Well I'm Indian, and my mother is a doctor, so it can be tough!
soapcentral.com: Oh, your mom is a doctor? Did she have a crazy schedule while you were growing up?
Sinha: Yeah, she's really the busiest person I know.
soapcentral.com: But now you're probably just as busy, because a soap opera job is one of the few acting jobs that is kind of 9 to 5 without the typical freedom other acting jobs give.
Sinha: It is! It is a 9 to 5. Sometimes with other jobs, you might have a line or two in a scene, and you may do the scene 30 times, 40 times, until you get it perfectly. In the soap, there's such a live aspect, because they only do it once or twice. It almost is like a play, and I never thought about it until I actually came here and worked the first day and realized there are so many lines, there is so much that you have to get out, and you can rehearse it as many times as you need -- 20 or 30 times beforehand -- but once it's time to roll, it's like a play; you only get one chance at it to perform. That can be very scary to a lot of people. And the thought of it was scary to me beforehand, but once I actually came and started doing it, I loved it.
soapcentral.com: Do you watch the shows when they air so you can see how your performance translated?
Sinha: Yeah. I watch the show basically to see if Ravi is a likable character, and sometimes I don't like him as much as the fans do [laughs], but it's more for my own ego to watch and see what I can get better at.
soapcentral.com: Have you noticed any changes in your life since you started airing? Has being on Y&R changed things at all or made people look at you differently?
Sinha: It has definitely impacted my confidence. Not that I wasn't a confident person before, but I think as much as you like to think, "Whether people like you, whether they don't, I'm going to be the same person, nothing is going to affect me" -- it does. And when you hear all the nice things and humbling things people are saying and people are tweeting, it brightens your mood. It makes you feel better.
soapcentral.com: Is there anything else you can tease about Ravi's future before I have to let you go?
Sinha: I would just say for as little or as much as we've seen of Ravi, there's a lot more to come. And I think the best sides of him are yet to be seen.
What do you think about Y&Rís Ravi? Would you like to see Ashley finally give the character a chance? How would you feel about a love triangle between Ravi, Ashley and Phyllis? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.