We had the good fortune of connecting with Neha Mangipudi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Neha, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
Giving up is such a common solution, because it’s the easiest solution. Today’s society grew into staying in the comfortable zone. Not taking challenges, not going above and beyond, taking risks, doing the hard work to achieve success. Nothing in this world comes easy. Relationships, family, jobs, school, life itself, living in a society with a limit. If there’s something that interested me just a bit and I don’t see it in my future, trying it for a while would be no problem. But if there’s something I want badly to the point where I get emotional just thinking about it. Quitting isn’t even an option. Im not saying thoughts of quitting have never came to mind. They have, plenty of times. But every time they do, I just tell myself, it’s a phase, this is the hard part, getting past these thoughts, and once I do, my minds good again, and I just keep stepping up the ladder from there.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It started off as a child. I was obsessed with everything that had to do with film. Constantly watching Bollywood and Nemo. I had decided at around 5 years old that acting is what I wanted to do, and here I am today making film after film, commercial after commercial. I have been told I’m very mature for my age and extremely disciplined. This didn’t come from aging or trauma. It simply came from the gym. During middle and high school I was never satisfied with my body. Always wore oversized clothing to cover the belly rolls and fatty areas. I ate greasy fatty foods and looked forward to 6 slices of pizza or burgers and sodas. I thought about going to the gym, but like most people that “Monday” never came. When COVID hit, that’s when everything changed. I thought to myself, when everyone comes back from this break all the girls are going to look even more flawless than now and if I don’t do anything, I’ll come back looking the same. So I started exercising. This process of achieving the body I have now is a whole other story of ED’s and dysmorphia. But through that process is where I learned about how consistency, discipline, and passion towards your goal is all you need to achieve greatness. This progress and story is what sets me apart and I am most proud of myself for it. Becoming a well working actress in Arizona wasn’t easy at all. Took me 4 years just to figure out how the industry actually works. Now that I do know, its the effort of auditioning and being rejected over and over again. Getting a role and now working to become the character. Traveling back and forth to LA, sometimes not even to set but just to attend an audition that most of the time I didn’t get. Its the constant hobby building. Taking different classes, learning new things, so when a character with a specific aspect comes around, you would have the experience for it. Being an actor means investing in yourself as a person, creating experiences all to benefit a future role.
The challenging part about this career path is keeping up with it. A lesson I learned is never go into something thinking it’ll be easy. Ive watched interviews and witnessed a couple friends who had stopped acting or continuing their work because it was too hard, or they got rejected. I hear stories of actors saying how they went into depression after being rejected multiple times. Knowing this and coming into the industry was easier. I knew that I probably wouldn’t get a big role or project until after a few years have past being in the industry, and that exactly what happened. 3 years later in the industry I had gotten the opportunity to star in a huge WhatsApp commercial in Mexico.
Many people from Instagram and people I’ve met always tend to say this one word when congratulating me. “Great job Neha, you’re very lucky”. I hate it. I appreciate the effort to congratulate me. But there was only 20% luck in it. I was signed with a terrible agency starting off. They had given me less that 5 auditions in the 2 years that I’ve been with them. So instead of waiting I took things into my own hands and decided to start my career myself. I got that WhatsApp commercial without an agent. I booked my biggest jobs including my Pokemon commercial without an agent. My acting, modeling, and singing gigs so far have been booked by me. This is an action I decided to take, because I was tired of waiting. I want it known that in this industry there is luck, but not even comparable to effort. On the journey to where I am now I have experienced a lot. Heartbreak, depression, anxiety, stress, I have even ran away from home once cause of an overwhelming feeling. But as of now I still stand and my goal and determination hasn’t changed.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would definitely take them to Sedona. Not in summer of course, but during the spring or fall. Sedona to me is such a spiritual place and I absolutely love the bumpy jeep rides and hiking down to the river at sunset. Flagstaff is another place I would never miss. The tall trees and animals and during winter, skiing and hot chocolate next to the fire pits. For dinner I would bring them to Benihanas, that place never bores their guests. Afterwards probably chill at tempe marketplace and party on Mill Ave. And obviously watch a movie at an AMC, with the recliners and snacks. For one day I could hire one of my favorite photographers I know and take a photoshoot with a beautiful landscape then go watch Phoenix fashion week afterwards. During all of this, if they haven’t yet, I would take them to try boba. My favorite chilled drink.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My story starts off with my mother being my biggest support, my number one fan, and my greatest love. She’s the one that paid for all my acting classes, encouraged me to try new things, stuck with me through my ups and downs, and taught me everything I know now. My career involves taking risks, and she was right there with me taking them. If anything she would actually make me take more risks than I had anticipated on taking. My dream isn’t mine, its hers as well. Theres only one person that would get more excited than me to see myself on the big screen, and its her. I can already see the happy tears rolling down her face as my name pops up in the theaters. I have been taking acting classes at a near studio called “Howey Acting Studio”. Ive never seen such an inspiring and encouraging class before. The support an actor would get from that studio is admiring. Growing up I was a very self-conscious, shy, and lonely kid. I spent my last years of high school worrying of others and spent my lunches in the library watching YouTube videos due to having absolutely no friends. I was awkward and never spoke in class. Every time I did speak, I would get glares from classmates. No one had supported my dream. Not even the very few friends I did have. They would give me a smirk and sarcastically comment on how I would probably never reach my goal, because “its too big of a dream”. But when I entered this studio, I found my people. The ones I could be free around. The ones that would support and push me. The ones that notice my potential success and aren’t hesitant to help me achieve my dreams. We all have the same goal in this class and we all have created this community where we can lean on each other to help us all succeed.
Youtube: Neha Mangipudi
Other: Tiktok: neha_mangipudi
Chioke Hart-Kelly Colby Wilkerson