[Photo Source: Facebook/Melanie Kannokada]
If you’re hooked on CBS’s latest drama, “Code Black,” you probably already know Malaya Pineda, the Indian lesbian doctor played by Melanie Kannokada Chandra. The actress also starred as the fierce Fareeda Khan in HBO’S satirical comedy series, “The Brink,” starring bigwigs like Asif Mandvi, Jack Black and Tim Robbins.
With such meaty roles on primetime television, this 29-year-old actress is well on her way to becoming a household name. But there is more to this dusky beauty than meets the eye. We compiled ten things you probably did not know about Melanie Chandar, who is on the “The Brink” of Hollywood stardom.
1. Melanie Chandra was born and raised in a very conservative Malyali household in the Midwest. She recently got married to her longtime friend, Neeraj Chandra, who is the managing director at Tiger Global Management.
2. Before finding her true calling in acting, Chandra worked towards a mechanical engineering degree at Stanford, where she was a member of the university’s cheerleading squad and also served as the student body president in her senior year.
3. She was also a recipient of the prestigious Mayfield Fellows Program, which is given to tech entrepreneurs, and the Book Award, for her service and contribution to the university.
4. But she is more than your average geek. Chandra is a second-degree black belt in Shotokan Karate and a two-time bronze medalist in the Pan Asian Games, where she represented the United States in sparring as part of the United States Junior National Karate Team in Sao Paolo in 2000, Caracas in 2001 and Orlando in 2002.
5. At Stanford, Chandra participated in social entrepreneurship initiatives. In her freshman year, she volunteered at Jagriti Vihara, a non-government organization in Jharkhand, India. She then continued work for the NGO through her own co-founded Hospital for Hope, a non-profit providing health care services in rural India.
6. She modelled and competed for Miss India America 2007—and won, officially opening doors for her in the entertainment world.
7. For a brief period, she worked at McKinsey and Company as a Business Analyst.
8. Before starting her “real job” at McKinsey, she even worked for Sahara One, a major Indian network. She was the lead anchor for the channel’s show, “Bollywood Hollywood,” which was dedicated to the latest film news from the East and the West.
9. She debuted as a lead actress in 2012 Indian American independent romantic comedy film “Love, Lies and Seeta,” where she played Seeta. The movie premiered at the India International Film Festival (IIFF) of Tampa Bay. Additionally, despite the language barrier, she worked in a Tollywood movie “D for Dopidi.”
10. She is rising to prominence now with her plum roles in “The Brink” and “Code Black,” but she has been in the spotlight here in the west for a long time. Chandra has been featured as a model for numerous brands such as Bare Escentuals, Kohls, Crocs, and Verizon. She has also played prominent roles on American TV shows including “How to Make it in America,” “Rules of Engagement,” “The Nine Lives of Chloe King,” and “NCIS: Los Angeles.”