Actor, Writer, Musician, and NAMI Ambassador
2019 should prove to be quite a year for multi-hyphenate Utkarsh Ambudkar, one of the freshest, smartest, most relevant voices in the business right now.
Following his pivotal, largely improvised scene in the middle of last year’s opening night entry Blindspotting, Ambudkar returned to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival with a breakout performance opposite Jillian Bell in the US Dramatic Competition comedy Brittany Runs a Marathon. Ambudkar is the romantic lead to the titular character, an underachieving hot mess of a 27-year-old woman who decides to take control of her life – one New York City block at a time. Brittany Runs a Marathon marks the directorial debut of award-winning playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo. Material Pictures’ Tobey Maguire and Matthew Plouffe and Picture Films’ Margot Hand produce.
Ambudkar most recently completed work in New Zealand on Mulan, the live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1998 animated feature from director Niki Caro. Based on a Chinese legend, the film follows the rise of Mulan during the Han Dynasty, when the daughter of a legendary warrior impersonated a man to fight against a Hun invasion. Ambudkar plays con artist Skatch. Disney will release Mulan on March 27, 2020.
Ambudkar’s film credits also include Universal’s Ride Along 2 with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, with whom he also co-starred in Barbershop 3, and Game Over, Man!
A rapper and creative force from a young age, Ambudkar was an original member of The Beatards, a NYC-based underground hip-hop group (early aughts) that performed alongside acts like Santigold, Azealia Banks, G-Easy, Public Enemy, Questlove and more. His work with The Beatards eventually helped Ambudkar land the role of Donald, a member of the competitive Treblemakers in Pitch Perfect, with Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, and Rebel Wilson.
Following Pitch Perfect, Ambudkar snagged the role of Rishi in The Mindy Project. More recently for television, he played Raj, a young, charismatic announcer pitted against Hank Azaria’s Brockmire in the second season of the IFC series. Ambudkar’s TV credits also include Showtime’s White Famous, where he regularly stole scenes as a Hollywood agent, House of Lies, with Don Cheadle, TNT’s Legends, a recurring arc on ABC’s The Muppets and a guest role on Hulu’s anthology series Dimension 404.
In 2016, Ambudkar played Apu’s nephew Jay, the first Indian-American actor to lend his voice to The Simpsons. A year later, in comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem with Apu (2017), Ambudkar discussed the cultural ripple effects of one of the few Indian characters on TV.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Ambudkar trained at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. While in New York, he acted in various plays and received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for his work in Animals Out of Paper, by Rajiv Joseph at the Second Stage Theatre.
Originating the role of Aaron Burr in the developmental readings of Hamilton, Ambudkar later reunited with Lin-Manuel Miranda as part of the improvisational rap group Freestyle Love Supreme, named in tribute to the John Coltrane jazz suite. Accompanied by keyboards and beats, the group performs spoken and sung numbers that are created in real time based on suggestions from the audience. The group performed at a variety of festivals and venues around the world and episodes ran on Pivot in 2014 and Seeso two years later. From January 30 to March 2 this year, Ambudkar and his cohorts will reconvene for Freestyle Love Supreme’s sustained Off Broadway run at the Greenwich House Theater. Thomas Kail (Hamilton, In the Heights) directs and produces along with Miranda, Jill Furman and Jon Steingart.
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