When Richa Gangopadhyay walks across the stage to receive her Olin MBA diploma in May, the flashing cameras and applause probably won’t faze her. The former Bollywood A-list actress left a 5-year film career in India, millions of fans and paparazzi to return home to Michigan, finish college, and go to business school. Richa shares her exceptional journey from suburban Indo-American girl-to-actress-to-Olin, in a profile on the Poets and Quants website. Here are some excerpts:
Behind the glitz and glamour of Bollywood: hard work
“There’s a lot of glamour, glitz, and money (of course), but being an actress was very, very intense. There was a lot of hard work. You were “on,” quote-unquote, 24-7…I used to have 17-hour workdays. It was incredibly demanding. There were actually times when I would find myself shooting four films simultaneously and that was in addition to doing celebrity appearances, modeling for ramp shows, and traveling internationally for shoots. That was a whirlwind, in and of itself.”
Richa’s first movie called Leader (trailer above) was an international box-office hit. Leader. It was a political drama where she played the role of a news reporter who was also the love interest of the protagonist. It was released in 2010 and made her famous overnight in India.
Why Richa chose Olin:
“I actually came to Olin to do my interview in person. That is what helped me narrow in only on Olin as my top choice. There is something to be said about the Olin community. It’s incredibly close-knit and there’s just this sense of camaraderie among the students and the faculty that really appealed to me. It has a real eclectic blend of students from different backgrounds. It wasn’t just different professional backgrounds, but different thought leaders as well. For me, an appeal was being able to share my unique experiences in a business realm as a film actress. I have a really divergent perspective to share through the practical learning opportunities that I had. I felt that Olin would really help me bring out my out-of-the-boxness (if that’s a word) and let me gain some critical business skills at the same time.”
On competition vs. collaboration:
One thing that I’ve learned is that it is really important to encourage your peers instead of being in constant competition with them — and Olin has really provided that kind of environment. Everyone is incredibly collaborative and the networking here is just insane.