The sole South Asian Lead on Global TV’s Nurses, Sandy Sidhu Discusses Diversity in the Media: “We Need Diversity to Become a Given”

Global TV’s Nurses Actor Sandy Sidhu Speaks up on Diversity in the Media

Sandy Sidhu walked into the audition room knowing exactly what she wanted to do. She knew exactly how she wanted to read her script and how she wanted to portray her character. Sidhu says that auditioning for Global TV’s new show Nurses was “unusual”, but there was something about the character that just made sense to her.

Global’s new original drama series Nurses follows five young nurses who work on the frontlines of a busy downtown Toronto hospital. The nurses struggle to find a work-life balance and attempt to build new relationships with their patients, relatives, and each other. Amongst this young team of nurses is Nazneen Khan who is played by Sidhu.

This is Sidhu’s first major role in television and she says that this was not something that she had ever imagined doing when she was younger.

“I never considered art as a career. It didn’t even cross my mind,” she says. “I thought about following my mother’s footsteps so I enrolled to UBC and studied biology. I was acting at the same time, and eventually, I realized I loved acting more and had to really listen to my heart.”

Not only is this Sidhu’s first major role in a television series, but her character draws a parallel with her mom’s journey in leaving India to become a nurse in Canada.

“I would say Nazneen and my mother are totally different in personality and behaviour, however, they are parallel in that they are both pioneers to move countries for a better life. Both my Mom and Nazneen are incredibly courageous.”

Sidhu says that she grew up being heavily involved in arts, however she did have some doubts about acting in the beginning of her career and “never thought my [her] success was inevitable.”

“I never saw examples of myself on TV growing up so I felt a little crazy pursuing acting,” she says. “I had a lot of self-doubt and a part of that definitely stemmed from not having enough examples of South Asians. No one looked like me. I always cherished seeing anyone from our community, even if it was just a line, it always lit me up.”

A 2019 study done by Women in View found that only 47 of 3,026 television contracts were given to women of colour between 2014-2017. Sidhu says that she’s extremely grateful to have the platform that she has and wants to push for more diversity in the industry.

“The goal in our industry is for one day to not have to push for diversity because it is considered a given. We need diversity to become a given,” she says. “It’s not that way yet, so that’s what we strive for and fight for. Every face matters and helps, so hopefully mine edges us towards more inclusivity.”

Sidhu continues to say that this role has been a life changing experience for her and is an “enormous privilege” to be able to be a woman of colour that young children can look up to.  

“If I have the ability to positively affect just one person by seeing me on screen, then that’s everything. With every face we see, we support the idea of self-acceptance, self-belief, and following your dreams,” she says. “Know that you are enough and you don’t need to be like anyone else. Believe in yourself. Your voice is important.”