SikhLEAD Superstar of the Month: Gurpreet Singh SarinMay 9th, 2017
To celebrate our amazing past and present SikhLEADers, we will be highlighting a participant every month, showcasing their achievements, challenges, goals and aspirations. Our SikhLEAD alumni have gone on to do amazing things, from engaging in creative or entrepreneurial efforts, to empowering their local communities, to being leaders for social justice or political change.
This month, and as our first SikhLEADer featured, we interviewed Gurpreet Singh Sarin, the lead actor in the play “The Fabulous Lipitones.” Gurpreet was a participant in the inaugural SikhLEAD Leadership Development Program (LDP).
Gurpreet, tell us about your journey in the arts.
I grew up in an incredibly musically inclined family. I’ve been singing, doing kirtan, and playing instruments since I was young. My family and I perform shabad kirtan locally as the “Raag Rattan Jatha”. I feel lucky to do what I do because I not only get to do something I love, but also represent my faith and culture on a global scale.
How did you come across “The Fabulous Lipitones”?
It was actually a very exciting and serendipitous opportunity. I began looking into theatre performance opportunities, when a local casting agency suggested I consider community theatre. Though my callback audition for one theatre company didn’t go super well, I managed to find another theatre, The Little Theatre of Alexandria, that was actually looking for someone to play a Sikh! This play is rare in that I actually get to play the role of what I am, an observant Sikh.
What is “The Fabulous Lipitones” about?
“The Fabulous Lipitones” is a play about the journey of a barbershop quartet as they get ready to compete in a National singing competition. What makes this play so unique is that it’s incredibly relevant to our current political atmosphere, with a focus on topics such as immigration and racism. It’s a story about a Sikh American man who joins a barbershop quartet as an unlikely fit, but ends up forging strong friendships with the other men. I’m lucky to work with an amazing group of cast and crew on this project.
What are your plans after “The Fabulous Lipitones”?
I participated in “The Fabulous Lipitones” to explore acting, and I’m excited to continue exploring this realm. I’m also looking forward to focusing on my musical career, particularly the fusion of R&B, soul, acoustic, and Indian music. I want to start collaborating with other artists, writing original songs, releasing new content, and performing.
What do you love to do?
I genuinely like to make people smile, dance, and laugh. I’m passionate about learning of others’ passions and encouraging others to follow their dreams. I am also passionate about constantly motivating people not to judge a book by its cover.
Have you faced any prejudice in the acting and singing world?
For the most part, I’ve been fortunate to be around people who have understood Sikhism and my culture. I feel fully embraced by the cast and crew of the play I am currently acting in. After I auditioned for American Idol, I received a ton of support from the local, national, and international South Asian community. However, I did also receive racist and bigoted remarks, particularly on social media. There is a lot more progress that can be made, but I am happy to be on the side that’s pushing forward and encouraging diversity in the arts.
What role has SALDEF played in your journey?
I’m thankful for SALDEF for being so committed to shedding light on leaders who are pursuing their passions. SALDEF has supported me throughout my journey. They were vigilant about addressing misconceptions about Sikhs and Sikhi immediately after my American Idol audition, and were just as vigilant about ensuring the community heard about my participation in the show. Many of the SALDEF staff have become personal mentors and friends of mine. They even attended a showing of “The Fabulous Lipitones”.
SALDEF employees Amrita Bamrah (left) and Zoya Singh (right) with Gurpreet
Tell us about your SikhLEAD experiences.
Through the SikhLEAD Leadership Development Program, I developed life-long friendships. It’s been 6 years since I was a participant, but I still regularly connect with the friends I made during SikhLEAD.
LDP allowed us to reflect on things we were passionate about, and encouraged us to do some of soul-searching that ultimately helped me uncover my passion for music. Interestingly enough, the first time I announced my interest in auditioning for American Idol was during LDP weekend!
What is your biggest motivation in life?
To continue pursuing my passions and aspirations, and inspire the next generation of leaders, and break down barriers!
“The Fabulous Lipitones” will be playing at the Little Theatre of Alexandria through the rest of the week and weekend. You can buy tickets here.
Make sure you check it out and support our youth and the arts!
If you’d like to support the next wave of Sikh American leaders, please visit our website.