Role Model Priya Deva

Priya Deva



Listening & Respect – The Basis for an Acting Career

By Michelle Vasquez  |  Photography by David Teran


As a first-generation Southeast Asian Indian woman born in Canada and raised in the U.S., Priya Deva’s background has shaped her perspective. Multilingual and driven to succeed, she was captivated by the world, always aware of the importance of educational access and pursuing her true passion, performing. As a role model, Priya achieves that delicate balance we all strive for, staying true to who she is and having clear values based on listening and respect.


Priya credits her values to her immigrant parents. “My parents were unusual in that they always listened to and valued me, so I grew up trusting myself and my decisions,” she says.


While it was always a non-negotiable that she would go to college, she was captivated by the performing arts. Even while obtaining a degree in industrial engineering with a minor in mathematics and economics from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Priya continued performing. “I’ve been performing from age five, and the only time I stopped was to have a family.” 


She met the love of her life at university, established herself as an executive in the energy industry, and then went on to have a family. Now that her children have grown, she has pursued her passion for performing with full force. Landing roles in several films, she has proven her versatility, playing characters that starkly contrast her real-life demeanor, such as a seductress and villain.


Her current project includes a recent premiere at the Gasparilla International Film Festival. Her movie, Curry Scent, is about an extraordinarily wealthy Indian family where she plays the matriarch. A young woman, Geetha, an Indian immigrant, threatens to upend a perfect family life by setting her sights on the eldest son. The film is about the tug-of-war that ensues to keep the situation from progressing. “My character is the one you love to hate,” says Priya.


This spring, she was cast as the lead in an award-winning romantic comedy that follows a woman’s journey of self-discovery. Says Priya,” This story is unlike anything I’ve done, and it takes place on a ranch with cattle and horses.” The screenplay received the Nicholl’s Fellowship in Screenwriting, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. In addition, she has another streaming TV release, in which she plays a 75-year-old dead grandmother who, as a ghost, comes back to teach her granddaughter, an investment banker, some lessons.


As Priya reflects on her success, she credits her loyal family and friends. “I have a group of women and my family who support me 150% and lift me up in life,” she says. Her professional acting career took off due to supporting her youngest daughter, an actress and an accomplished athlete.


Priya inherited her parent’s values of listening and respect, so it’s no surprise that when her daughters insisted on being allowed to audition for Disney, Priya and her husband listened.


“Hard work met talent, met opportunity, met luck, and we realized the opportunity and jumped on it,” said Priya. Her daughters were discovered at the auditions by a well-known casting agent. As a stage mother supporting her daughter, the casting agent asked Priya, “What about you? Do you act? I have the perfect role for you! she said.”  “And the rest is history,” says Priya. You could say I’m a nepo-mom,” she laughs.


Priya’s oldest daughter pursued artistic endeavors in classical piano and competitive dance. When she happened upon Latin ballroom dance, she was smitten. She expressed interest in this path, and Priya and her husband were open to the idea. Her children’s needs and interests are dynamic entities.


One can’t help but notice that Priya’s daughters are examples of apples not falling far from the tree, with mutual listening, respect, confidence, and independence running through them. Marriage and family anchor that tree, echoing Priya’s childhood relationship with her parents.



Olivia Villa: Liv Beautified (makeup)

Dominic Alonzo: Dmadivo (hair)

Styled by: Tina Bhardwaj @iamladytin



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