Published: Friday, 09 February 2024 14:27 | Written by Jamie Ruby
This season on Transplant, actress Rekha Sharma joined the cast as Dr. Neeta Devi, Bishop (John Hannah)’s replacement as the chief of the emergency department at York Memorial. Devi has changes in mind for the way the department is run, prioritizing a patient first approach to medicine, but changes can be hard, and not everyone is on board, her position often causing tension among the staff. In tonight’s all-new episode, the season finale, Devi must stand behind her choices and hope that she can get the back up from her superiors she needs.
Earlier in the week, SciFi Vision spoke with Sharma about her character, including some of the choices Devi’s made, what’s to come, and more, plus how working on the fan favorite Battlestar Galactica changed her life.
Watch the interview and read the transcript below, and be sure to watch the season finale, tonight on NBC.
SCIFI VISION: To start off, thinking back a little bit, obviously, she believes in the patients and kind of putting them first. But do you think that maybe she should have thought it through a little bit more, communicated things a little bit better with the nurses, that kind of thing to maybe make things go smoother?
REKHA SHARMA:I mean, I think that is part of the learning curve. She's attempting to do something that has never been really done before, certainly hasn't been done in the US. Then, she goes to Canada, where she feels like, “okay, maybe things can really change here,” given that their system is so far ahead in so many ways. She doesn't know what she's doing. I don't think anyone would in that situation. So yeah, a bit of trial by fire, for sure.
I don't want to necessarily say the best advocate, but Mags is the one that that agrees the most with what [Devi’s] doing. Who is it up somebody that would be a surprise, like not somebody [viewers] would expect, but that you think maybe would be the person that moving into season four she needs to get on her side to make things run a little smoother?
I mean, in an ideal world, her boss, played by the lovely Rick Roberts. It would be great to get him on her side, because he has more power. Obviously, Dr. Mark Novak (Gord Rand), I think, would be another great person to have on her side, but she doesn't. He's got his own agenda. [laughs]
Very, very true. So, through a lot of this season, she's worried about them backing her up, because they don't always…follow through with [it] after she makes decisions. Do you feel like by the end of the season that they are more on her side, her bosses, than they were? I mean, do you feel like they're finally there? Or is it still kind of a big disconnect?
I think it's a huge disconnect. Honestly, I think it's gotten worse throughout the season. I think they, like her, had more of an idealistic vision of how it could go in the beginning and didn't realize that, like any kind of growth, there are growing pains. They wanted her to change things in a smooth and easy way, and I feel like, oh my God, I relate to that so much. I think we all in life want things to go as smoothly as possible, and I think it's unrealistic.
Can you tease a bit of what is coming for her in the season finale and in season four?…Whatever you're allowed to say without giving too too much away.
I mean, things definitely get really heightened. The problems the hospital are facing and become glaringly more apparent. They have to deal with a problem that they didn't even know about. So, one of our staff is attacked, brutally attacked, and that brings a lot of things to light. I don't think you can know how bad a situation is until something like that happens. Then, you really have to take a good hard look at what's going on in your work environment to address that. I think that's an exciting thing for the viewers to watch and a brutal thing to go through in reality.
Thinking back to the beginning when you started, I just was curious, like, what was some of your prep for this? I assume you did a good bit of research before doing a role like this? What was some of that like?
Yeah, I mean, it was pretty fast and furious, because like it is often with these jobs, it's like you book it, and then a week later, you're flying to another place [and] you start shooting right away. I tried to, of course, talk to the creators as much as possible, and definitely got some consults with real life doctors in Canada to talk about a lot of the institutional issues that we're facing. There's a lot of wonderful things about universal health care in Canada, and there are a lot of systemic problems, certainly exacerbated by the pandemic. I think, all over the world, medical professionals have really taken a beating from what we went through with COVID. But yes, I did a bunch of research, and it was really exciting to learn about a lot of the structural sort of administrative problems that have a direct impact on healthcare, the ability to provide health care to citizens. It's honestly heartbreaking to learn about that. But also like, okay, once you know what to do, then hopefully, you can make some change.
Was there anything that you had problems, character-wise, connecting with as you got into the role?
No, I think great writing makes these problems that these characters face universal. I think we can all relate to the difficulties that these characters face as an audience member. So, certainly, I had no issues at all, and that's great writing.
Did you have anything outside of the character that you found difficult at all? I mean, you don't really have the medical stuff that I know a lot of them have.
Thankfully, I don't. I mean, it is hard. It takes some imagination to imagine…having that level of responsibility to take care of a department that deals with the urgencies of people's lives, and that's intense, trying to run a department like that. Like, my character is way more of a badass.
Let me ask you, is there anything you learned? Other than you're not as much of a badass, is there anything you learned about yourself, either acting or just in general, from the role?
Yeah, I think roles like this are empowering, because we are playing characters that are living huge lives, taking on great responsibilities. So, you do have to wear those shoes and kind of learn how to do that. I mean, granted without the actual real life stakes, but you have to imagine them. I do think roles like this can make you stronger and believe in yourself more and yeah, and what you're capable of.
What do you look for, in a role specifically?
Humanity…I think humanity is what we all need to see in our storytelling, what we crave as viewers to feel like we're okay, that we're not in this alone, whatever it is that we're going through in ourselves, and I think that's the power of storytelling. So, that is for sure what I look for.
…You have [a lot of roles] you've done. I know I first saw you in Battlestar Galactica…What's what's been your favorite, or do you have a favorite of kind of all that you've accomplished over the years?
I mean, they all have their charms, but you do mention one of the absolute greatest shows I've ever worked on, Battlestar Galactica. It changed my life. It was profound storytelling, and it still has a special place in my heart as my favorite. I don't know if that will ever change, given the time that it happened in my life and the enormity of its impact.
You said had a profound impact. How did it change your life?… What does that mean to you?
It opened doors in my career that I hadn't opened before, for sure. Because at that time, television was not what it is today. It was one of the first shows that was shot in much more of a filmic style, like a lot of things are now; it was bold. I mean, they won a Peabody Award for the writing. It's was such a pivotal show at that time to just show people what could be done in television. So, that was groundbreaking. It was a groundbreaking TV series. Then, it was my first big series regular role where I got to do something really exciting. I got to discover that writing can be that good on television, that I could work with Academy Award nominated actors and incredible artists on every level, every department. It was such an excellent show. And then [I] also made friends and family for life.
Do you have something that you would still really like love to do, either a certain kind of role or some type of character you'd like to play or anything like that? Like, where are you still aspiring to get to?
Absolutely. I have many, many aspirations. There're a lot of different genres that I love as an actor that I'd love to sink my teeth into. I'd say high up on the top of the list is more dramady, dramatic comedic roles.
Yeah, this isn't a real comedic role, or a real comedic show.
No, and I haven't delved into that as much. But like, The Big Lebowski is probably one of my favorite movies ever, and then everything that Christopher Guest has made: Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, Mighty Wind. I love that brand of humor so much. So, that's a big dream to work in, something more like that. And dramedy like Fleabag or something. That would be a dream.
…Do you have anything else that you that is in the can that you're waiting for to come out that you can promote?
Unfortunately, the thing that I'm working on right now, I can't talk about yet, but yeah, that'll be coming out soon. I'll say it's on Fox. Then, yeah, I'm wide open for for something else, too. So, I'm excited to see what comes down the pipe.
I asked you like what kind of role, but is there anybody specifically you'd really like to work with, either director, actor, whatever, that you just haven't yet that is kind on the top of your list?
I mean, yeah, there's there're a lot of people for sure. Christopher Guest, in terms of filmmaker, Jeff Bridges, I'm a huge fan of his work. I mean, Meryl Streep. There're a lot of people I'd love to work with, all the great actors.