When ABC began airing promos for their new sitcom “Alex, Inc.“, many viewers of South Asian descent immediately began paying attention. A new show featuring a mixed-race Indian-American family is not something we’re used to seeing every day. The show follows the family of Alex Schuman (who is played by Zach Braff) as he decides to leave his stable but boring job to begin his own podcasting company.
Alex’s wife Rooni is played by Tiya Sircar, who viewers may know from her roles on “The Good Place” and as the voice of Sabine Wren on the animated series “Star Wars Forces of Destiny.” We reached out to the Texas-born actress to ask about her new show, what it’s like working with Zach Braff, and how the role of Rooni is subverting sitcom stereotypes.
The Teal Mango: Congrats on the buzz “Alex, Inc” has been getting. A lot of South Asian viewers, in particular, have expressed their happiness that a family like theirs is finally on television. Can you tell us a little about what that means to you when you hear things like that?
Tiya Sircar: Thanks so much! I have been so moved by all the messages I have received (on social media, etc.) from people that are excited to finally see a family that looks like theirs on primetime network television! And also that they’re looking forward to watching the show with their kids who look like (some version of!) our kids on the show. As an Indian-American kid growing up in Texas, I was acutely aware of the fact that there wasn’t really anyone on any of the shows I watched who looked like me. So the fact that there are more and more South Asian actors and more importantly, specifically South Asian characters, being represented on TV and in film now is incredibly exciting. And I feel so grateful to be a part of that change.
TTM: I’ve heard you say that you are particularly happy that “Alex, Inc.” is a show that families can watch together. Why was that important to you?
Sircar: There is a wealth of terrific television being produced at the moment. Between network TV, cable, and streaming services, the amount of quality programming is remarkable. But there aren’t that many shows out there that a family can watch all together. So I feel that there’s a real need for a show like our where parents can watch with their children and everyone can enjoy the show for different reasons.
TTM: Zach Braff plays your husband Alex on the show. What’s something about Zach that might surprise fans?
Sircar: I’m not sure how surprising this is but once I got to know Zach, I was delighted to learn that he and Donald Faison are really BFFs in real life. The Scrubs fan in me was overjoyed! And no joke, they are so close. Like, if I see Zach on set texting someone, there is an 70-80% chance that it’s Donald. Their bromance is adorable.
TTM: Elisha Henig and Audyssie James, the two young actors who play your kids on the show, are really wonderful. What’s it like working with child actors regularly?
Sircar: Working with child actors can sometimes have its challenges but these two, in particular, are just great. They’re both so professional and so well-suited to their respective roles! And they both have incredible comedic timing which is really impressive given that they’re both so young.
TTM: Finally, your character Rooni is a successful lawyer. I thought it was really great that Alex seemed to do a lot of the household tasks that are traditionally coded as ‘feminine’ (helping the kids buy costumes for school projects, for example.) Did you like playing off those stereotypical parental roles?
Sircar: Yes! I love that we turn traditional gender roles on their head a bit on our show. Alex’s previous job as a radio producer allowed for more flexible hours than Rooni’s. So he took on more of the day-to-day parenting responsibilities like chaperoning field trips and getting the kids ready for bed each night. And now that Alex is super busy starting his own company, Rooni has to step up and take on more of those tasks but finds that she’s a little rusty. So we see her trying to figure it out as she goes, even resorting to calling her husband for tips. So, I love that she’s not a typical mom who seemingly has all the answers all the time. She’s just doing the best she can to raise her kids, support her husband in his endeavors, and still kick ass in her own career as a public defender!
Alex, Inc. airs on Wednesdays at 8:30pm on ABC.
Images courtesy Tony Rivetti/ABC.