Photos with Rao Rampilla
How did a diplomat and an international attorney end up becoming an actor in Hollywood? That's a good question to ask Rao Rampilla, an American Actor based in New York City. He comes from a town called Vijayawada in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India. If anyone told had him before he came to the United States that he would be an actor making a living in America, he himself would have been surprised. His imagination has roots from the stories told to him by his aunt when he was a child. Read more... night sitting before an old table in front of a kerosene lamp. Rao published them next day in his paper "Jai Andhra Vaani" in support of the movement of the Telugu speaking people. In the final days of college, he even learned Carnatic music from a local teacher and played the role of a poet in the play "Neeru Poyandi" (Water it). That's where he was artistically grounded. It's a common practice that during October (Dasara festivals) common people paint themselves as monkeys and tigers and play in the streets to the sound of drums. Thinking it is below their dignity, his family discouraged him against his wishes to play the tiger or the monkey during the Dasara celebrations. Perhaps, that's where his playfulness lies. Having discouraged from doing monkey business or be a poet or a musician, he turned to the law. While in 2nd year of his law school, Rao was inspired by his professor and a Legal Adviser to Bahrain to become an International Attorney. So inspired he left a corrupt govt. job that he got selected that summer through general competition and pursued his dream. After graduating from the University of Madras, he joined the Nehru University in New Delhi through the national competition. However, when he is set to finish his Doctorate in International Law, he chose to fight against discrimination and for affirmative action for Untouchables (Dalits). He ended up participating on an indefinite hunger strike at the Nehru University trying to secure social justice for the downtrodden. As you can imagine trouble was on the horizon and an expulsion issued. You would have thought Rao would then become a politician in India with the name and recognition he got. Instead, he choose to come to the USA and pursued his dream to become an international attorney. After studying with Late Dean Rusk, a former Secretary of State with JFK Administration, he reached New York. There he stumbled into Native Americans and he joined the Seneca Nation of Indians in their fight for self-determination and won a case for them on Casino gambling. When he returned to NYC he got into the office of Legal Affairs, UN on the 34th floor of the United Nations having written a model affirmative action legislation for women in Latin America for the United Nations Development Program. After a stint as a Special Counsel and a diplomat with Indonesia on war-crime issues, he moved on to work in and around the World Trade Center. He was there on September 11, 2001. Again his career took an unexpected turn. Learning that he was there nearly penniless two women sent him for an audition. He went and smiled and booked the, Superbowl Visa Commercial with Kevin Bacon and that's how he became an actor. Realizing that his Superbowl smile was not enough, he studied with Alan Arkin in his workshops in Santa Fe, Hawaii, New York and upon his advice has been working with Austin Pendleton of the Steppenwolf Theatre for the past 5 years studying classics including Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov. After an audition, Adam Sandler him a chance to be on the set for That's My Boy. While on the set, Mr. Sandler liked what Rao did and rewrote his part and gave him an extensive part working on the movie on and off for 3 months. That's how my friends, Rao became an actor in Hollywood. Consequently, he got invited to Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals. Then he traveled all over Europe exploring the roots of the American Acting. So it's not a surprise that he is having the time of his life and aspiring to play a role such as Dr. Zhivago.