Insomnia,” a five-part mini-series written and starring Vishaal Reddy, will explore the life of Nikhil Rao, a queer Indian-American in New York City, who works as a book editor by day and secretly moonlights as an escort. While introducing the plot to BuzzFeed staff, Reddy described the series as “as a coming-of-age story at heart.”
While much of this show is fictionalized, Reddy told BuzzFeed that he wanted to bring in some of his own life into the project “particularly in the discussions about race, identity, and sexuality.” Rao, the main character, is openly bisexual, “something that isn’t explored often on screen or stage,” Reddy told BuzzFeed. “Bisexual people often face judgement or monosexism when coming out and that’s frustrating to me — which is why I wanted to highlight this perspective,” he said. “We don’t usually see bisexual characters on screen, particularly from an Indian perspective so I thought this would add a unique element to the show and I would be able to draw from my own life.”
“Insomnia” is a half-hour, handheld, single-camera dramedy, Reddy’s website says. “Grounded in realism, yet with a character that breaks the fourth wall, the series explores the unique challenges of being an escort in the 21st century, while also delving into the themes of sexuality, race, and mental health,” the website says. Much of the series explores Rao’s struggle to balance his “real” life and his escort life.The series is scheduled to release this fall.
Born and raised in Johnson City, Tennessee, Reddy told Teal Mango that he grew up wanting to be an actor since he was 6. “Telling stories and immersing myself into characters is all I have ever wanted to do.” But when he started working professionally, he said he was disheartened by the lack of multidimensional parts for South Asian actors. “So a few friends and mentors urged me to start creating my own work in hopes to change this narrative,” he said.
Reddy continued performing in regional and community theater at the Barter Theater Company, Theater Bristol, and McCallie/GPS school productions. He pursued his undergraduate degree in business administration at Boston University, at the same time working on his theater and singing pursuits.
After moving to New York City, Reddy performed and studied with the Atlantic Theatre Company in the Conservatory Program and began performing in various productions throughout the city. He has worked on off-Broadway productions and as a chorus member at The Metropolitan Opera. Most recently, he was seen in Tennessee Williams's “Outcry” in the Off-Broadway Tamasha Festival.