‘One Day’ Star Ambika Mod on Chemistry, Self-Doubt, and Adding Her ‘Own Flavor’ to a Classic Character

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The presence of intimacy coordinators, Katharine Hardman and Elle McAlpine, was another aid. (McAlpine also worked on Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things.) “We all sat down and had a really in-depth discussion about the relationship, about what the intimacy in that relationship would look like, about how it evolves, how it differs from the intimacy in other relationships,” Mod says. “I’d never thought about sex and intimacy in that way before, but it was so revealing and so helpful.” She can hardly wait for the Dexter and Emma stans to hit the internet. “It would be an honor and a privilege if some 15-year-old girl somewhere decides to spend the day cutting me and Leo into a nice, succinct TikTok.”

Still, One Day feels, more than anything, like Emma’s story: Everyone’s met an Emma, or, more likely, feels like an Emma—whip-smart, funny, and passionate, but also insecure and unsure of her life’s purpose. “She is the character that everyone who reads the book relates to,” Mod says. In her many conversations with showrunner Nicole Taylor, they discussed creating an Emma that “was as funny and as smart as possible, because that’s her power, that’s her currency—her intelligence and her wit,” Mod continues. “There’s something very British about her sense of humor and about her temperament. That was something that I was really eager to make obvious in this adaptation. In many ways, I hope I bring my own flavor to Emma as well.”

Indeed, as the British-born daughter of Indian immigrants, Mod had hesitated to audition, in part, because it remains so rare for Brown and Black women to be cast in major literary adaptations. Though there is no direct reference to Emma’s race in the book, it’s assumed that she is white—something Hathaway’s appearance in the film only served to reinforce. Mod feels that she internalized that kind of bias growing up. “There was so much of me that didn’t see myself playing this role. I think that was a result of messaging that had been fed to me, as well as my own internal dialogue,” she says. “It took a lot of self-convincing, a lot of wrapping my head around it, [even] well into the shoot. I wasn’t convinced that me and Leo were a believable Emma and Dexter, and that was all to do with me not feeling like I belonged.”

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Jose Reber

Jose Reber is a professional writer based in Wisconsin. He guides editorial teams consisting of writers across the US to help them become more skilled and diverse writers. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

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