Rekha Sharma, who plays Tory Foster on the SciFi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica,” did not always want to be an actress. Born in Vancouver, Canada, to Indian parents born in Fiji, she leaned more towards the musical punk side of her creative mind after developing a love of music.
With the sounds of David Bowie and Bauhaus providing the soundtrack for her adolescent romps through Canadian forests, it was clear a future of tours and gigs was where Sharma was headed. But as her teenage years began, a love of acting began to manifest itself.
“I was going through life after graduating from high school trying to figure out all my shit,” Sharma said. Upon graduating, she enrolled in the Emily Carr Institute of Design, inspired by the likes of Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. In a continued youthful attempt to find her career path, she also earned a Holistic Counselor Certification from the West Coast College of Massage Therapy soon after.
It was then that Sharma decided to devote herself to the pursuit of acting as a career choice. She knew the odds were stacked against her as an Indian woman in a predominantly white industry.
She trained at Ivana Chubbuck Acting Studio, and later the Lyric School of Acting. She acted in roles on the cult classic series “The Lone Gunmen” (2001), and “Dark Angel” (2002), along with parts in well-known series such as “The Twilight Zone” (2002) and “John Doe” (2003). Pretty soon she had secured the part of Dr. Harden on the series “Smallville” (2006).
Her auditions and unique career choices got her noticed, because soon she was filming on the sets of the major motion pictures “The Core” (2003), and “The Chronicles of Riddick” (2004), then on Showtime’s “The L Word (2004). Finally, she landed her a role on the award-winning show “Battlestar Galactica” (2006).
“Battlestar Galactica” is a re-imagining of the original 1978 television series of the same name. It follows the last remaining human refugees who fled their home world after a nuclear disaster.
On the show, Sharma’s character Tory is an aid to the president, played by actress Mary McDonnell. In this season of the show, plot twists involving Sharma’s character have garnered mixed reactions from fans.
Sharma said she often finds herself defending her character’s actions, after she was revealed to be a Cylon, part of the race of robots and human-looking cyborgs who launched the apocalyptic nuclear attack. In the story, the Cylons’ ultimate goal is to pursue the last of humanity and wipe them out.
“I think even Tory the Cylon is still human,” she said. “If you look at all the characters on the show, they’ve been starved, hunted, homeless, dying, imprisoned and after all that, they’re still living together in space. Sometimes what is seen as evil under one circumstance, will seem the most humane thing to do in another.”
In terms of filming, Sharma said it’s Tory’s on-screen romance that cause her more stress than her character’s moral dilemmas.
“Love scenes are extremely anxiety-filled,” she admits, “especially being half-dressed in front of the film crew. But, hopefully our hard work shows through on screen.”
The recent strike by the Writers Guild of America left shows like “Battlestar” at a stand-still. Many actors and crew members in the industry were left without work. Sharma used the break to work on other projects and to spend some time at home in Vancouver. She recalled an awkward dinner with other Battlestar Galactica cast members where no one was even sure if the show would even return.
She also began to focus more on humanitarian work. “I was lucky to grow up with such loving parents,” she said, “whom showed me how to be humble, so I can help those in need.” She supports various charities, including helping victims of 2005 Hurricane Katrina, and victims of the 2006 tsunami in Southeast Asia. She has even supported, through donations of time and money, womens’ shelters across Vancouver. In the past she has given free acting lessons to youth in Vancouver.
As Battlestar Galactica draws to its finale, Sharma is keeping herself busy with a role in “Traveling”, a film in post-production starring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart due out in the fall. Although Sharma acknowledges an off-screen romance, when asked about a significant other she would not reveal any details. She said her significant other has kept her grounded and her newly-acquired and much larger sci-fi fan base is making her focus more intensely on the quality of her performances.
Looking ahead, Sharma said she is taking her acting career one role at a time.