Actress Sunetra Sarker has revealed she “didn’t want to be Indian” when she was a child.
The 46-year-old said she used to “resent” aspects of her culture and wanted her family to “look like everyone else’s”.
Talking to The Mirror, the Ackley Bridge star said: “I regret not being more proud and interested in my heritage as a young girl. I didn’t want to be Indian.
“I wanted to be as white as I could be, and for my family to look like everybody else's.
“But I wish I’d thought, ‘Wow, I’m the only brown girl in this classroom,’ because now everything I resented I see as a bonus.”
Sarker revealed being “the only brown girl” in the class didn’t stop her from getting up to mischief: “I was always on report. I was so mischievous and naughty, but I’ve learnt how to be a well-behaved adult. I went to a small school with classes of 15 and I’d be the ringleader for all the pranks.
“Every time the teacher turned around I’d make everyone move their desks forward a few inches and in 10 minutes we’d all be piled up at the front.”
The former Strictly Come Dancing contestant also discussed the role her parents had on her decision to pursue a career in acting. She said: “My mum opened very unusual doors when I was younger, because she was an Indian dancer. In the 1980s, that was unheard of.
“She started up dance classes for those with disabilities, she went into prisons teaching dance, she visited dementia care homes, taking Indian dance to unusual places, which is why she was awarded an MBE for being such a trailblazer.
“I travelled all over with her and remember feeling very cool and exotic, even though often I was just somewhere like Coventry. My dad was cool too, a very well-respected doctor.”
She added: “My parents always said to me, ‘Go and be brilliant, but be good at what you do.’
I hope that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge continues at 8pm on Tuesday.