By Tristan Day

Jordan OVO 12’s shoes. (Steven Cheung/T•)

An array of city lights is seen spread across the Mississauga skyline from the 34th floor of an apartment building.  If you looked inside the floor to ceiling windows, you would see a 20-year-old kid enjoying the luxuries of living alone and being caught up into the workings of their ascribed educational path. But in this case, you would be witnessing Canadian actor: Amir Bageria.

Amir positions himself in front of his white wall, found at the back of his apartment. As he stands in front of a ring light shining onto his face, he quickly adjusts his body to be directly in front of the tripod camera. He is about to film an audition tape for a television series. The process that landed him his latest role in Netflix’s Grand Army.

For Bageria, this a standard part of his day, but the 20-year-old does not back down from getting the opportunity to do what he is most passionate about. Becoming an actor has been Amir’s dream since he was eight, when he first performed the role of Macbeth in the local school play. But his interest in acting was influenced by the significance of his family, close relatives, and sports figures.

“Specifically, an uncle of mine in India was an accomplished singer, he had a major influence on me at a young age. And my brother Kabir, he was always performative growing up and went to Cawthra Park Secondary School. So, I followed in his footsteps and enrolled into the school’s Regional Arts Program (RAP) and majored in drama. Had he not gone there, I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” he says.

Although Bageria has many role models -one of his biggest inspirations is number eight on the Washington Capitals. Amir would dedicate majority of his free time watching his idol continuously battle and perform. This became a tremendous impact on Amir’s childhood. His mentality growing up was forever changed by aspiring to one day be as good at something, as Alex Ovechkin is at hockey.

At 14, Amir had his first ever audition for the show Degrassi: Next Class and obtained his reoccurring role for four seasons as ‘Baaz Nahir’.

Amir Bageria (14) on set of Degrassi: Next Class (Entertainment Weekly)

Amir’s hand clenched the door handle to his mom’s car as he stepped outside onto the road- quickly waving goodbye as he shut the car door behind him. He stared down at his denim jacket, nervously looking for any stains.

He had just arrived at the L.B. Acting Studio in Toronto for the first time and being only fourteen and having little-to-no connections, walking into a building full of young actors/actresses you did not know, was like entering a new school without any friends.  

“Hi, I’m supposed to be meeting with Lewis?” he squirmed to the girl seated behind the front desk. “Through the door and down the hall you’ll find him” she said.  Immediately Amir crept down the hallway, clenching the sweat between his fingers, before knocking on the wooden door at the end of the hall.

The door slowly opened, and he was welcomed by a warm smile. He had sat down across from Lewis Baumander, the head of the L.B. Acting Studio.

After a few minutes, Baumander grabbed three pens from his desk, clenched them in his palm and asked, “out of those three pens, which two are the most important, in your opinion, for being successful in this industry?”

The words “work ethic” were printed on the first pen. The second pen read “luck”. And the third pen read “talent”.

Amir pondered, struggling to decide- “I choose work ethic and talent,” he said. Amir’s eyes widened- surprised of Baumander’s answer. That having a strong work ethic is important, but you need to be extremely lucky.

Unlike most teenagers, Amir was attending regular high school classes and training at the L.B. Acting Studio outside of school. Bageria had spent more time focusing on acting than his regular high school classes.

“I was going to Lewis Baumander’s studio and training under Steven Yaffee. L.B. and Second City acting classes became a part of my weekly schedule for several years,” he said smiling.

Bageria and Yaffee had worked together weekly for three years, including prepping weekly for his role on ‘Grand Army’ that came out October 2020.

AMIR BAGERIA as SID PAKAM in episode 106 of GRAND ARMY. (NETFLIX © 2020)

“The very first thing I noticed about Amir was his unbelievable work ethic. He had a very clear view of how hard he needed to work from the start.” said Yaffee. “Amir had an inquisitive nature about how to get better and grow everyday, after every class or session we had, he’d be waiting to ask a number of questions. This was always a good thing.”

Amir finished high school early in February of 2018 ahead of his graduating year, so he could further pursue acting classes and workshops. Two years later, he moved to New York for  two months to study Shakespeare and other renowned plays, before landing his role as ‘Sid’ on ‘Grand Army.

“It was a really cool experience getting to film (Grand Army) in Mississauga for a big portion of the production. It was convenient; Mississauga has always been a part of my life and the fact that it I got to film here for a project that I admire so much, made it that much more special to me. So, it was definitely a surreal moment.”

The production required Amir to film in New York City and became his first experience filming in a different country.

Although Amir has achieved many of his own personal accolades, he stands by a certain list: ‘Things I’m Going to Do by 30’. The short list is stapled to the top of his  bulletin board, showing personal goals that he wants to achieve in his twenties. At the top of the list, he has written “writing a movie script,” something Amir has always thought about.

Whether its his work as the scrawny, nerdy, and socially awkward student on Degrassi or his closeted swim-team captain high-schooler on Grand Army, Amir has always strived to perform to the best of his ability.

“Pertaining back to that anecdote about luck, work ethic and talent, my high school teacher shared this quote with me that I try to abide by.” says Amir. ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’