2021 should prove to be quite a year for multihyphenate Utkarsh Ambudkar, one of the freshest, smartest, most relevant voices in the business right now. In addition to GHOSTS, Ambudkar co-stars in the upcoming 20th Century feature, “Free Guy,” opposite Ryan Reynolds, Taika Waititi, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, and Lil Rel Howery. Later in the year, he joins the casts of the Netflix series “Never Have I Ever” and “Special.” Next year, Ambudkar will be seen in Universal’s romantic comedy “Marry Me,” starring Jennifer Lopez.
Ambudkar’s film credits include the Sundance darlings “Blindspotting” and “Brittany Runs a Marathon.” His features’ resume also includes Universal’s “Ride Along 2” with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, with whom he also co-starred in “Barbershop 3,” “Game Over,” “Man!,” “The Broken Heart Gallery” and “Godmothered.”
A rapper and creative force from a young age, Ambudkar was an original member of The Beatards, a NYC-based underground hip-hop group (early aughts) that performed alongside acts such as Santigold, Azealia Banks, G-Easy, Public Enemy, Questlove and more. His work with the Beatards eventually helped Ambudkar land the role of Donald, a member of the competitive Treblemakers in “Pitch Perfect,” with Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks and Rebel Wilson.
Following “Pitch Perfect,” Ambudkar snagged the role of Rishi in “The Mindy Project.” More recently for television, he played Raj, a young, charismatic announcer pitted against Hank Azaria’s “Brockmire” in the second season of the IFC series. Ambudkar’s television credits also include Showtime’s “White Famous,” where he regularly stole scenes as a Hollywood agent, “House of Lies,” with Don Cheadle, TNT’s “Legends,” a recurring arc on ABC’s “The Muppets” and a guest role on Hulu’s anthology series “Dimension 404.” In 2016, Ambudkar played Apu’s nephew Jay, the first Indian-American actor to lend his voice to “The Simpsons.” A year later, in comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary, “The Problem with Apu,” Ambudkar discussed the cultural ripple effects of one of the few South Asian characters on television.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Ambudkar trained at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. While in New York, he acted in various plays and received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for his work in “Animals Out of Paper,” by Rajiv Joseph at the Second Stage Theatre.
Originating the role of Aaron Burr in the developmental readings of “Hamilton,” Ambudkar later reunited with Lin-Manuel Miranda as part of the improvisational rap group Freestyle Love Supreme, named in tribute to the John Coltrane jazz suite. Accompanied by keyboards and beats, the group performs spoken and sung numbers that are created in real-time based on suggestions from the audience. The group performed at a variety of festivals and venues around the world and episodes ran on Pivot in 2014 and Seeso two years later. Ambudkar and his cohorts reconvened for Freestyle Love Supreme’s Broadway run at the Booth Theater to rave reviews. Thomas Kail (“Hamilton,” “In the Heights”) directed and produced along with Miranda, Jill Furman and Jon Steingart. The filmed version recently garnered a Grammy Award nomination.
Ambudkar’s debut album, “Vanity,” dropped in 2019 and was quickly followed by “Petty.” In 2020, he released “The Misfits EP” and single “Self Respect.” His brand of raw and melodic hip-hop addresses race, the first-generation immigrant experience, politics and Hollywood, and also features Ambudkar’s old rap crew, including Miranda, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, and a variety of South Asian artists such as Das Racist’s Heems, Brooklyn Shanti, Kaly and Samora Pinderhughes.
His birthday is Dec. 8, He can be followed on Twitter and Instagram @UTKtheINC.