Didnt want to DI Ray star shares concerns over portraying ‘racist’ role in ITV series

DI Ray official first look trailer from ITV

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On Monday, the new ITV cop drama DI Ray will begin and will run over four executive nights. The series will star Bend It Like Beckham star Parminder Nagra, who will play the lead female detective Rachita. While facing the challenges of being promoted and working with a new team, the Jed Mercurio drama will also explore casual racism and ignorance in the workplace.

However, speaking in a new interview, actress Gemma discussed her fears about how her character Kerry may come across to viewers at home.

She explained DCI Kerry Henderson doesn’t warm to DI Ray because she feels she doesn’t deserve the promotion.

Although, when asked whether she thought there was an element of racism in her character, the actress admitted she was “concerned about it.”

“Maybe the intention was that I was supposed to portray that and it could be perceived as that,” she explained.

Gemma continued: “I was very clear from the start that I didn’t want to play those notes and that it was purely about rank and file and where she belongs and that DI Ray had sort of made a jump she wasn’t ready for.

“But, you know, it’s interesting to see that some audience members may perceive that and that there’s also a race element to it.

“And again, what Jay [Jamie Bamber] was saying the subtlety of it, it’s woven in a hopefully subtle way that she could be perceived as being racist.

“But perhaps as me getting in the way, I didn’t want to portray a character that was racist.”

“As Jay was saying, we were all changing so quickly, and we were very sort of woke people,” the actress added to Express and other press in a Q&A.

“That’s quite a difficult thing to think you’re going to have to portray, so I made a decision early on that that was not what I was going to deliver.”

The actress who plays leading lady DI Ray, went on to praise the show for tackling racism head-on.

She went on to detail her own experience of racism growing up.

“It’s one of those subtleties that we probably haven’t seen much of on TV, I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head,” Parminder admitted.

“I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of what happens today. The other day I went somewhere for work, I’d been there four times and the person still kept misspelling my name.

“It was just like, ‘Come on man, again!’ Rachita has a similar moment when her lanyard gets mixed up, and she is given somebody else’s.

“She’s like, ‘You can see it’s not me if you just looked closely’. I can’t think of anywhere we’ve actually seen that represented on TV.”

She went on to add: “I remember on ER, I’d speak to the writers about this quite a lot, and we included some moments, like when a patient would tell my character, ‘You speak pretty good English’ and I’d look at her and say, ‘Yes, better than you probably’.

“Rachita’s thing is that she’s part of a whole generation of people born and brought up in the UK who see themselves as British.

“I’m British but you still have those stumbling blocks.

“With Rachita, she also has to work twice as hard to be recognised for the work she does.”

DI Ray begins on Monday at 9pm on ITV.

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