Nisha Ganatra

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Nisha Ganatra
Born (1974-06-25) June 25, 1974 (age 48)
Alma materNew York University
  • Actress
  • filmmaker
Years active1996–present

Nisha Ganatra (born June 25, 1974)[1] is a Canadian-American film director, screenwriter, producer, and actress of Indian descent. She wrote, directed, and produced the independent comedy drama Chutney Popcorn (1999) and later directed the independent film Cosmopolitan (2003) and the romantic-comedy Cake (2005). Ganatra has directed for numerous television shows, including The Real World, Transparent , You Me Her, Better Things, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. She also directed the comedy-dramas Late Night (2019) and The High Note (2020). Ganatra served as a consulting producer on the first season of Transparent,[2] for which she was nominated for the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Ganatra explored her interest in film through acting and then decided to make the switch to pursue film-making as she wanted to effect cultural change.[1]

Ganatra began her film-making journey by studying at The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Though she wasn't studying film, she explored her interest by sneaking into screenwriting classes which eventually led her to creating short films.[1]

She moved to New York City to pursue a film degree at New York University Film School (NYU). During her time there, she created a short film Junky Punky Girlz (1997) which won NYU's Tisch Fellowship[1] and most outstanding short film from PBS.[1] Ganatra graduated from the New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts.[4]


While in film school, Ganatra directed several episodes of MTV's long-running television series The Real World in 2001.[5] Prior to this she had written and directed two shorts and her critically acclaimed independent film Chutney Popcorn (1999).[5]

Ganatra is part of a mentorship program with NBC which seeks to provide talented female directors with the same opportunities as their male counterparts. This program selects female directors to be given the opportunity to shadow up to three episodes of an NBC series. The participants will then be able to direct at least one episode of the series in which she has been shadowing.[6]

When Ganatra was on the hunt for a cinematographer, she began to notice that the men's reels were far superior compared to the women's reels.[7] As a female director herself, she was accustomed to being overlooked in the hiring process in favor of men. She realized that the men had better reels not because they were more talented, but instead, because they had been given bigger budgets, better equipment, larger crews, and elaborate productions.[7] This motivated Ganatra to hire a female cinematographer and strive to hire female crews. In 2020, it was reported that ABC had put into development a single-camera matchmaking comedy written, directed, and produced by Ganatra.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Ganatra is out and identifies as a lesbian.[9][10]



Year Title Director Writer Producer Role Notes Ref(s)
1996 Junky Punky Girlz Yes Yes No Short film
1997 Drown Soda Yes Yes Yes Short film
1999 Chutney Popcorn Yes Yes Yes Reena
2000 The Acting Class No No No Exotic Dancer
2003 Cosmopolitan Yes No No TV movie
2003 Fast Food High Yes No No
2005 Cake Yes No No
2005 Bam Bam and Celeste No No No Linda
2007 Don't Go No No No Shanti TV movie
2008 The Cheetah Girls: One World No Yes No TV movie
2011 Small, Beautifully Moving Parts No No No Mother
2013 The Hunters Yes No Yes TV movie
2013 Pete's Christmas Yes No Yes TV movie
2014 Code Academy Yes Yes Yes Short film
2016 Center Stage: On Pointe No Yes No TV movie
2019 Late Night Yes No No
2020 The High Note Yes No No

TV series[edit]



  • Futurestates (2011) (TV series, 1 episode)


  • Margaret Cho: Beautiful (2009), field producer
  • Cho Dependent (2011), field producer
  • Transparent (2014) (TV series, 10 episodes), consulting producer
  • You Me Her (2016) (TV series, 10 episodes), co-executive producer
  • Better Things (2016) (TV series, 9 episodes), co-executive producer

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Joanne Latimer, Dustin Dinoff, Marise Strauss, & Laura Bracken (2004). "Playback's 10 to Watch: Canada's Hottest Up-and-Coming Directors, Actors and Writers". Playback: Canada's Broadcast and Production Journal. 18 (21): 1.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Brodesser-Akner, Taffy (29 August 2014). "Can Jill Soloway Do Justice to the Trans Movement?". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Nisha Ganatra". Television Academy. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  4. ^ King, Loren. (9 June 2000). ""Ganatra Whips Up Light Chutney Popcorn"". Boston Globe.
  5. ^ a b Steinhart, David (8 March 2003). "Learning at the feet of some of the best". National Post. 4: 1.
  6. ^ Rathore, Reena (25 January 2018). "NBC Picks Indian American Nisha Ganatra to Mentor Next Generation of Female Directors". India West. Archived from the original on 24 December 2021. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b Winkelman, Natalia (15 June 2018). "The War on Hollywood Sexism: Ava DuVernay, Miranda July, Karyn Kusama, and More Directors Speak Out". The Daily Beast.
  8. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2020-08-24). "Nisha Ganatra Matchmaking Comedy In The Works At ABC". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
  9. ^ Tucker, Karen Iris (June 6, 2000). "Popcorn Confidential". The Advocate. Archived from the original on August 24, 2019. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  10. ^ Corson, Suzanne (June 27, 2007). "Nisha Ganatra's On-screen Comeback". AfterEllen. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015.

External links[edit]