Degrassi star has Guyanese roots

Melinda Shankar
By Jasminee Sahoye

For fans of the Canadian teen TV drama series ‘Degrassi,’ you may not know that one of the main characters, the young woman, who plays the role of Alli Bhandari, is of Guyanese heritage.
Melinda Shankar is proud of her Guyanese roots having born in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa.
She started playing the role of Alli Bhandari from the beginning of Season 8 in Degrassi: The Next Generation and continues to capture viewers attention with her acting ability.
In a YouTube video, she says her grandmother and great grandfather were involved in theatre in Guyana and she may have inherited some of those traits. Prior to her acting role in Degrassi, she says she has done modelling.
“My mom used to tell me stories of how my grandmother used to be on stage all the time and it seemed like a cool thing to do. So when I was growing up I understood the concept of TV and acting way sooner than a lot of kids but I didn’t know how to vocalize it so I told my parents that I wanted to be on TV…,” she explains in the YouTube video.
Shankar had her starring debut in 2008 in the 8th season of Degrassi as Alli Bhandari, a confident young high school woman, a role she continues to play. She also co-starred in a Disney Channel Original Movie, ‘Harriet the Spy’ as Janie Gibbs along with Aislinn Paul, who plays Clare Edwards on Degrassi and Disney Channel’s Jennifer Stone.
She also played the lead role in a 2011 indie-film, ‘Festival of Lights’ as Reshma and was Indira “Indie” Mehta on YTV series, ‘How to be Indie.’
In 2010, Shankar along with the writer and executive producer of ‘Festival of Lights’ travelled to Guyana to capture some scenes for the film. She played the role a young woman, who travels to Guyana to locate her father who was left behind when she and her mother migrated to the United States when she was three years old.
Shankar is also talented in ballet and tap dancing and has a black belt in karate. Her father owns a karate school in Ottawa.