Amrita Sеn ‘s artistic odyssеy is a story of еvolution, rеsiliеncе, and a rеlеntlеss pursuit of crеativе passions. From hеr еarly carееr in financе on Wall Strееt to hеr currеnt rolеs as an artist, musician, and storytеllеr, Amrita has dеfiеd convеntion and еmbracеd divеrsе forms of еxprеssion. In this insightful intеrviеw, wе dеlvе into thе pivotal momеnts that shapеd hеr path, thе intеrplay of hеr crеativе talеnts, and thе inspiration bеhind hеr audiobook sеriеs “Hiddеn Womеn,” which uncovеrs thе untold storiеs of rеmarkablе womеn throughout history.
But First, Who is Amrita Sen?
Amrita Sen is an artist, musician, and storyteller. Her parents immigrated from Calcutta, India, when she was 4 years old. With a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the Wharton School of Business, Amrita got her start on Wall Street before transitioning into the arts. Throughout her career, Amrita has sung with the famous Indian composer A.R. Rahman at the 2009 Oscars and with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. She also had a major art exhibit at Art Basel and has distributed a bag line in department stores nationwide, including Nordstrom’s, Dillards, and Barnes and Noble. Now, Amrita is using her creative storytelling skills to narrate and produce the captivating audiobook series “Hidden Women.”
Amrita Sen’s Books
- Your journey from finance on Wall Street to the arts is quite remarkable. Can you tell us about the pivotal moment or experience that led to this significant career transition?
I never really wanted to work on Wall Street. I needed to make money because I came from a poor immigrant family who migrated from Kolkata to Jersey City NJ. My parents needed money, they needed me to make money and get out of the ghetto. This was the least I could do for them for all the sacrifices they made. When I got to Wall Street, I realized that I really sucked at it. I was terrible at spreadsheets and balance sheets. My boss hated me and ridiculed me. She told me I would never make it in business. I believed her. Until I didn’t. I got a job working for the CEO of Columbia/HCA Healthcare and spent two years there as a finance person. I built my finance skills and more broadly my business skills. I went to Harvard Business. School. After Harvard I moved to LA to work in entertainment – not as an artist but as an agent/ manager to other artists. This was at least peripherally related to my interests. It was 2009 and I had a successful career working with the likes of 50 Cent, Kanye West, Beyonce, and Christina Aguilera. But I was still unhappy that I could never show the world my true passion for art and music.
Maybe god answered my prayers because one day, I got a call to stand in line with 1,000 other girls to audition for the Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire, performing with AR Rahman. I stood in line, sang, and got picked. When I got to the rehearsal for the Oscars, I was told that although I was picked, I would have to step down because the daughter of the agent to AR Rahman wanted to sing in my place, and since she was the daughter of the agent, I had to accept my fate. Of course, I cried and I cried until I literally had no tears left. Then, to add insult to injury, they said that I had to train this person to sing in Hindi and to be able to execute Bollywood vocals. So I went through 2 grueling days of training this person on the song that I was picked to sing, after what felt to be a lifetime of waiting to sing one song.
As she was getting ready to sing the song, I sat in a room listening to a monitor. Then AR’s manager came into the room and said “he wants YOU.”
I realized at that point that my years of musical training would not only pay off but that I had an obligation to lead a creative life from now on.
- As an artist, musician, and storyteller, you have a unique blend of creative talents. How do these different forms of expression intersect in your work, and how do they influence one another?
I am very good at drawing and I am very good with melody. They are very different skills so I am not sure how they intersect. But the reality is that I am equally an artist in both so I don’t want to hide it. I want to bring both of those worlds together and bring people from those worlds together to make art. I want musicians to understand that visual artists are superstars. I want visual artists to understand that their art will be even more vibrant if they have music behind it.
- Immigrating from Calcutta, India, at a young age must have been a transformative experience. How has your multicultural background shaped your perspective and your creative work?
I learned classical Bengali music, Hindustani music, and Italian opera. I can do things with my voice that come in very handy during a recording. It’s my thing. You have to hear it.
- “Hidden Women” is a departure from your earlier career in finance and your experiences as a musician and artist. What inspired you to transition into writing and storytelling, and how has this new creative path enriched your life and work?
The story just came to me. I am an extremely avid follower of the origins of Myth and how history shapes Myth. You can say I am obsessed. Studying this one topic helps me understand the human condition, it gives me perspective on how meaningful every human soul is. Each of us is connected to energy pods waiting to spark through stories and rituals – things that bring us together. The human brain is a storytelling machine. It’s what allows us to build bridges, fly planes, create AI, and erect monuments. We as a species hunger to tell stories. What always bothers me is that so many of our mythologies were told from a dude’s perspective. There had to have been a female somewhere in the mix. That’s all.
- “Hidden Women” is a collection of stories that spotlight the often-overlooked women behind famous men. What motivated you to embark on this project, and how did you select the women and narratives featured in the collection?
I just couldn’t help myself. It just came to me.
- Can you describe the research process behind “Hidden Women”? What resources or methods did you use to uncover these untold stories?
It took 5 years. Books, articles, and videos, wrote hundreds of songs, and illustrated thousands of pictures, until I culled it down to 2 hours of material.
- Throughout “Hidden Women,” you explore the strength, resilience, and unique experiences of these remarkable women. Is there a particular story or character from the collection that you found especially inspiring or moving?
I love Radha towards the end of her journey. She stopped being such a pushover. She finally decides “I’m going to run a school” and she bossed it up.
- The book aims to empower and inspire by giving voice to hidden women throughout history. What impact do you hope this collection will have on listeners, and why is it important to share these untold stories?
I think this work should really inspire filmmakers actually. The work is actually an audio movie. It proves that you don’t have a crazy budget to make a movie and that a movie can be in any form.
- Your creative journey has taken many unexpected turns, from art exhibitions to music performances and now storytelling. What advice do you have for aspiring artists and creatives who may be hesitant about exploring diverse creative paths?
Get to work and keep working your tail off. Don’t put leisure on a pedestal. And be prepared for a lot of rejection. Rejection is the key. It makes you into a boss. Whenever someone tells you that your art sucks, smile and internalize. Don’t fight it. Accept the negativity as a gift that someone is giving you. They are doing you a favor by putting you down. Come back with a vengeance. Come back knowing you can be better than anyone else if you work till you drop. That’s my way. What gives me the greatest joy is the struggle. The struggle is the point of why one does art.
- Looking ahead, can you provide a glimpse into your future projects or initiatives? Are there any upcoming works or endeavors you’d like to share with your audience?
I receive great joy from working with good people. I don’t really care if the project is visual or musical or story. I am good at all three. I can be excellent if I collaborate with excellent people. Just work with good people.