Utkarsh Ambudkar – Highly Likable, Super Talented, Multi-Genre Star


Jack Pasquale

Utkarsh Ambudkar or UTK can be seen weekly on the CBS hit TV show Ghosts. But you also would have seen his versatile talent showcased in the viral series Never Have I Ever, the inspirational Brittany Runs a Marathon, blockbuster movies Free Guy and Pitch Perfect or in one of his many other projects including Disney’s Godmothered, Tick, Tick… Boom!, The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, and more. Aside from his breakout entertainment industry and acting career, UTK is a very talented musician. He has been a part of Lin Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop improv group since its inception. I was lucky enough to see his energetic freestyle rapping in person several times in the Broadway hit Freestyle Love Supreme, which was made into a documentary now streaming on Hulu


UTK was kind enough to take some time out of his hectic schedule to catch up with The Echo. We hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did! 


I love Ghosts. How did you land such an awesome role?

I got really lucky! Rose McIver, who plays Samantha, is good friends with my wife. She reached out to me and told me to give it a look. And that’s how it came about and I’m very grateful because it turned out to be something really special. 


How do you make your character Jay your own?

Here’s a secret – I’m not a very good actor. I just go and play myself. I just show up and put on the pants they tell me to put on and say the words they tell me to say. What makes Jay fun is he is really, really supportive of Samantha. What other partner or husband is going to be like you see ghosts? Oh great! That’s cool! Let’s do it! So, I think that’s what I love about him. I just try to make Jay as positive and on board as possible.  


Will we get to see you freestyle in Ghosts?

I wish! I’m not sure they’ll make Jay a rapper yet. He does play Dungeons and Dragons, which I love. But I don’t think we’re going to see him rap anytime soon. 


Has anything unusual happened while filming on the set or anyone seen a ghost?

No ghosts on set…yet. If it did happen I did not see it.


Ghosts is such a fun show. Is there a bigger meaning you want people to get from watching? 

That’s a really good question. I think that family is important. I think all of our families have their own individual challenges. People from different points of view, from different walks of life – but if you put family first and you take care of each other’s core needs you can make any family work. And I think that is what is special about Ghosts. I think that is why a lot of people watch it. I think they really connect to the struggles and the triumphs of the ghosts.  


You’ve now done hit movies, TV shows, animated movies and Broadway. What do you want to conquer next?

I don’t know if conquer is the right word but I would like to try directing. I have a movie coming out this summer on Disney+ that I was able to write and create the music for. So, being able to create my own content and tell my own stories for myself and my community is my next step. I would love to just bring more music and South Asian voices to the forefront. 


What role is your favorite so far and why?  

I’m not sure. I really like this new one on Never Have I Ever, Manish Kulkarni, the cool teacher. He was fun. But I think nothing beats rapping with my friends on Broadway in Freestyle Love Supreme. I think that is my favorite thing I’ve done because it is with my close, close good friends – and it is really hard to duplicate something that feels that good when you do it with people you love. 


I saw you a bunch of times in Freestyle Love Supreme. Do you have plans to come back to Broadway? 

I hope so! If they’ll let us back in the building I will be there on day one. We all love doing it and love seeing each other. It is amazing to have done something for so many years and to watch each other grow and get better. If they’ll have us back on Broadway, I’m sure we’ll all show up happily. 


You’ve had an amazing journey. What was the biggest surprise and what was the hardest part? 

It is kind of the same answer to the same question – its like how long it has taken to get good at it; to become responsible; to show up for myself; to be ok with where I’m at and to not fight the process. The most surprising thing is all the people I’ve had a chance to meet and work with – the amazing performers – I’ve met everyone from all walks of life thanks to this weird talent of freestyle rap. The hardest part has been getting out of my own way.  


What advice would you give to aspiring high school actors? 

Take care of each other. Support each other. The community that you have in high school is way more important than you’ll ever know. Finish what you start. Write your own songs, scripts, skits, jokes, and hit open mics around town or make them as a community – but have a spot where you can go put up a microphone and practice what you do. The main thing is to finish what you start and show up on time. 


What is the one question you wish people would ask you but they never do? 

I wish people would ask me, “Which superhero would you want to play on TV?” And the answer is Nightcrawler from the X-Men.