“Laughter and comedy on television are vehicles to help better understand different religions, races, sexual orientations, and cultures.” — Sunny Tripathy
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Sunny Tripathy is a first-generation writer/director with Indian-American roots. Today, Tripathy has sold several screenplays and has his own original projects with: Tristar Pictures, Sony Television, Amazon, 20th Century Fox, Electric Ave, Black Bar Mitzvah, Montecito Picture Company, Bazelevs, Court-Five, Titmouse Animation, NewForm Digital, Anonymous Content, Hartbeat Productions, Sony Pictures Animation, Disney and more.
Amy Powell: Is there one piece of advice that you wish your 9 year old self would give you today that would make an impact on your career?
Sunny Tripathy: Don’t forget to have fun. Take chances and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid of what people will say or what could go wrong. Work hard, be mindful, be kind.. but have fun. The moment you stop having fun, you lose.
Amy: Was there a time you messed up and felt like you’d failed? how did you bounce back?
Sunny: ALL the time. But sometimes you look back and realize that what you thought were failures were actually blessings in disguise. Eventually (even if it takes a while!), they lead you to better things. To different things. And when you change your attitude on failure, you’re no longer afraid of it. Also, it’s important to understand the difference between feeling like you failed, and an actual failure. If you don’t feel like you failed, maybe you didn’t!
Amy: How did you learn to embrace risk-taking?
Sunny: Risk can be scary, but it’s also sort of exciting. It’s like setting out on a voyage into the open sea. Sure you might run into a storm, but what if you land in Hawaii? If you stay optimistic, you’ll see every day as an adventure and you’ll enjoy the journey — even when there’s a risk. Replace the word risk with adventure, and everything you do will be fun.
Amy: What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how has it proven invaluable?
Sunny: It’s an age-old saying, but it rings true. Always invest in people, not things. The Dalai Lama says “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.” A good leader recognizes people for the human beings they are, and not by the work or products they create. More importantly, always be kind. I will always remember the mentors who were gentle and compassionate, than those who were… jerks. Skill can be taught, talent can be improved, but character…cannot.
Amy: What is the most fun part of your job?
Sunny: I feel lucky that, every day, I get to tell stories. The best part of my job is understanding the human experience from as many diverse perspectives as possible. There are literally strangers in various, remote parts of the world (from the jungles of Chiang Mai to the barren deserts of Rajasthan) that have had a profound impact on the way I live my life. Honestly, they probably don’t even know how much my time with them meant to me. But the more I get to explore what drives someone, and how their circumstances shape their decisions, the more I realize that — as human beings — we are far more alike than different. I try to shed light on these experiences through my work, and it’s infinitely more rewarding (and fun!) than anything else I know.
About Sunny Tripathy:
Sunny Tripathy is a Canadian Indian-American screenwriter who paid his way through UCLA with day jobs that included working at Jamba Juice, teaching at a Yeshiva Gedolah, and modeling for Indian grocery stores — which is not a joke.
After graduating, he placed on Last Teen Comic Standing and went on his first general meeting at 20th Century Fox, hoping to pocket free Fiji waters, but instead walked out with a script deal — further confusing his disapproving family.
In 2020, Tripathy sold a show with Will Arnett and Sony Television to Amazon after a highly competitive bidding war. Some of his other original projects are now in development with: Jay Ellis, The Kid Mero, Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Productions, and Titmouse Animation.
In features, Tripathy’s original spec scripts are set-up with: The Montecito Picture Company, Court-Five, Timur Bekmambetov, and Tristar Pictures. In 2021, he closed a deal with Sony Pictures Animation, and then sold a live-action feature film to Disney.
Tripathy is repped by UTA, Anonymous Content, and LGNA Inc., and will be producing his first major studio film alongside Ivan Reitman and Amie Karp in 2022. Naturally, his parents have asked him to get…married.