Meet Naks Suresh: Criminology Student and Aspiring Actress

13 Jul 2018

Naks Suresh found her voice in more ways than one when she chose to study a Bachelor of Criminology & Criminal Justice (Hons) at UNSW

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For Naks Suresh, transferring to UNSW was just what she needed to step out from behind the curtain and take centre stage.

It was through school plays that Naks first got a taste for the performing arts. Coming from a non-English speaking background, these small productions were a chance for her to discover her own voice. However, as she moved into high school, these opportunities became increasingly limited.

“I was never able to join the drama class, because the drama class was just me and you can’t have a class by yourself,” she said.

It wouldn’t be until her second year of university – transferring into a Bachelor of Criminology & Criminal Justice (Hons) at UNSW – that she would begin to rediscover her passion for drama, signing up to the NSW University Theatrical Society (NUTS).

For most actors, auditions are nerve-racking – but ‘nervous’ wasn’t a part of Nak’s vocabulary.

“The director said I was the most confident person they have ever seen at a first audition – I just dropped my bags, marched in and sat in the middle of the stage, and said, I’m ready.”

Needless to say, she got the part.

Naks relished the chance to perform again, and the opportunity to channel her own personal experiences on stage for the role of Ishtar the NUTS production of War Crimes.

“[Ishtar] is a girl from Iraq, bullied in high school in a rural town, vilified for wearing a hijab. She uses her culture as a source of strength. I was bullied through primary school myself and so I was able to channel my personal experience.”

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She loved her first production with NUTS so much that she joined the executive team. The extra responsibility certainly hasn’t hampered her, earning high praise for her portrayal of the eponymous Coriolanus.

“Nash Suresh is a revelation in the title role. From her first step onstage, Coriolanus is an unknown quantity. She pulses with rage and fearsome physicality, somehow simultaneously stone-faced and expressive.” - Isobel Knight, Tharunka

While it might seem unusual to be pursuing theatre alongside a degree in criminology, the diverse experiences the disciplines offer is what challenges Naks to succeed.

“I’m the sort of person who likes to be put into situations in order to understand them and to learn from those experiences.” [With criminology and acting] you have to have an open mind, think critically, and outside the box.”

Originally, she didn’t think it was possible to pursue a career in criminal justice and follow in the footsteps of her TV heroes until transferring to UNSW.

“I was probably around 15 when I saw my first episode of Bones and Criminal Minds and I thought it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said.

“I had never heard of a degree or of job opportunities like this before. It gave me a whole new perspective on criminology.”

It’s the unique opportunities and the student experience that Naks believes make UNSW a great place to study.

“Coming to UNSW was such a relief. UNSW completely changed me into a completely different person – I’m so happy to be going to university here.”

Right now, Naks is enjoying the freedom her degree offers. She has no shortage of future plans but is keeping her options open when it comes to the long term. Perhaps she will pursue a Master’s degree in forensic mental health or go and work for the Department of Immigration.

“[But] first, I’m thinking about going on exchange to a completely new country and getting that culture shock… I’m ready!”

Nak’s picks for best spots on campus at UNSW Sydney

• Best beer: “Whitehouse hands down for the best beer and ciders.”

• Best hangout: “Library Lawn is a really good place to chill, pop in some headphones and relax between class.”

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