few months ago, 20-something Indian American actress Noureen DeWulf started receiving prank calls on her T-Mobile Sidekick phone.
A lot of prank calls.
“I was getting 100 calls a day,” she sighs. “People were guessing if I was Britney Spears or Nicole Richie.” One morning, even Los Angeles radio station KISS FM dialed her number. “We talked for 20 minutes on their morning show! They asked me who I was and where I lived.”
And to whom does DeWulf owe her sudden smattering of attention? Heiress Paris Hilton, of course. DeWulf’s number was one of the many stored in Hilton’s famously jacked cell phone—and once it got out, the calls just wouldn’t end. Naturally, one wouldn’t expect party princess Paris Hilton to store DeWulf’s number under her real name. Instead, it was listed under the name “PooPoo.” And so the guesswork from celebrity hounds began.
“Beautiful and new and surprising” is a good way to describe Noureen DeWulf’s career, which is quickly starting to soar.
If only the great cell phone heist had occurred a few months into the future—because by then, everyone would know already know PooPoo’s identity. That’s because DeWulf plays PooPoo in this summer’s upcoming film National Lampoon’s Pledge This! opposite Ms. Hilton herself.
“It’s a female Animal House—a hazing/pledging movie,” explains DeWulf. “Paris Hilton plays the president of a sorority, and I’m PooPoo, a 17-year-old freshman foreign exchange student straight from India who pledges. It’s a funny role—everything is beautiful and new and surprising.”
“Beautiful and new and surprising” is also a good way to describe DeWulf’s career, which is quickly starting to soar. After completing her bachelor’s degree from Boston University’s School for the Arts, the raven-haired beauty earned her big break in West Bank Story, an independent musical comedy about a young Palestinian girl who falls in love with an Israeli soldier. DeWulf, who plays the star-crossed lover Fatima, says, “It’s the best thing I’ve done so far. It’s a great movie for me to come out with.”
And she’s right—West Bank is currently making the rounds on the indie film circuit, and it was an official selection at Sundance in January. It recently received the Special Jury Selection award for Live Action Short films at the Malibu Film Festival, and DeWulf couldn’t be more proud. “There is a lot of hummus and a lot of falafels in the film,” she laughs. “But I think the poignant message at the end is that love can conquer all. It sheds a new comedic light on a subject that has usually been dealt with in a dark way.”
There aren’t any series right now that have a person of ethnicity as the lead in the show. I don’t know how it will be received, but we’ll see.
The film has also helped her gain exposure, and that exposure is paying off with more mainstream roles. If her career continues at its current pace, DeWulf could soon be a household name—especially if her latest project is picked up by the WB.
“I just wrapped a half-hour comedy pilot produced by Carsey-Werner and Steve Martin. It’s called Mindy and Brenda, and it’s about two best friends living in Brooklyn who have decidedly different viewpoints on things,” she says. “I play Mindy, an Indian American girl, and Brenda is this all American, blonde, blue-eyed beauty.” DeWulf is excited about the role. “There aren’t any series right now that have a person of ethnicity as the lead in show. I don’t know how it will be received, but we’ll see.” The show is expected to be picked up mid-season by the network.
DeWulf can draw on her own experiences if she gets to play the role of Mindy full time—especially because she feels a strong connection to her heritage. “I speak Hindi and Gujarati in addition to Spanish and French,” she points out. DeWulf, whose family is originally from Pune, India, is often questioned about her last name that hardly sounds South Asian. She shrugs it off. “I’m full Indian, and I have a full connection to who I am.”
Growing up in a conservative Muslim household played an impact on my psyche. It’s allowed me to gain some perspective—a cultural perspective on my life and what I do.
Of course, growing up in a Muslim household does provide its fair share of conflicts if you want to become an actress. But DeWulf is protective of her family and how they view her career. When asked if her parents are supportive of her career choice, DeWulf responds, “I think they would rather I go to our community center and stuff like that …” she trails off. Then she adds firmly, “Growing up in a conservative Muslim household played an impact on my psyche. It’s allowed me to gain some perspective—a cultural perspective on my life and what I do. But it’s definitely not the only place from which I make decisions.”
If DeWulf’s career continues to climb at its current pace, she’ll probably be making a lot of big decisions soon. She’d especially love to work with director Quentin Tarantino. “I’m just fascinated by him. I think everything he does is pure art,” she says. If Tarantino knows what’s good for him, he’d better call Paris and get DeWulf’s (new) number.