ost reality TV wannabes attempt to get on such shows to become stars. Not Miki and Radha Agrawal, twin sisters and cast members of ABC’s short-lived reality drama One Ocean View. Set on Fire Island outside of New York City, the show attempted to chronicle the lives of young, professional New Yorkers—but it was yanked off the air after only two episodes.

The 27-year-old Agrawal sisters aren’t fazed, though. They just wanted to get on the show to promote their business, Slice, a pizzeria on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that features organic and lactose-free pizza. A far-fetched marketing tactic? Not for this ambitious duo that has been making waves since they were students at Cornell University. The half-Indian, half-Japanese sisters from Montreal, Canada, were star students at Ithaca’s Ivy League school, where they excelled in athletics and academics. (They played varsity soccer and were both included in the top 30 most influential students at Cornell list.) It was only after stints in investment banking and film production that these go-getters entered the restaurant business.

chatted with Miki and Radha Agrawal about their success.

The cast of One Ocean View
The cast of One Ocean View.

Why did you guys decide to audition for One Ocean View, and how do you feel about its early cancellation?
Miki: The show happened completely randomly. They had been casting for two months and couldn’t find the right personalities. Our friend told us about the show and suggested that we apply, so we did. At the audition, we hammed it up, just opened up.

It was a great way to get our restaurant publicity. What better way to have free advertisement? But our main concern was, “How do we do it and not make ourselves look stupid?” So we just didn’t cause any drama, we didn’t hook up with anybody, we were basically mediators.

Of course, ABC was hoping for a Laguna Beach type thing—a scandal—but we’re all young professionals. I just envisioned the show to be about 11 young professionals and that it would focus on the work-hard-play-harder mentality of being a New Yorker. So I was very disappointed by the casting—I thought it was weak. They could have picked people who were more mature with more mature careers.

Do you regret the experience?
Miki: No, I don’t regret anything I do. It was fun and entertaining to be thrust in this reality TV world, for a few weekends, not disrupting your day-to-day lives. I thought it was a very interesting juxtaposition.

Radha: The show was a great gimmick for Slice. They shot five full scenes here at the restaurant. In the end, it was an amazingly fun experience, especially because I’m a ham.

Nirali’s Dish

Slice is located at 1413 Second Ave. on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (212 249 4353). Be sure to try the “Novice” slice–a crispy herb crust topped with pesto, organic mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and basil. If you eat meat, it’s truly “perfect” if you request it with chicken.

You both have a background in film and entertainment—is that what you’re trying to get back into?
Miki: We’ve both worked in films for the last four years. We’ve done production work, coordinated commercials and music videos. We’ve always been behind the scenes. So it was interesting to get in front of the camera. I want to do a lot of spokesperson-y stuff. Do I want to act? Why not?

Are you two competitive with each other?
Miki: Being twins, we compete a lot. But in a very positive way.

Radha: Yeah, we were fighting for who got out of the womb first. I did, by five minutes, obviously.

You have a pretty storied academic background. What’s the deal?
Radha: Our older sister went to Harvard, and our parents said we couldn’t leave Canada unless we went to an Ivy League school. So we started looking at academic and athletic schools, and Cornell offered both. We met a lot of achievers at Cornell, and we surrounded ourselves with ambitious people. But we majored in communications in school.

We both went into finance after college—to prove to our Indian father that communications (“soft skills” as he called it) could get us somewhere. So we just got ourselves six-figure jobs out of college. We interview well—we’re primo bullsh***ers. Nah, not bullsh**, but we just get to know people and read them really well. Based on how you are, we’ll adapt.

We did that for three years and then quit and went into the film business. I was an agent for film directors, working on commercials and music videos. Miki was working for a production company.

Radha and Miki
Radha and Miki.

So what did your parents think when you quit your day jobs to start a food business?
Miki: Initially, our parents were reluctant—it’s risky, and they thought, what are you doing? Finally I told them we want to have a chain. It’s smart business, marrying comfort food and health food.

Slice is still growing—how are you trying to improve your business?
Radha: Loyalty customers are a huge thing for us, so we’re focused on improving the experience for them. We’re also changing our façade to make it more visible, and we want to increase our ability to churn out pizzas faster.

What’s next for you guys?
Miki: We plan on growing the business, developing a frozen pizza line. But do we want to be pizza girls for the rest of our lives? No, we have loftier goals. We want to make movies exposing the food industry. We’re just businesspeople, we want to make films. Our background is in film, and we eventually want to head our own film company.

Radha: We are going to change the world by giving people a healthier alternative to fast food. We just signed on with New York’s WITS (Wellness in the Schools) program, where we will be serving our pies to public schools every Thursday and Friday, starting with pre-schoolers and next year expanding from K through 8th grade. The dream is becoming a reality!n

Ismat Sarah Mangla loves pizza, but she’s still warming up to the idea of reality television.
Published on October 2, 2006.
Photography: Courtesy of Miki and Radha Agrawal.
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  1. October 24, 2007, 1:13 am tom