Actor Avan Jogia doesn’t like being labeled. In fact, he’s so opposed to conforming to stereotypical labels enforced by society that he’s published an entire book on the topic.
"As soon as you name something, it loses an essence of itself," the 27-year-old actor says. "As soon as you say, ‘I’m this type of thing,’ it limits the capacity for you to be you. I don’t want to limit myself."
The actor, known for his role in "Victorious," has published "Mixed Feelings," a mixture of poems and interviews with people of mixed race sharing their stories of self-identity.
"I grew up mixed race and I was curious about the subject but didn’t know how to go about tackling it in a creative way," says Jogia, whose father is East Indian and mother is of English/Irish descent. His creative outlet came in the form of written poetry. "I was curious about what the mixed experience is and how it affects everything else."
"What I found, mostly through interviewing other people, is that there might be a different perspective on the whole subject of race if you’re mixed," he adds.
Jogia says his poetry project started as an exploration of his own identity and grew into a platform to help others feel a sense of community. Through "Mixed Feelings," Jogia explores what he describes as the "complicated emotions" surrounding race, identity, religion and family.
"What I found was everyone’s experience was almost exactly the same, regardless of what their racial background was — the isolation and the duality were the same," he says. "Because of that isolation, I thought it would be interesting if we had our own mixed community."
Jogia, who will appear in "Zombieland: Double Tap" next month, says he chose to publish his book amid a political climate he describes as "divisive" to show similarities between "different groups."
"What are any of these labels, names and monikers we give ourselves? If they’re helpful to you, keep them. If they’re not, get rid of them."
Jogia will host a book event at The Strand Wednesday to promote "Mixed Feelings" and discuss what it means to be of a mixed racial background. Admission is free with a copy of his new book, which he says he’ll gladly sign.
"I didn’t know how to do a poetry event and I think that’s worked in my advantage in a way — stay stupid," he says. "It’s going to be a mix of poetry and music."
IF YOU GO: Avan Jogia’s "Mixed Feelings" book tour stops by The. Strand on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at strandbooks.com/events.