But then he stumbled onto the drama department at the university. After taking a few classes, he got hooked on theater. To please his parents he continued with his pre-med requirements, but also took on a second major in performing arts. Six months before he was due to take his medical college admission tests, he got the opportunity to perform in the play Bent by Martin Sherman. And that changed everything. “I was so engrossed in the play and the character, I was transported,”hereports.“Forthe first time I thought maybe I can actually do this.
Maybe I’m good at this.”
But, because of the experience he had gained the next summer doing an internship at director Spike Lee’s movie company, he started as a film production assistant in New York. He soon realized, however, that he what he really wanted was to be in front of the camera. So he applied to the top five graduate acting programmes in the country and started taking acting classes. Accepted by four out of the five, he landed at his top choice, New York University, with a full scholarship. “Those were the three greatest years of my life,” he says.
Coming out of grad school in 2004 De Silva now faced the prospect of getting work as an actor -- daunting enough for anyoneinthebusiness,evenmoresofor an actor of South Asian origin. De Silva was lucky. He was able to get an agent quite easily. “I was labelled the “hot EA guy” – ethnically ambiguous – so I was able to get a lot of TV roles pretty fast. I got guest star and best friend roles, but I realized that it is a much harder game to actually get a lead.”
He says he learned a valuable lesson in those early years: “If you are always waiting around for your next job, your value slowly start to diminish because, the fact is, your life as an actor is series of rejections. You have to make your life as important as your work.”