Parminder Nagra is an English actress best known for her roles as Jesminder (Jess) Bhamra in the film Bend It Like Beckham, and as medical student Neela Rasgotra in the television series ER.
She also starred as Dr. Lucy Banerjee in the short-lived science fiction television series Alcatraz, in 2012; and has a starring role as CIA agent Meera Malik, who became a CIA officer sometime in early 1998 and worked for much of her career as a non-official cover, in the crime drama television series The Blacklist.
Bend It Like Beckham was Nagra's feature-film debut and breakthrough role as a teenage English girl whose unexpected talents on the soccer field – inspired by her idol, international soccer star David Beckham – do not endear her with her traditional Indian family.
For her roles in Bend It Like Beckham and ER, Nagra was honoured at the 2004 Young Hollywood Awards with the Breakthrough Actress Award. She also was the first woman to win the FIFA Presidential Award.
Nagra's breakout performance landed her the role of Arieda, the friend of Anne Hathaway's character in the feature film Ella Enchanted. She starred opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor in the U.K.'s film version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night as Viola and opposite Ray Winstone in the drama-thriller Compulsion.
Additionally, Nagra starred in the two-part drama Second Generation for which she earned an Ethnic Multicultural Media Academy (EMMA) Award.
Other TV credits include the British TV series Always and Everyone, The Swap, Holby City, King Girl, Casualty, Judge John Deed, Goodness Gracias Me, Turning World and the Hungarian TV movie starring Academy Award winner Colin Firth, Donavan Quick.
Nagra was also seen as Miss Lovely in Horrid Henry: The Movie, the first British kid's film to be shot in 3D. In 2012, Nagra could be seen in the British thriller Twenty8k as Deeva Jani.
Nagra was born and raised in Leicester, England but her family is originally from the state of Punjab in India. She admits that she had no formal acting training but that it was something she fell in to.
Nagra can speak fluent Punjabi, a bit of Hindi and various swear words in different languages, she confesses. Among her acting role models are Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster and Edward Norton.
She currently lives in Vancouver.