The show attracting a lot of attention on Netflix is One Day, starring Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall.

Based on the 2009 David Nicholls novel of the same name, it tells the story of Dexter and Emma who spend the night together after graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 1988.

After they agree to be friends, the plot follows their lives and relationship on the same day – July 15 – for 20 years.

One Day received a film adaptation in 2011 with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in the lead roles.

A series version has now premiered on Netflix with Leo and Ambika as Dexter and Emma respectively.

The 14-episode series has received positive reviews, with the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reporting a 90% approval rating.

With Ambika Mod in the lead role, we delve into her background and who she is.

Early Life

Who is Ambika Mod, the star of Netflix's One Day

Born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, Ambika is the daughter of Indian immigrants.

While her mother arrived in Britain as a child, her father arrived in his 20s.

She attended Dame Alice Owen’s School before going on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English Studies from St Mary’s College, Durham University.

During her time at Durham, Ambika discovered acting and sketch comedy through the university’s Revue.

She ended up performing at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and serving as the troupe’s President in 2017.

Ambika also performs improvised comedy at The Free Association in London.

After graduating, Ambika worked as a personal assistant at Condé Nast while doing comedy at night.

Her Big Break

Who is Ambika Mod, the star of Netflix's One Day 2

Ambika Mod had several small roles in shows like Trying and The Mash Report.

But her breakout role came in the medical comedy-drama miniseries This Is Going to Hurt in 2022.

Based on Adam Kay’s insightful memoir about working for the NHS, Ambika played Shruti Acharya.

The BBC One show sparked both critical acclaim and widespread debate about life as NHS medics.

Although Ben Whishaw was the lead, much of the attention was on Ambika’s portrayal as Shruti, the exhausted, overworked and unsupported junior doctor.

Her tragic story became one of the show’s main talking points.

This Is Going to Hurt won several BAFTA awards while Ambika was honoured with a Broadcasting Press Guild Award and a Royal Television Society Programme Award for her performance.

Her breakout performance led to Ambika securing a lead role in One Day.

Initially Turning Down One Day

Who is Ambika Mod, the star of Netflix's One Day 3

Although Ambika Mod is in the headlines for One Day, she initially turned down the role.

Following the success of This Is Going to Hurt, Ambika started getting several messages a day from people “pouring their hearts out”, telling her how Shruti had tapped into their own experiences with depression or struggles as a key worker.

She acknowledged that it was “such a privilege that people want to confide in you in that way”.

However, it was “a lot to wrap your head around” and something that “no amount of media training can prepare you for”.

Due to this overwhelming experience, she said no to One Day.

Stating that she is a fan of the novel, Ambika admitted:

“I just didn’t see myself as Emma. I just thought it would be a waste of everyone’s time if I taped for this.”

After turning the latest audition request down, things changed for Ambika a few weeks later.

She recalled: “Literally one night I was lying in bed, my eyes snapped open and I was like, ‘I’ve made a terrible mistake’.”

Fortunately, her epiphany came a week before casting director Rachel Sheridan was recalling potentials.

Production for One Day lasted eight months, which the actress claimed is “by far and away the hardest thing I’ve ever done”.

The difficulty was due to the amount of material she had to deal with.

Ambika added: “It was very relentless, but a real learning curve.”

Diversity in Lead Roles

Ambika Mod admitted that while growing up, she did not see many ethnic minority people taking on lead roles in Western productions.

She said: “Even up until my early 20s, it was something that was quite rare in TV and film.”

Often, ethnic minority actors are cast as supporting characters rather than in the main roles.

Things have changed in recent years but Ambika stated:

“But I think we’ve still got a long, long way to go.”

Both her and Leo Woodall’s casting in One Day happened “regardless of ethnicity” as Ambika continued:

“I think [that decision] definitely was right for Emma.

“I think it just opens up a whole other dimension to her character and her identity that is prevalent in the book and I think it becomes even more enhanced by my casting in the series.”

She said having a non-white person as Emma is “significant”, adding:

“I hope it will open people’s minds a little bit.

“I’m aware how significant it will be to a lot of people, especially young women of colour, young South Asian women in particular.”

Ambika Mod has enjoyed a fast rise to stardom in just a few years.

One Day is her biggest role and will lead to more acting opportunities in both TV shows and films.

Her next production is a supporting role in the upcoming Disney+ series Playdate, which is about a woman whose young daughter is kidnapped at a sleepover.

Coincidentally, the thriller series also stars Jim Sturgess, who played Dexter in the film adaptation of One Day.

Watch the Trailer for One Day