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Parminder Nagra    

English Film & Television Actress Best Known for "Bend It Like Beckham"

Parminder Kaur Nagra is an English film and television actress. She is known for playing Jess Bhamra in the film Bend It Like Beckham and Dr. Neela Rasgotra in the NBC medical drama series "ER" from 2003 to 2009. She has had several other major television roles, including a starring role as Meera Malik in the NBC crime drama series "The Blacklist" for season one and a recurring role on the ABC/Marvel Television series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." as Ellen Nadeer for season four.

Nagra was born in Leicester, England, to Sukha and Nashuter Nagra, Sikh factory workers who emigrated from the Punjab region of India in the 1960s. At her comprehensive school, Soar Valley College, she played the viola in the youth orchestra and also appeared in her first theatrical productions. Nagra left Leicester for London and decided not to go to university. Instead she pursued a theatrical career and her childhood ambition of becoming an actress. Her first London theatrical job came in 1994, when she was cast as the Princess in the pantomime "Sleeping Beauty" at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Despite lacking formal theatrical training, Nagra signed with Joan Brown, a veteran London-based agent, after which she was cast in minor television roles.

Gurinder Chadha's 2002 comedy-drama Bend It Like Beckham was Nagra's breakthrough film. She received critical and professional acclaim for her performance. She was nominated, and won, several awards, including the FIFA Presidential Award (2002), making her the first woman to have done so. She was nominated in 2006 for an Asian Excellence Award, in the category of Outstanding Female Television Performance, for her work in ER, and won the award the following year. Nagra was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctors of Letters by the University of Leicester on 11 July 2007. Nagra was also one of the bearers of the Olympic torch as it passed through London on its way to the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

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