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CTV 'Transplant': Rekha Sharma shows how 'fierce' feminine leadership really is in medical drama

“I really wanted to challenge the notion of what it means to be a leader,” actor Rekha Sharma says about playing Dr. Neeta Devi on the CTV hit TV show Transplant

Rekha Sharma as Neeta Devi in
Rekha Sharma as Neeta Devi in "Transplant" Fridays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app

CTV's hit medical drama Transplant returns Friday, with a significant focus of Season 3 on Rekha Sharma's character.

New chief Dr. Neeta Devi (Sharma) has been trying to implement changes to the hospital's working procedures, while facing tensions with some of her colleagues, including Torri Higginson's character, head ER nurse Claire Malone.

“Getting to do the storyline is really tough and moving, honestly," Sharma told Yahoo Canada last year. "What happens between the nurses and the doctors in trying to implement change, and how that falls upon the nurses in this system that is overrun, and a system that is sadly hierarchical in nature, where doctors get more respect and nurses get little to none."

"I hope the show highlights those issues in a way that would actually make some change in the real world. We're hearing it on the news, we're seeing it on our screens and I don't know what it's going to take to change things, but they have got to get better."

Laurence Leboeuf  and Rekha Sharma in CTV's Transplant (Yan Turcotte/CTV)
Laurence Leboeuf and Rekha Sharma in CTV's Transplant (Yan Turcotte/CTV)

'Somebody who asks for more and has a vision for a better future'

Ultimately, Sharma highlights that she finds playing Dr. Devi "inspiring," particularly in how the character wants to change and improve how patients experience patient care, and that healthcare professional to patient interaction.

“Doctors have been training for however many years they've had training for,...and so overwhelmed by a, quite frankly, collapsing healthcare system in Canada, and then to ask them to do better because I know they can," Sharma said. “That's huge that somebody would do that."

"So that was probably the most exciting thing to me about playing this character. Somebody who asks for more and has a vision for a better future."

Dr. Devi is also an example of a character who doesn't have a long history of being shown in mainstream entertainment, a woman of colour who is a position of power, and a leader.

“I really wanted to challenge the notion of what it means to be a leader,” Sharma said. “We tend to think in a very masculine way about leadership in this male-dominated patriarchal society that we live in, and the idea of feminine leadership is one that involves more compassion, more empathy, which I think is much healthier."

"And yet, I think we tend to think as a society that's just touchy feely, and that's not strong. Well, I disagree. To be able to be present with people and really listen and care with an open heart, and be strong and lead. That's fierce.”

Transplant Season 3 on CTV (Yan Turcotte)
Transplant Season 3 on CTV (Yan Turcotte)

'We all want to be recognized as full human beings'

Sharma remembers watching the pilot of the show, recalling being "immediately struck" by the "beautiful, brave action that these people took in putting this show together." Specifically referencing the decision to put the character of Bashir (Hamza Haq), a Syrian refugee, front and centre in the story.

When it comes to what Sharma looks for in project to be a part of, she said it comes down to "great writing."

"If it's there on the page then I've got more to play with,” Sharma said. “A character that has full, complex dynamic."

"Especially as a person of colour, many of us have historically been playing roles that are the best friend, the sidekick, and not a deeply interesting human being. That's all we want to be, we all want to be recognized as full human beings in the world and of course, in my work.”