Summer Yasmine Bishil (born July 17, 1988) is an American actress. She first came to prominence for her role as Jasira in the 2007 film Towelhead. She was chosen to portray Azula in M. Night Shyamalan's film The Last Airbender.
Bishil was born in Pasadena, California and is the youngest of three children. Her American mother is half Mexican and her father is East Indian. In 1991, when Bishil was three years old, the family moved to Saudi Arabia and then to Bahrain, where she and her brother attended British and American Schools.
The 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil prompted her family to return to the United States. They moved to a Mormon community in San Diego where she attended a regular public high school for a week. Because of the post 9-11 tension in the US, her schoolmates did not welcome her. She stated that the return was not easy: "I hated it. I was called a whore on the first day of school, and somebody said they thought my dad funded terrorism. I just knew that nobody was ever going to want to be my friend there. I had panic attacks the first year of my life here." The family later moved to Arcadia, where her mom home schooled her.
Bishil started acting lessons at age 14. Within a year, she was signed to a contract with a manager and agency. Bishil's first role was on the short-lived Nickelodeon television show Just for Kicks, followed by appearances in several other children's shows before her break-through performance as the lead in Alan Ball's film, Towelhead in 2006, an adaptation of the novel of the same name.
Slate critic Dana Stevens said that "Her performance is the truest thing in a movie that, for all its good intentions, feels thoroughly phony and mildly embarrassing, like an extended PSA about inappropriate touching." Bob Strauss, who writes for several Los Angeles newspapers, states that Bishil, "...is one of the finest natural film actresses to emerge in years." Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times in a September 12 review of the movie Towelhead, stated that, "...newcomer Summer Bishil turns in a gutsy, quietly riveting performance as Jasira."
In 2009, she filmed Wayne Kramer's project, Crossing Over, starring Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd.
Awards and nominations
- Summer Bishil at the Internet Movie Database
- Summer Bishil at AllMovie
- Summer Bishil at the TCM Movie Database