Alaina Brinley Rajgopal is one woman, who has achieved every dream she had. As a child whichever science fiction movie inspired her, she grew up and went on to study that field.
Alaina’s life story revolves around movies. She is an actress, board-certified emergency medicine physician, scientist, pilot, and climber.
She also hosts a podcast called “The Emergency Docs” which focuses on educating the general public and medical professionals on issues in medicine.
She began acting after she realized that she was inspired to become an ER doctor after seeing ER, then she worked at NASA after seeing Apollo 13. But this was not enough, when she watched Jurassic Park, she decided to work in Paleontology.
She made movies her real-life career, and now, she wants to inspire other young girls to pursue the sciences through the movies!
Alaina Brinley Rajagopal is currently MD PhD CTrop Med Emergency Medicine Physician, Visiting Associate Faculty, California Institute of Technology Host, The Emergency Docs Podcast CMO.
Here’s our conversation with Alaina, check out the video above to view the complete interview
Mohid Moosani: Welcome guys! Today we have Alaina Brinley with us, she has so much talent and has her hands in so many professions at the same time that I wouldn’t be doing justice if I tried to explain. So, Alaina would you please tell our audience about all your work? Starting from your childhood.
Alaina Brinley: Okay so, I got into acting actually a little bit later but I was really inspired by film and television. As a kid and so I remember vividly when I first saw Apollo 13, I became obsessed with space flight.
I wanted to learn everything that I could about space flight and I probably forced my family to go see that movie like two or three times in the theatre and so after that went to space camp and ended up interning at NASA several times in college.
And so, I knew space flight was something I wanted to do after I saw that movie and was really interested in it. And after seeing Top Gun I wanted to be a pilot and eventually, I became a pilot.
After I saw Jurassic Park I first started thinking about paleontology and when I was in college I interned in paleontology for several months and so I think throughout my life I’ve been really inspired by film and television because as a kid growing up in South bend Indiana.
Mohid Moosani: So, how did you get into acting then?
Alaina Brinley: In grad school, I’d had a pretty tough committee meeting where my advisors were upset with some of the research. So, I was visibly upset at the end of this meeting and one of my advisors was like you know… you just need to think about graduate school like a beauty pageant and learn to impress the judges and you should be a better actress… so nobody knows when you’re upset and I was kind of like well, I’m not going to do any beauty pageants but I will learn to be a better actress.
So, I kind of started acting because I was trying to improve sort of how I spoke in scientific forums but after I signed up for a casting sort of website, I got an audition and I ended up getting cast after that Audition and I really fell in love with acting.
I thought it was so fun, I kept booking roles after that and this was in Houston and I’ve kind of just continued to act since then.
Mohid Moosani: How’s your medical practice going? Do you get the time to do your research?
Alaina Brinley: I actually am an emergency medicine physician. So, I work as a doctor and then I still do research so I’m working on developing medical devices that can be used in remote locations whether that’s in space or on the top of Mount Everest or a remote island in the Philippines. So, I still get to do some medicine, I still get to do some research and then fortunately both of those are pretty flexible so it allows me to continue acting as well!
Mohid Moosani: So, what really gave you the faith that you would be able to do all those things? Because as children of course, we have that courage and that self-belief. But as we grow older and face the harsher realities of life, we somehow stop believing in ourselves and give up on our dreams.
Alaina Brinley: I think when I was a kid and people told me I could be anything I wanted to be, I believed them. And so, I’ve definitely had those moments in life where I felt like giving up. Where things were really hard and I did a lot of self-reflection and you know wondered is this the right path? Is this what I should be doing?
But ultimately if you want to accomplish a task or a goal it’s not going to be easy you know uh you’re going to have challenges along the way and so I think what really made me stick to it is just sort of like an inner curiosity like there I think the world is really interesting and I think science is interesting and acting is interesting and there’s so much out there to learn and discover and do and participate in that um you know, I’m never bored I think there’s always something that’s new and exciting to me!
Moosani is a night owl who is either binge watching his favorite shows or scribbling on his notebook writing short stories. Often showing up late at work and gulping down 6-7 cups of coffee is his usual practice.