Growing Up Smith marks Roni Akurati’s feature film debut. The first-generation Indian-American son of Rajani and Ramesh Akurati was born in Chicago. It was his passion for dance that led him into acting, beginning with the role of Tiny Tim in the Goodman Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol. Even though the part had only one line of dialogue, it was Akurati’s character who got the privilege of declaring at the end of every performance, “God bless us, every one!” In 2015, Akurati returned to the Goodman in the pivotal role of Mowgli in Disney’s critically praised The Jungle Book, which finished its run at Boston’s Huntington Theatre. He has also appeared on Chicago stages as the Indian Changeling Boy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the 3625- seat Lyric Opera, Chicago: Stories from the City at Gorilla Tango Theatre and Sleeping Beauty with SOPA Productions.