“She really showed herself”: Canadian teenager shines in Mindy Kaling’s new comedy, Never Have I Ever

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She is the star of a series of teen comedies on Netflix – at the right time for quarantine during the pandemic – and has actress Mindy Kaling as one of her mentors.

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, 18, born in Mississauga, Ontario, catapulted to Hollywood after being hand picked last year by Kaling, known for her roles on Office and Late at night. Ramakrishnan responded to an open casting call on social media to star in Kaling’s new comedy series, I have never.

The series, which begins Monday on Netflix, is already receiving critical acclaim and promises entertainment worthy of young people stranded at home and hungry for antics in high school by proxy.

After watching the original video Ramakrishnan sent for fun, shot by his best friend in their community library, “because none of us had, like, a pretty white wall” – the producers wanted to see more.

“They asked me to send more tapes,” Ramakrishnan told CBC News. “I read this email thinking, ‘OK, the standard must have been low’ … like, ‘This is an automated email, right?’ “

Far from there.

WATCH | Maitreyi Ramakrishnan from Never Have I Ever and co-creator Lang Fisher discuss the casting:

A new teen comedy by Mindy Kaling portrayed a 15,000-hopeful Canadian inexperienced professional actor 2:39

Assume a show

According to Kaling and co-creator Lang Fisher, 15,000 hopes had come from all over the world to embody the adolescent character of Devi Viswakumar before landing on Ramakrishnan. She was cast without experience as a professional actress.

“It could have gone so bad. It really could have been a major mistake, ”said Fisher. “All of a sudden, a show goes up on your shoulders and the only thing you did before is your high school production of Chicago. I think I would have had panic attacks. But she didn’t. She really showed up. ”

I have never follows Devi, 15, an outmoded high school student whose excitement and decision-making are often motivated by a combination of adolescent emotions and hormones. She also tries to cope with the death of her father.

Never Have I Ever is a product produced by Mindy Kaling, known for The Office, The Mindy Project and Late Night. (Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)

Resonance added

The story, loosely based on Kaling’s childhood, weaves the difficult and unique balancing act experienced by many first generation children: trying to navigate a traditional household, often strict (Devi describes himself as Indian, but not “Indian, Indian”) and also manage teenagers’ regular desires for friends, popularity and romance.

The series arrives as Netflix reports nearly 16 million new subscribers amid global blockages. It could also take on additional resonance, as physical remoteness deprived many adolescents of formative experiences, such as spending time together and attending the ball.

“During this forties, it’s really stressful for teens,” said Nancy Wang Yuen, Los Angeles-based sociologist and author of the book, Coil inequality: Hollywood actors and racism. “To see you represented and to be able to perhaps think about some of the issues that you are also dealing with – being able to see what is depicted on the screen – I think it’s healthy. “

Poorna Jagannathan, on the right, plays the mother of Devi, a teenage girl trying to navigate the world of high school during the day and a traditional Indian household the rest of the time. (Lara Solanki / Netflix)

“Things can go well”

Fisher, who serves as a series showrunner, has previously written for comedies, such as 30 Rock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Kaling The Mindy project.

“What I hope is that the teenagers who watch this will feel like someone is showing them how to express what they are feeling and that they will see, for example, that there is light down the tunnel, “said Fisher. “Although times are tough right now, things can be OK on the road. “

While the series focuses on Devi’s charming getaways and brash behavior, it also addresses grief, family tensions and belonging.

Ramakrishnan, on the left, plays Devi, whose sidekicks have their own stories. (Lara Solanki / Netflix)

The aspiring actor, who isolates himself in Mississauga with his family, “keeps his fingers crossed” for a season 2, but for the moment, he returns to teenage life.

“I’m just making my own videos here at home, working on my TikTok,” she joked, when asked how she kept busy. “Because that’s what you do in quarantine. “

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