Wanna Know How ‘Never Have I Ever’ Landed Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Its Perfect Desi-American Teen?

Maitreyi even ditched the callback from the producers!

Of the many reasons Netflix subscribers unequivocally fell in love with its latest YA series, Never Have I Ever, the biggest is newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, the 18-year-old star of the Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher created teen drama. She brought Devi to life onscreen, fitting like a jigsaw puzzle to all that Kaling and Fisher had in mind for the character-a nerd with a “big personality” and an obvious sense of self-worth. But did you know Maitreyi had NO plans of auditioning for the role in the first place? Yep.

So, it all started with the viral tweet of Mindy Kaling last year in April about a casting search for Never Have I Ever

And the only reason, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan send in her audition tape was because her best friend was busy taping one and she wanted to spend more time with her bestie, something she hadn’t been able to do for a long time. They filmed their audition tapes together but Maitreyi, whose acting experience was a one-time role of Velma Kelly in a high school play Chicago, had zero expectations of ever getting a callback. 

And there were Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, overwhelmed by 15,000 plus audition tapes in response to their hunt for the lead actress

“In writing about teens, I wanted someone who was very interested in that and had a lot of experience watching those shows,” Kaling said. Fisher, too, was looking for a young talent who would fit the demands of Devi’s character- “confidence and a big personality.” 

So, they went through tons of tapes and landed across Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s audition (Psst, just FYI, she had to search what “self-tape” was and figure out her mom’s camera before she taped the audition that landed her the coveted role!). But when the producers called her, hoping to invite her to Los Angeles for a screen test, she didn’t even pick up as she though it was a spam number. But thank god they emailed her, ‘cause we probably wouldn’t have fallen in love with Devi’s character if it was someone else in Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s shoes. Whew!

After her screen test, there wasn’t one person in the room who wasn’t impressed with Maitreyi Ramakrishnan 

Mindy Kaling, especially, was taken by Maitreyi’s confidence as she gave “endless high fives” to casting directors during auditions and how she did not talk to them like a “scared, deferential foreign teenager.”

In fact, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan added her own qualities to Devi- a “really informal and comfortable” vibes plus a “California energy” that made her character seem authentic and lived-in, as observed by Kaling. 

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