The New Hollywood North: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan

She beat out 15,000 other young women to play the star of Mindy Kaling’s hit rom-com series Never Have I Ever

By Soraya Roberts| Photography by Emma McIntyre
| August 17, 2022

Age: 20 Known for: Starring in the Netflix series Never Have I Ever
Up next: Shooting the show’s final season

In a parallel, lazier universe, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is not the star of Mindy Kaling’s teen rom-com series, Never Have I Ever. The Tamil Canadian actor was in her final year at Mississauga’s Meadowvale High School when her best friend sent her the casting call with the message, “Yo, let’s do this.” Rama­krishnan, relaxing on her couch, was about to text back a hard no—it seemed like too much effort; she was tired from school. But, she says, ­“Something in me was like, You know what? Why not?

The New Hollywood North: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan

Less than three months later, Rama­krishnan beat out 15,000 other young women to play Devi Vishwakumar, an open-hearted nerd navigating puberty, early love and friendships. She had never appeared on screen before. “It was a really steep learning curve,” she says. “I didn’t know any of the technical terms. What’s an eyeline? What’s a mark? But the crew was amazing. They were so patient and taught me everything.”

Never Have I Ever transformed Ramakrishnan from a rookie actor into a global star. More than 40 million viewers watched the first season, making it one of Netflix’s most successful shows ever. It earned the 2021 People’s Choice Award for comedy of the year. When we caught up with Ramakrishnan in July, she was in LA shooting the show’s fourth and final season. (It was renewed before the third even aired.) “It’s pretty awesome that we get to know that it’s the last season,” she says, “so we can give it a proper send off.”

In between shoots, Ramakrishnan has been racking up voice credits for animated films and series, a genre dear to her heart: as a kid, she dreamed of being a Disney animator. She was one of the leads in the Toronto-set Pixar film Turning Red and the rebellious Pegasus Zipp Storm in YouTube’s My Little Pony.

Ramakrishnan has twice deferred her admission to York University, switching from theatre to human rights and equity studies. “I wanted to learn something that would use the other side of my brain, something different from what I do as my career,” she says. “I have the privilege to be able to go to university. I want to make the most of it.”

Makeup by Vivian Maxwell, hair by Josh Liu, wardrobe by Sarah Toshiko West

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