One in 15,000: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is changing Hollywood for the better

She knows how important representation is.
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Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is a breath of fresh air, still new to Hollywood and grabbing everyone’s attention in her role as Devi Vishwakumar in the Netflix series Never Have I Ever.

WATCH BELOW: Never Have I Ever Season 2 | Official Trailer | Netflix

Created by the incredibly talented and funny Mindy Kaling, Never Have I Ever tells the coming of age story of Devi, who loses the use of her legs for the three months following the death of her father.

Determined to make her second year at high school better than her first, Devi embarks on a journey that begins with ideally losing her virginity but leads to so much more.

The show has been referred to as a watershed moment for South Asian representation in Hollywood and has put many Asian stereotypes to bed.

One in 15,000: Maitreyi was chosen by Mindy Kaling out of 15,000 auditions. (Credit: Getty)

Where did Maitreyi get her start?

Maitreyi was born and raised in Mississagua, Ontario in Canada, and is of Tamil descent, with her family migrating to Canada from Sri Lanka due to the civil war.

She began performing in school productions in 10th grade and decided to pursue acting in her final years of high school. She landed the role of Devi not long after she graduated.

Maitreyi responded to an open casting call for the role, which was sent to her by her best friend, Shahara.

“I didn’t even know what a self-tape was,” she told Refinery29 of her audition, also admitting that her parents wondered if the casting call was a scam.

She was chosen by Mindy Kaling out of 15,000 other candidates who responded to the call.

Maitreyi goofing around on set. (Credit: Instagram)

Maitreyi is vocal about the need for representation

Maitreyi’s casting as Devi got a lot of media attention, especially given her Tamil background, which pointed to how important it was that more girls like Maitreyi begin to be cast in Hollywood.

Maitreyi grew up not really seeing people like herself on television.

“Because my first appearance of seeing someone that looked like me was Mindy, in The Office, Mindy Project, whatever — I thought it was really awesome that she was a comedian, she was funny. But then I was also like, ‘You’re, like, a grown woman. I can’t relate to Mindy Lahiri’s problems,” she told Teen Vogue.

“We need more stories, we need more storytellers. We can’t just keep relying on Mindy Kaling to keep making all these shows. I want her to keep making more. But I need more people with her,” she added.

“Reality is, we still only have a handful of South Asian representation. What I want to see is [more] when you dwindle it down to South Asian female representation, and then you dwindle it down even more to young South Asian female representation.”

Maitreyi with Mindy Kaling. (Credit: Getty)

She’s passionate about other feminist issues

Maitreyi recently made headlines for a series of tweets she posted about body hair.

“Say it with me everybody, hairlessness ≠ femininity. now your turn,” she wrote to her 83,000 followers.

“What makes me say that last tweet is also the fact that I just f**king know if I ever decide to shave my arms, by my own choice, people are really gonna say I’m a sell out/lost my roots or whatever bullsh*t. just let people live man ffs,” she added.

Shaving can often be a contentious issue among women, with many feeling judged for their decision to either remove their body hair or keep it, making Maitreyi’s demand that we ‘just let people live’ a rather important one.

Maitreyi on set as Devi. (Credit: Instagram)

She’s dedicated to ongoing representation in Hollywood

There’s no doubt Maitreyi has made history for the way she has broken into Hollywood and changed representation.

“That pressure is there — I’m not saying I don’t like the pressure. Reality is, I want to do people justice the best way I possibly can,” she told Refinery29.

“I’m going to keep trying to get more roles that truly represent the South Asian community, women in general, and kids my age. Because sometimes we’re just depicted as brats, and we’re not just brats, you know?” 

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