Entertainment

'Be that change': Maitreyi Ramakrishnan on starring in Mindy Kaling's new comedy

It's been a busy year for 17-year-old Maitreyi Ramakrishnan so far. In a few short months, she's appeared in her school's production of Chicago, graduated high school and beat 15,000 others to snag the central role in Mindy Kaling's new Netflix comedy series.

Mississauga, Ont., teen to play overachieving high school student on Netflix

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, 17, of Mississauga, Ont., beat out 15,000 others for the lead role in a new, unnamed Netflix comedy series being created by Mindy Kaling. (CBC)

It's been a busy year for 17-year-old Maitreyi Ramakrishnan so far. In a few short months, she's appeared in her school's production of Chicago, graduated high school and beat 15,000 others to snag the central role in Mindy Kaling's new Netflix comedy series.

"It's gonna be awesome," the Mississauga, Ont., teen told CBC News about her new starring role in the as-yet-untitled series.

Inspired by elements of Kaling's own upbringing, the series is said to be a coming-of-age tale centred on Devi, a modern-day, first-generation Indian-American teen. She's described as "an overachieving high school sophomore who has a short fuse that gets her into difficult situations" — characteristics Ramakrishnan says she sees in herself "a little bit."

Back in April, when Ramakrishnan saw Kaling's social media casting call, it was her best friend who convinced her to send in a video audition.

"I've always been somebody who loved being on stage, whether it was performing by singing or playing piano," she told CBC's Metro Morning on Friday.

Best known for appearing on The Office and The Mindy Project, Kaling is also a writer and producer of films and TV series. (Emily Aragones/Amazon Studios via Associated Press)

"In high school, I really hit my stride with theatre productions after school and musicals. It's always been a passion of mine: being onstage and performing."

Just days after she submitted her audition, Kaling's team asked to see more. After a "fast and furious" month, which included two quick trips to Los Angeles to audition in person, Ramakrishnan was in.

She was at home in her dining room when Kaling — best known for The Office and The Mindy Project — and co-creator Lang Fisher called to give her the good news.  

One of the things Ramakrishnan is most excited about is that the series will tell stories through the lens of a young, South Asian woman growing up in North America.

Though a big fan of Kaling and The Office, Ramakrishnan said she didn't have many female, South Asian stars to look up to growing up.

Still, that didn't stop the Tamil-Canadian teen from chasing her dream. Her goal is to play strong female characters on television and, eventually, in movies.

"I'm a firm believer that if you don't see what you want in the media or in the world in general, you should go out there and be that change and take up that space," she said.  

"Go after your dreams. Don't stop for anyone."

'I freaked out:' Maitreyi Ramakrishnan on being cast in Mindy Kaling's new series.

Mississauga teen Maitreyi Ramakrishnan talks about the thrill of being asked to play a comedic South-Asian leading female role in a big new Netflix series by 'The Office's Mindy Kaling. 7:05

With files from Metro Morning

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