You probably remember Rajiv Surendra as Kevin G from Mean Girls — but after the movie wrapped, he seemingly disappeared from Hollywood.
It turns out that it wasn't his plan to abandon acting, and he actually spent years of his life preparing for a role that didn't pan out.
After shooting Mean Girls during his freshman year of college, Rajiv says he found out they were turning The Life of Pi into a movie, and he became determined to get the role.
"I dropped out of college to go to the little town in India where the book takes place so that I could do some in-depth research," Rajiv explained in an interview with GQ.
When he returned a few months later, he waited on production to begin, but then the film lost its director and got put on hold. Rajiv went back to college.
"The project kept getting delayed. Three months turned into a year, turned into four years. It was actually six years because of that year off," Rajiv said, noting that the project went through four different directors.
He continued, "Every time a new director [came aboard], I’d go to the library and get out all the movies they had made and research that director. I worked really really hard to try to get this part."
After years of dedication, the studio ended up going with someone else — a rejection that made him feel "like someone had died."
"Very slowly over the course of six years, I was building this boy that was a character in a book. By the end of those years, that was a real person inside of me," he said.
"When I got the email saying I didn’t get the part, I felt like that person just died instantly. It was traumatic. I think I was in shock for a couple weeks," Rajiv shared, admitting that he felt that he could no longer go on with acting.
From there, Rajiv walked away from Hollywood and tried to get a job at a bank. But he quickly realized he wasn't satisfied working a corporate job.
He moved to Germany and got a job working for a family as an au pair — an experience that brought him "back to life."
"It was a good lesson for me. You have to listen to yourself and if there’s something inside telling you 'I don’t want to do this or I can’t do this.' Then you have to figure out what you actually want to do," Rajiv said.
He added, "Sometimes it doesn’t make any sense because sometimes it means you are going to have no money or career wise you’re going backwards."
For Rajiv, his life is driven by his curiosity. After starting a calligraphy business that took off, he now spends time exploring all the arts, from pottery to knitting — and truly living up to the "Martha Stewart" nickname he earned on the Mean Girls set.
He creates DIY content with HGTV and just launched his own YouTube channel, where he hopes to share his love of the "creative and domestic arts" with others.
"I think everybody has moments in their life where they are like, I hate my life," he said. "People entertain the idea of doing something else but it’s scary. It’s scary to risk everything and leave the security of everything you know and go to a place where you don't know anything. But you have to do that."
As for his future with acting and a potential Mean Girls sequel? Rajiv says he doesn't want to "ruin a good thing."
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.