27 Things We Learned On Zoom With "Never Have I Ever" Star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan
"When Angela Kinsey from The Office played Ben's mom, and I found out, I may or may not have cried of happiness in the makeup trailer."
Season 2 of Never Have I Ever is officially here, and dare I say, it's even better than Season 1. After the emotional (and a little bit chaotic) Season 1 finale, Season 2 follows Devi as she figures out her romantic feelings for Paxton and Ben, and decides which one is ~boyfriend material~. With more jokes, cuter outfits, and even stronger character development, the new season will leave your heart full of love for Devi and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan.
To celebrate Season 2's arrival, Maitreyi sat down with BuzzFeed to talk about her most starstruck moment from Season 1, filming NHIE and auditioning for Netherfield Girls during a pandemic, the one piece of advice she'd give to Devi, and more! Here's everything we learned:
1. First, what was it like becoming an overnight sensation after Never Have I Ever Season 1 dropped in the middle of a global pandemic?
It was a lot. Definitely a lot. Sort of confusing, weird to navigate. But I mean, I feel like we sort of got through that initial hurdle. And I feel like we're getting ready to do it again, in a way. Part of me felt like it was sort of fake though, because it was all online. It's all digital. And it was like, "Nah, nah, this could be like an internet hoax." There was a little bit of a surreal element to it.
BuzzFeed: Did you ever have anyone recognize you when you went out? It was probably difficult because everyone had masks on.
So, in like the peak of quarantine, like when the show dropped, I didn't actually go out at all. Because I live with my whole family, I wasn't really gonna risk it. The first time I went out for even just like a walk would have probably been probably October [of 2020]. And then in November, we started filming again. But I did have some times when I'd go to the store and people heard me talk. They were like, "Your voice sounds so familiar." And I'm like, "Yeah...sure!" Apparently, I have a very familiar voice.
2. And then, what was it like filming Season 2 during the pandemic?
That was definitely a trip. A mixed bag of emotions, because on one hand, we are so grateful to be able to film, right? Because not everyone can say that. A lot of people lost their jobs during COVID-19, which is truly frightening for a lot of people and their livelihoods. So, I was very, very blessed and thankful that we got to go back to work, and actually act on that Season 2, and get it done. I'm very proud of all of us, but it was also scary, because, you know, it is an actual pandemic. Science is real!
I'm very thankful for my cast and my fellow crew members that were willing to come to work under those conditions. They weren't able to just go home and see their family, or see their extended family, while the world is slowly opening up. We all had to truly be satisfied with each other's company every day for work for five months. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all the crew members, for taking that risk and putting the time and effort into the show because Season 2...you'd never know it was filmed during COVID-19. It looks so good.
BuzzFeed: Yeah, I was watching the first few episodes and it looks exactly the same. You would think it was filmed years ago before the pandemic ever happened.
But little do you know, that in almost every one of my [shirt] sleeves — because you know, female pants pockets aren't deep — my mask is hidden in there.
3. You’ve talked a lot about your audition process for Never Have I Ever, but what was it like meeting Mindy Kaling for the first time?
The first time I saw Mindy was in the audition room. I was in the waiting room and she was leaving the actual audition room. That was the first time I saw someone famous in my life. I was like, "Whoa, that's crazy!" I only freaked out for three seconds, because I was like, "You got to get this together. She's a normal human being. Don't be weird." Then, I did the audition. My mindset was, "I'm probably not going to be back. This is a really cool experience, though. So, I'm going to make the most of it."
All of my friends said, "Don't do any Office references. Don't be weird, and don't say a bunch of Michael Scott lines." So, I was like, "Hey, Mindy, I'm a really big fan of The Office... I'm just letting you know, I can do [some Office jokes] if you want. But I'm choosing not to do that. But I want you to know, I have the facilities for that." Then, I asked her if my dad could come in and take a picture.
BuzzFeed: How did Mindy respond when you said that?
She thought it was funny! My mindset was like, "I'm not gonna see her again. I need to let her know how much I absolutely adore this show, and have watched it over 15 times, and is truly like my comfort show."
4. That's amazing, you seem like you have such a great dynamic together, what's your favorite part about working with Mindy?
She's so funny and just a delight to talk to. At the beginning of filming, when I would be able to talk to her just between tapes and whatnot, I would sometimes drop Office references in my regular speech. I'd just be like, "Oh, the turntables, how the turntables." And she would pick up on it, when other people might not necessarily understand. She didn't clown me for it. She's actually really cool to hang out with. She's a great mentor.
5. So, after Season 1, there’s been so much talk about Team Ben vs. Team Paxton, but of course at the end of the day, it’s really all about Team Devi. What are your thoughts on the whole love triangle thing?
Okay, I love triangle drama. I would like to think if I wasn't the person playing Devi, I would still say Team Devi. I feel like if I were an audience member, I would have been so open to the drama and been like, "Yeah, I'm going to pick a team." But I really hope I wouldn't do that. It's all about Devi. Team Devi all the way, because self-love is so important. She really has to work on herself, first and foremost.
6. Do you remember what it was like meeting Darren Barnet and Jaren Lewison — who play Paxton and Ben — for the first time?
Yes, I do. At the first table read, I was like, five minutes early. But there was one kid in there already. He gets up and is like, "Hey!" and just comes running to me, arms open about to hug me. I was like, "Who is this? Who is...oh Jaren! Ben Gross! Hi!" I don't really like to do big hugs like that, but I was like, "Okay, hello." He says, "So nice to meet you. It's gonna be great. I'm so excited." He was so energized. Then, we were just talking. Two minutes right after that, Darren walks through, and we're like, "Oh my god, you're Paxton."
We're all talking in like a little triangle and the conversation sort of stops because we're trying to think, like, "Okay, what's another thing we can talk about? We're still getting to know each other." Then Darren says, "Hmm, you're taller than I thought you'd be." And Jaren says, "Yeah...you're pretty tall." I'm like, "Is that a problem...?" I'm actually average height for a Canadian woman, 5'6"!
7. Do you have a favorite memory from either Season 1 or Season 2?
There's a lot. If anybody showed me any clip of Never Have I Ever, I could tell you exactly what was going on behind the scenes. I have this memory that just retains all this useless information, including lines from Season 1 that I don't need.
8. Devi is pretty much a fashion icon, do you have a favorite outfit from Season 2?
There's a lot in Season 2. I think I like Season 2 attire better than Season 1. It's more fall-esque, which I really like. But I will just say there's this one pretty nice outfit in the last episode of season 2.
9. If you could give your character Devi any piece of advice, what would it be?
Breathe, dude, take a breath. It's all good. It's gonna be okay. I would just tell her, "Hey, man, you're actually not as terrible as you think. You think you're terrible. You're acting like you are confident, and you're acting like you got this all under control, but it's okay. You don't and that's okay." That's what I would tell her.
10. Is there an NHIE cast group chat?
Oh, definitely a group chat. Yes. I'll be honest, though. There's a group chat. And then there's a group chat called "The UN" and it's just Lee, Ramona, and myself, but it's literally just the UN. Good. We fall into the nickname. Okay, we embrace it!
11. You were also just cast in The Netherfield Girls, congrats! Is there anything you can share about that?
So far, it's been what everyone has seen, the Variety article. We have yet to start filming, but I'm super excited. It's gonna be really fun. And it's such a nice role. Like, of course, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is iconic and there are so many adaptations of it. Let's be real, there's a lot of adaptations for a reason. I'm excited to take on Elizabeth Bennett.
12. Did the audition process change for Netherfield Girls because of the pandemic?
It was really funny because during one of our COVID-19 shutdowns for Never Have I Ever — I hate just sitting around and not working — so I told my team, "Get me all of the meetings right now. All the meetings, all the self-tapes. Let's do it." That's what I did during the shutdown. I met with the director. I read the full script, had an honest conversation, and it went off from there.
13. Name a celebrity on your bucket list that you'd love to work with.
BuzzFeed: As many as you want!
Okay, Steve Carell, of course. Ryan Reynolds, because Canadian homie. I feel like we'd have really good vibes and jokes together. Melissa McCarthy, because I think she's an absolute genius with comedy. She's really great. I'll go with those top three.
13. What's the first thing you do after you wake up?
Probably check my phone. Bad habit, I know. The first app would be my messages because like my real close circle, they know: message me. Don't DM me.
14. What are you currently watching on Netflix?
I recently just rewatched BoJack Horseman and I promise you, I'm fine!
16. What's your go-to karaoke song?
"I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor.
17. If you could invite three people — living or dead — to a party, who'd you choose?
Stan Lee. We're birthday twins, Dec. 28, and he's also a genius. I would love to talk to him. Audrey Hepburn. Style queen, icon. I admire her career so much. And Taylor Swift. I really look up to her career and I think she's just a really all-around great human being. Those are just the three off the top of my head, but I'm sure there's more.
18. Since you're such a big Marvel fan, who are your favorite MCU characters?
I'm most similar to Gamora. So Gamora, we'll put her there. Then I'll put Dr. Strange, Stephen Strange. And then I'm an Iron Man kind of gal. So Tony Stark. I love the character arc.
19. If anyone could play you on a TV show, who would it be?
I don't know...actually, my answer to that is I don't know them yet. Because I'd want to pull a Mindy and do an open casting call.
20. Who's your current celebrity crush?
Really tough choice, but they're really cool. They're a little underground, though. You might not know them? Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, they're like pretty hot.
BuzzFeed: [Laughter] Oooh nice, I'll look her up.
No, I just don't have celebrity crushes. Yeah, generally, I don't have a celebrity crush. I just find it weird to crush on someone I don't know. So just like me. Self-love! Now people are gonna think I'm some egocentric God complex maniac. That's fine.
21. What's a typical day for you at the moment?
When I'm not filming? Sleeping in a little bit. You know, like 2 p.m. kind of vibes. And then I'm a night owl. So, I'll stay up through the night until like 6 or 7 a.m. and get all my work done, pet my dog. I love bothering my dog so much, but she bothers me too. So it's mutual. I'm not the bad guy here. She's a bad guy too!
22. What's the last thing you looked up on Google?
I Googled a meme because I needed to save it and send it to my friend. It's Doge, like the Doge dog, bonking? Please, BuzzFeed, insert a picture so it's clear and it's not me explaining a meme?
23. Describe your style in three words.
Hmm, my style...comfy...classy...I was gonna say black because I like to wear a lot of black, but I realize the irony of what's going on right now. [Author's note: Maitreyi was, in fact, wearing green at the time of this interview.] Maybe I'm a little color confused. We'll go with the third word as smart. I like a bunch of different aesthetics, but I like to always dress smart.
24. What's your wildest fan story?
I mean, I haven't had a lot of fan interactions because of COVID-19 times and whatnot. But I did get fan mail once. That felt pretty profesh. I was like, "Whoa!" A physical letter. I thought that was really kind.
25. Have you picked up any new quarantine hobbies?
I started learning violin via YouTube. Yeah, I got a violin and I'm like, trying to learn off of YouTube videos because I can't find a teacher right now.
26. What's the movie or TV show that made you want to become an actor?
Honestly, people are gonna call me basic, but The Office. I've watched that show so many times to understand the camera angles and how they make certain things funny. It's really fascinating. And yeah, if somebody asked me, "How did you practice acting?" I watched The Office. That's what I'll have to like credit it to. It's situational comedy. They're not given funny jokes. They're given funny circumstances.
27. And finally, who have you been most starstruck by?
I don't really get starstruck for long. It's just more like, "Oh my God, this is actually happening!" And then it's like, "Okay, cool. Let's just be friends." But when Angela Kinsey from The Office played Ben's mom, and I found out, I may or may not have cried of happiness in the makeup trailer. My goal is to get through all The Office characters and meet them all. I definitely cried when I saw her name on the call sheet. Then when I met her, I was super chill. I was like, "Hey, hi. Like, I'm a big fan. Big fan of The Office." Then Jaren came in and said, "Hey, did you know she cried when she found out it was you?"
BuzzFeed: What a traitor!
What a traitor! I'm never crying over anything again.