Tamil-Canadian actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan stars in the popular Netflix series ‘Never Have I Ever’ following a teenage Tamil girl, ‘Devi Vishwakumar’, as she navigates life through an American High school involving romances, her father passing away and family drama.
With the recent release of the third season, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan has grown even more in fame and popularity, reaching over 3 million followers on Instagram. Maitreyi rose to fame as soon as the series was released in April 2020 and has since achieved being the cover of Teen Vogue in August 2021 and recently winning the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television’s Radius Award. She has also landed roles as a voice actress, featuring in this year's Disney Pixar release Turning Red.
As the daughter of Tamil refugees who were forced to flee Sri Lanka, Maitreyi has been adamant about the label of her nationality and her culture. In an interview with NOW Magazine, Maitreyi stated, ‘my identity isn’t being Sri Lankan. That’s not my country. My country is Canada. But my culture is definitely Tamil.’
Her role in the show has given viewers a strong South Asian and Tamil representative in mainstream media. Both on and off set, Maitreyi has become a relatable character for all South Asian teenagers, particularly Tamil girls, and has used her new platform to portray our community and culture with pride.
One-way Maitreyi has achieved this is by posting a voice memo on Twitter to demonstrate how to pronounce her name correctly. In a recent interview with Teen Vogue, she said ‘I expect the respect of people trying to say my name and giving their best attempt every time,’ becoming a respectable role model to Tamils surrounded by Western culture and people. Maitreyi hopes and aims to continue to grow South Asian representation in the media in future.
After an exciting and chaotic season for the main character, Devi, Maitreyi stated, ‘I hope Devi has taught young brown women that it’s okay if they make mistakes, it’s okay to be imperfect, it’s okay to feel a lot of emotions and it’s okay to feel them very strongly because that only makes you you.’