Maitreyi Ramakrishnan Wants to Change How You See TV and Film

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan Wants to Change How You See TV and Film

Can we talk about Devi’s style? It consists of a lot of mixed prints and cool layering. What were the initial conversations for her wardrobe, and how do you think it has evolved over the three seasons?

The first person I actually ever spoke to on the show from the crew was the costume designer of seasons one and two, Salvador Pérez. He worked on all The Mindy Project seasons. He called me on Skype because this was pre-pandemic and nobody knew what Zoom was. I was in Canada, and he was getting to know me. I was telling everyone, like my parents, “Okay, quiet, this is a serious call.” We’re getting to know each other, and [Salvador] asked, “What kind of clothes do you like?” And I was like, “Hoodies are really cool. I have a lot of sweaters and stuff.” And then he asked, “What kind of colors do you like?” And I said, “Black is cool because it matches with everything, so I find I wear a lot of black and dark green or dark blue, just dark colors.” It was so difficult because he was trying to incorporate my own style, but he nailed it. Starting the show, I loved that Devi was very different from my personal style. But now, because of Devi [and] working with all of those prints and discovering all of these colors, I’ve been able to explore fashion more. Right now, I’m just actually in my dark-green hoodie and black sweatpants, but in my normal life, I’m not dressed like this. I’ve been able to dabble in more color and prints because I’ve gotten to experiment and try with Devi. Some of Devi’s stuff I can see is very influenced by Mindy’s outfits on The Mindy Project, which is really great. Fabric from season one—when Devi is doing the little fashion-show shoot for Paxton’s sister—is actually fabric that was used in The Mindy Project. Or there are these bangles that Devi is wearing in episode four of season one that were actually Mindy’s bangles yet again from The Mindy Project. I love Devi’s style. I think it’s so cool. How can anyone think this kid is not cool when she pulls up to school like that? It’s the biggest plot hole in Never Have I Ever. The UN of Eleanor, Fabiola, and Devi, that doesn’t make sense. They look too fly to be nerds. That’s a plot hole. I’m going to say it. I love Fabiola’s polos.  

What has been one of the most rewarding aspects of being a part of this project?

One? There’s a lot. One off the top of my head, if I’m taking a broad stroke here, is that it’s interesting as we are getting to the end of filming because it’s like, “Wow, this is done.” I had this moment where I was like, “Wait, Maitreyi, what did you think was going to happen? What did 19-, 18-, 17-year-old you think was going to happen? Do we just continue to do this show forever? God, talk about denial, bro.” Obviously, there has to be an end. But then I’m like, “Wow, no matter what projects come my way eventually or whatever, this will always be the first one.” And that’s always going to be special, no matter what I do. That’s the coolest thing in the world. This will always be the first one, and it’s so game-changing. The show has really shown the world so much about proper inclusive representation and diversity within casting. We’re not just that brown-girl show. We are just a funny show who happens to have a brown girl at the front. And I think that’s really awesome. The moment I found out people referenced Never Have I Ever in college essays, that’s crazy. This is truly a game changer that is way bigger than the character of Devi. 

Thinking ahead to what’s next for you, what are the projects or stories that really excite you?

Honestly, projects that fall into that similar vein of “I’m going to make you feel something and change how you see film and TV,” [projects that] make you realize that characters who look like me can do more than just one thing. … One thing I’ve got to learn is how to take a vacation because it’s been a hot minute. But that aside, because of how impactful Devi is and how I was saying earlier that she covers a lot of ground in the character that she is, I only want to take characters that are like that, that are on par if not more. That’s only respectful to Devi, my homegirl. I can’t be taking on some tokenized character after that or being a part of a project that’s just surface level. And surface level doesn’t mean to say just a comedy that makes you laugh. It doesn’t have to be dark, scary, or sad. Never Have I Ever is a comedy, but we’ll still get you crying. So that’s the kind of project I want to move on to or things I want to be a part of.