TIME’s TIME100 Next profiles help recognize leaders of tomorrow and shares the profiles of a younger group that’s making a positive impact on the world. Canadian actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan made this year’s list and Mindy Kaling wrote her profile, calling the Never Have I Ever star "a great artist at the beginning of her journey."
The pair met when Mindy was holding an open casting call for a South Asian teen actress to play the lead in her new Netflix series, Never Have I Ever. After two auditions in Los Angeles, Maitreyi beat out over 15,000 other applications and went on to star in the Netflix series along with her mentor Mindy, who she calls her “fairy godmother” on social media.
In her profile, Mindy wrote that when you’re a minority woman with your own show, you “gotta represent.” She continued, “It’s a tough job to be in that spotlight, where you are scrutinized for your every action, but it’s exhilarating too. People come up to you at the airport or online and say those three magic words: ‘I feel seen.’ It’s a huge responsibility—and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is exactly the kind of talented young woman who is up to the task.”
Mindy added that while Maitreyi may come off as “a carefree teen in her hilarious TikToks and Instagram videos,” she believes the 19-year-old actress is “a gifted comic actress.”
“She studies her craft and takes it seriously. Moreover, she’s an artist who cares deeply about the material she’s performing, and what it’s saying. She has an activist’s heart and wants to use her platform to help others,” Mindy added.
The Office actress said that the most extraordinary thing about Maitreyi is “when you’re with her, you think you’re simply talking to a cool, smart teenager, but later, when you see her onscreen, you realize you were actually interacting with a great artist at the beginning of her journey.”
Maitreyi, who’s from Mississauga, Ontario, is just at the beginning of her career, and we cannot wait to see what she gets up to next. She recently received her first major acting nomination for an Independent Spirit Award for her role in Never Have I Ever. She also accepted the People’s Choice Award for Best Comedy Show along with Mindy.
Maitreyi joins the TIME100 Next list with other famous artists, phenoms, leaders, advocates and innovators like Chloé Zhao, profiled by Frances McDormand; Dua Lipa, profiled by Kylie Minogue; Euphoria star Hunter Schafer, profiled by Zendaya; Malcolm & Marie actor John David Washington, profiled by Spike Lee; Amanda Gorman, profiled by Lin-Manuel Miranda; TikTok star Charli D’Amelio profiled by Jennifer Lopez; Bridgerton actor Regé-Jean Page, profiled by Shonda Rhimes; "Drivers License" singer Olivia Rodrigo, profiled by Gwen Stefani and many more.
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In her video for her TIME100 Next profile, Maitreyi said that going from high school to Hollywood two weeks after she graduated “was crazy.” She added,” When I first started filming season one, I wonder if I was confident or naïve to understand, like, how big this was going to be."
She said that it was amazing to have Mindy pick her for the role because “for once somebody saw something that I didn’t see in myself.”
“My family are so amazing and great at roasting me to keep me humble,” she added. “To make sure I don’t have an inflated ego.” Maitreyi said that she gets her confidence from being around people that support her and lift her up, but it’s also about being honest with yourself.
When it comes to her acting career, Maitreyi said she feels a “sense of responsibility to take strong roles that have actual character and story to them.” She continued, “All genres are great, but it just matters about the actual character depth and what the project is trying to say to audiences.”
Maitreyi is on one of the six Time100 Next issue worldwide covers. She shared her cover on Twitter, writing, "Thank you for seeing me as I am @MindyKaling."
Maitreyi previously told etalk’s Liz Trinnear that representing "girls like her" helps her go forward in her acting career.
"I want to make sure that I tackle more projects outside Never Have I Ever and I continue to take on characters that would probably get into a fight with Devi 'cause they're totally different," Maitreyi said. "That's what I want—to keep pushing the boundaries of Hollywood to make them realize, 'Hey, we do matter. All these stories are important. They are great stories and they deserve to be told.'"
Maitreyi is also a Plan International Canada global ambassador and she said that had been nearly a decade in the making. "When I was 10 I remember clearly seeing [Plan] in a mall giving out pamphlets and seeing them talk about child marriage and I was so shocked," she previously told etalk. "I didn't realize that was something that happened and my 10-year-old self was like, 'Whoa, girls my age around the world are just being married.' So from that day on I kept educating myself about what's going on in the world in all these other countries and how I can help."
"I'm very passionate about gender equality, especially empowering girls all around the world," she continued. "And, of course, education—I am so blessed to have such an amazing education system that helped me get to where I am so that one really hits home. I believe that everybody's right to education is so important. Really, all human rights."
Many of Maitreyi's fans took to Twitter to celebrate her inclusion in TIME's 2021 list of the next 100 most influential people in the world.
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