Canada’s own Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is going to have some Oscar-winning company when her breakout series, Never Have I Ever, returns for a second season. That’s because rapper-turned actor Common (Selma) is bringing his star power to the show.
Netflix made the announcement in a press release on April 14, revealing that Common is joining the Mindy Kaling-created series in a recurring role. He’ll play a character named Dr. Chris Jackson, “A suave and debonair dermatologist who works in Nalini’s (Poorna Jagannathan) building.” According to the release his high-end practice brings in celebs and impresses pretty much everyone—everyone but Nalini, that is. Can you feel the romantic tension already?
According to Deadline, Kaling and the show writers came up with the character specifically for Common after he revealed that he was a fan of the series. At the recent SAG Awards he revealed that it was one of his favourite watches of the pandemic, making Kaling swoon. “Oscar winner Common is into our show. I wonder if he likes the producers of our show,” the personality said at the time. “I can leave now, can take my mic off.”
In addition to announcing Common as part of the season two cast, Netflix also released some first-look photos of the upcoming season, which debuts this July. In one photo Devi (Ramakrishnan) is making a pros and cons list of the two potential loves of her life, Ben (Jaren Lewison) and Paxton (Darren Barnet). According to the streaming service, the new season will indeed follow her as she navigates “new romantic relationships,” all while continuing to deal with the everyday pressures of high school and her situation at home following her father’s untimely death.
Common isn’t the only one who is a fan of the show. In its first 10-episode season, Never Have I Ever became the most-watched show on Netflix in 10 different countries at the time, including Canada. “I’m truly in shock. I can’t believe that our show about a complicated little Indian family has been seen by this many people,” Kaling shared on Instagram last May. “@loulielang, the entire cast and crew are so grateful to you for making us #1 around the world on @netflix. We love you guys!”
In addition to the viewership love, Never Have I Ever was also nominated for Outstanding New Program at the 2020 Television Critics Association Awards and it received a nod for The Bingeworthy Show of 2020 at that year’s People’s Choice Awards, too. Ramakrishnan was also recognized with a nomination for Best Female Performance in a New Scripted Series at the Independent Spirit Awards, and the entire show won under the Best Young Adult category at the AAFCA TV Honors.
In Canada, Ramakrishnan received her own recognition after she won the role of Devi over many other young women, despite not having any other TV or film work on her resume. She went on to make the TIME’s 100 Next list (Kaling wrote her profile) and she has used her platform to push boundaries in Hollywood ever since.
“I realized before Never Have I Ever, I became used to the idea of not seeing myself or girls who look like me onscreen and it only hit me after I finished filming and after the show came out and I could watch it on Netflix and see my face in the catalogue,” Ramakrishnan told Etalk last October. “I realized, damn, it really sucks to not be seen! It really, really sucks to live your life from the shadows. Because when you don't see yourself, it's basically somebody saying, 'You don't matter. We don't need your face. We don't need people like you,'” she continued.
“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," she added. “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.'”
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