New York Times Names 18-Year-Old Maitreyi Ramakrishnan Among Year’s Best Actors

The Canadian actress who starred in "Never Have I Ever" wants you to know her "20-letter name."
Canadian actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan.
Canadian actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan.

After the year she’s had, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan should feel proud of herself.

The 18-year-old actress from Mississauga, Ont. had never acted onscreen when she was cast in Mindy Kaling’s semi-autobiographical teen coming-of-age show “Never Have I Ever” last year. She beat out 15,000 other young actors vying for the starring role as the smart, strong-willed, sometimes misguided Devi Vishwakumar, a 16-year-old struggling to fit in at school and mourn her father’s death. No pressure!

But Ramakrishnan more than delivered. She debuted to critical acclaim, including being labeled the show’s “breakout star” by HuffPost.

This week, she can add another accolade to the list: she made it onto the New York Times’ annual list of the year’s best actors.

Her response expressed pride, despite her very relatable frequent self-doubt.

“Like many, I’m very critical and rarely feel proud of myself,” Ramakrishnan wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Today I’m proud.”

The newspaper’s critic A.O. Scott didn’t hold back in his effusive praise of her “Never Have I Ever” performance.

“There aren’t many shows that have so persuasively dramatized a young person’s intellectual development. Nor are there many performers who have captured that growth as insightfully as Ramakrishnan,” he wrote. “When we witness Devi’s mind expanding, what we are really beholding is Ramakrishnan’s brilliance.”

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan with Poorna Jagannathan and Richa Shukla Moorjani in "Never Have I Ever."
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan with Poorna Jagannathan and Richa Shukla Moorjani in "Never Have I Ever."

Her response also noted how rare it is to see an actor with such a long, non-Anglicized name on a list of that kind. Her name does stand out from others on the list, like Sarah Cooper or Ethan Hawke.

“I’ll keep working hard to get my 20-letter name on more lists,” Ramakrishnan wrote on Twitter.

During one of her first-ever interviews, with the Toronto weekly Now Magazine, she said she would never compromise her identity, starting with her name.

“If you can say the character names in ‘Game Of Thrones,’ you can say my Tamil name,” she told the magazine.

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