Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is a Mississauga, Ontario native who made headlines when she landed the role of Devi in Netflix’s Never Have I Ever after a worldwide search of over 15,000 actors. The 10-episode series is a coming-of-age comedy about the life of a modern first-generation Indian American teenage girl, loosely based on Mindy Kaling’s upbringing. Never Have I Ever premiered April 27, 2020 and was renewed for a second season on July 1, 2020. When Maitreyi is not acting, she is an advocate for public education, gender equality and authentic representation. (Photo by Vinsia Maharjah.)
Most of us are sequestered in our homes, doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. That includes some of our favorite artists, so we’re asking them to tell us about one thing — a book, a movie, a record, whatever — that’s helping them get through this difficult time.
At the moment, I’m still getting used to being at home. I’ve been in Canada for the whole of quarantine, in my hometown of Mississauga, Ontario, an hour outside of Toronto.
For me, I’ve gone through all the stages of quarantine: where it’s fine and it’s chill, to where it’s frustrating and I really want to get out, to where it’s back to being chill and I just give up and sleep my days away. It’s been a roller coaster throughout the whole quarantine period, because you’re always being fed little bits of information, some of which are hopeful about things going back to normal, and some of which are saying quarantine is going to be extended. After a while, that information starts to just become announcements that you don’t really take seriously.
At the very beginning stages of quarantine, the whole cast of Never Have I Ever was supposed to go to Los Angeles and do a press junket and a red carpet event, but we opted to be safe rather than sorry. People were on the fence about it before things got so bad, but ultimately decided, “Yeah, this can’t happen.”
I wasn’t so upset about missing out on that stuff. For me, I care more about season two, keeping filming and the actual acting part of Never Have I Ever. It was pretty surreal when the show came out on Netflix, though. I could watch it on my TV and there were all these posters and graphics and marketing for the show, but I was so isolated at home, so I didn’t get to see my friends or other people to hear them say if they loved the show. Everything was just online. I would see reviews and numbers coming in saying how great the show was, but it felt like it was all digital. So I was like, is this real? Is this actually happening?
My own personal plan for this spring – which also got shelved – was to hang out with my friends, up here in Canada, because they finished university in April. That would have been nice, because I would have been able to hang out and chill with them properly at a time when they weren’t busy with academics.
Instead, I’ve been spending lockdown playing a lot of video games, napping, and, of course, bingeing Netflix. At first, I think like everybody thought quarantine was going to only last a week or two. It was almost a joke. But then people realized it was really serious, that they had to stay home and stay safe, for the sake of not only themselves, but also others in their community. At that point, I think people got hit with either a wave of stress, because they felt cooped up, or angst, wanting to get out. Or maybe even genuine loneliness.
Recently, Ontario opened up to groups of 10, so my cousin who lives nearby – who’s the closest family member to us geographically – was allowed to come over to our house. We’re pretty isolated here, but now I get to hang out with her, which is awesome.
If I were to recommend anything to people in quarantine, it would definitely be a Nintendo Switch. Everybody should get one! There are so many games, like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, this totally awesome adventure game which I love, or Mario Kart, which you can just play with other people in your house. Boom!
I’ve been playing video games ever since I was little. When I was younger, my parents were super strict about letting me go to other people’s houses, so I didn’t get to hang out with friends much outside of school. I always joke that my GameCube is my best friend, because that was truly my entertainment growing up. I’ve been a big fan of Nintendo since I was five. My favorite game of all time is Super Smash Bros, but my go-to right now is Animal Crossing, because it’s more chill. You can’t always be fighting, you’ve also got to be chill and balanced. It’s a yin and yang situation.
The last three or four months have been very up and down, so as soon as things really open, I think people are going to act like everything’s all better now and that it’s perfectly OK to do whatever they want. And that’s eventually going to lead to a second wave, because that’s how viruses work. Once the second wave dies down, I hope people will learn their lesson and be socially distanced when they do everyday activities.