Actor, director and all ’round awesome human Mindy Kaling and Never Have I Ever star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan – both women who have brought South Asian representation to the screen in different ways – have opened up about the first time they felt represented on screen.
In a “Casting Notes” video shared by Netflix Golden, Mindy recalls the 2003 hit soccer rom-com Bend It Like Beckham:
“I related to the athletic part of it,” she jokes.
“So as an athlete, I felt seen. Oh I guess she was Indian, huh?” Mindy adds, referring to main character Jesminta, portrayed by Parminder Nagra, whose traditional Indian parents wanted her to study hard and find a nice boy to settle down with rather than play soccer.
At the time, Parminder was one of only a handful of South Asian women on screen. Hollywood has certainly improved in terms of representation 20 years on – think Priyanka Chopra, Jameela Jamil, Pallavi Sharda, Padma Lakshmi, Richa Moorjani, Poorna Jagannathan, Lilly Singh and of course, 20-year-old Maitreyi who is currently delighting audiences around the world as high schooler Devi Vishwakumar in the Mindy-c0created series, Never Have I Ever.
For Maitreyi, she first felt represented on screen watching Mindy herself:
“I mean, obviously, watching The Office, Kelly Kapoor,” Maitreyi begins. “And when The Mindy Project came out, I’ll never forget my mom being like ‘Yo, yo, Maity, look! She’s Tamil. Like us!'”
Check out the full video HERE – and as Rabbi and author Danya Ruttenberg once wrote: “we need diverse representation not only so every kid can see themselves as the hero of the story, but so that every kid can understand that *other* kinds of kids are *also* the heroes of the story.”
(Feature Image Credit: Ron Adar/Shutterstock; Eugene Powers/Shutterstock)