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Maitreyi Ramakrishnan: 'Wearing a sari on Never Have I Ever made me feel really special'

I wore this look for my first press junket in Los Angeles to promote Never Have I Ever. It’s part of Nike’s Michael Jordan line for women. As soon as I saw it, I remember thinking: “Oh my God, this is the coolest thing ever” – it just looked so kick-ass, but also comfy. The shoes are from Steve Madden – I think boots with heels are really confident. I had a lot of compliments that day.

I would describe my usual style as very feminine and masculine at the same time. I’m a sucker for hoodies. In lockdown, I’ve been looking at a lot of hoodies online to wear while playing video games or the piano, or bingeing on Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix. They’re slowly taking over my closet.

My favourite thing I wore as Devi [the character she plays in Never Have I Ever, which is based loosely on a teenage Mindy Kaling] was the half-sari in the episode where we celebrate [the Hindu festival of] Ganesh Puja. It was awesome to have an outfit that is so important to Tamil culture in mainstream media [Ramakrishnan is Tamil Canadian]. It was a very grand sari that had been decked out to the nines. It made me feel really special, but it was also great that there was so much attention to detail on the show to get the accuracy of the outfit correct.

When I put it on for the first time, all the camera crew, lighting and sound were like: “You look awesome, you look kick-ass.” It was a nice moment, especially when that isn’t the experience for a lot of people, who don’t feel comfortable in their cultural clothing. It was a really great feeling – to get to show off your culture and have everyone around you appreciate it.

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Another outfit from Devi’s wardrobe that stands out for me is when she goes to school dressed – uncharacteristically – in high heels and a short skirt and her friend comments that she looks like “an Indian Kardashian”. I think, in that episode, she’s not necessarily trying to be seen as sexy, but she wants to be seen as pretty. She wants someone to say to her: “Wow, you’re really gorgeous, I wish I was like you.”

At middle school, when you’re at a very impressionable age and you’re figuring out what beauty means in society, what you see in the media really influences you. I think that is a reality for a lot of girls who are trying to figure out their style, but also trying to figure out how to be seen by others – it’s all about that validation. 


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