When Netflix’s hit teen comedy Never Have I Ever returned for season 2 earlier this summer, new kid on the block Aneesa (Megan Suri) was ready to challenge Devi’s (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) nebulous social foothold inside the walls of Sherman Oaks High School. A new, effortlessly cool Indian-American student, Aneesa threatened to make Devi even more of an outcast than she already was, and her mere presence unlocked Devi’s insecurities tenfold. But what Devi didn’t know was that Aneesa was battling demons of her own—rumors that were unexpectedly unleashed as gossip.
22-year-old Megan joined the cast of Never Have I Ever as the affable and charming Aneesa, whose eating disorder becomes the central focus of the school’s attention due to the loose lips of her so-called friend Devi. Megan, whose face you may recognize from guest-star turns on shows like Fresh Off the Boat and Atypical, wasn’t aware of Aneesa’s powerful storyline prior to arriving for a fitting, but she felt a responsibility in portraying a character with so many complexities.
Megan spoke with Teen Vogue about embracing Aneesa’s confidence, joining the cast of the Netflix juggernaut, and moving the needle forward for brown representation.
Teen Vogue: What was your favorite part about being in Never Have I Ever? Were you a fan of season 1?
Megan Suri: I will answer the second one first since it’s easier for me: I was definitely a fan of the first season, so getting to actually watch that during quarantine and then a few months down the road meeting [the cast and crew] face-to-face was very surreal in a crazy way, just because of the nature of the pandemic. My favorite part of filming Never Have I Ever aside from working with this incredible ensemble cast and crew, was getting to play such a complex character for the first time in my career. It was very fulfilling as an actor but also as a person, realizing that you have a bigger responsibility and a bigger platform…and doing something bigger than myself.
TV: How did you get started in acting? What was your family’s reaction to it?
MS: I performed in my third grade talent show. I actually danced though, and I danced to a Bollywood song. My dad watched and the next day, without consulting me, he told me that he signed me up to audition for acting school. Then within a year, I got into the school luckily and I booked my first real job and that was it! My family is super supportive…I think that as I’ve gotten to grow up in this industry and meet people in this industry, it’s become a lot more apparent to me just how lucky I am to have such a solid, grounded support system because that’s not the case for everyone. And I think when you’re growing up in that bubble, it’s really easy to think that this is how the world is and when you’re taken out of it and you get real with life, sometimes it takes that to really appreciate what you do have.
TV: What was the casting process like?
MS: Because of the pandemic, everything is by self-tape. So I taped once and I sent it in, and…after not hearing anything, I just sort of assumed, like, “Okay, I don’t know, I thought it was a pretty good tape, I hope that I get at least a callback!” A week and a half later, I got a call from my team and they said the producers had approved of me and they were just finalizing some details. And then I got it!