As far as Netflix comedies are concerned, “Never Have I Ever” and “Atypical” are essentials to any watchlist. But before you binge the latest seasons, check out the full conversation between resident “Asian best friends,” Ramona Young and Nik Dodani.
Young currently stars in “Never Have I Ever” as Eleanor Wong, one of Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s on-screen best friends who has a passion for acting and dramatics. She was previously featured alongside Drew Berrymore and Timothy Olyphant in Netflix’s “Santa Clarita Diet” and also starred in The CW’s “Legends of Tomorrow” as Mona Wu, a delivery girl-turned-superhero who can transform into a beast-like creature.
Dodani, on the other hand, recently wrapped the final season of Netflix’s “Atypical” where he played Zahid Raja, a “dweeby and foul-mouthed lothario.” He previously starred in CBS’ 2018 revival of “Murphy Brown” as Pat Patel, the resident social media expert on a morning talk show. He is also set to appear in the upcoming “Dear Evan Hansen” movie, a screen adaptation of the hit Tony Award-winning musical.
As the two sat down, they congratulated one another on their recent successes. “Never Have I Ever” had just released its second season after a critically acclaimed debut, while “Atypical” aired its fourth and final season, marking the “end of an era.” Both sitcoms are groundbreaking in their own right, presenting representations of South Asians and people on the autism spectrum in ways that mainstream media had never before.
“The autism community has really engaged with the show in a really cool way … the show means a lot to a lot of people and I always want to make sure I’m doing right by them,” Dodani said, grateful for the fans that have voiced their support over the years. “I feel like playing Zahid has made me a kinder, more empathetic human.”
Young praised the diversity on- and off-screen on her show. “I feel like I just hit the jackpot,” she expressed after describing her previous experiences where she was one of the only people of color on set. “All of the directors and writers and people behind [the] camera are so diverse. And I think that’s what makes the show work.”
Acknowledging the change in representation in Hollywood, they both also discussed the difficulty of finding a mentor in the industry. “Let’s be real, we’re kind of paving our own road here. It’s hard to find someone who relates to us 100%,” Young shared. “In [Mindy Kaling’s] audiobook, she basically said ‘find your mentors wherever you can, even if they don’t know that they’re your mentor.’”
Dodani loved the suggestion and opened up about how he started The Salon, a forum for South Asian creatives and executives in entertainment, and its mentorship program which has featured Kaling and Hasan Minhaj as guest speakers, because he felt there was no one he could turn to for advice. “Like I’m interviewing these people as if it’s for the mentees benefit … but I’m taking notes and learning so much,” he joked.
Young and Dodani go on to talk about their dream roles, their future projects and more in the full conversation above!