*Major spoilers for Never Have I Ever season 2 below!*
The second season of Netflix's YA hit series Never Have I Ever is finally here, and along with the twists and turns of Devi's love triangle, comes a new character to make things a little more interesting. To Devi's surprise, another Indian girl named Aneesa, played by Megan Suri, transfers to Sherman Oaks High from a private school. While Devi feels threatened at first, Aneesa feels more comfortable with her as a fellow "brown girl." As rumors spread and events unfold, the girls eventually learn a thing or two from each other as the season progresses.
Seventeen exclusively talked with Never Have I Ever's newest star Megan Suri about bringing Aneesa's confidence to life and representing Indian teens in season 2.
17: What was it like being the new kid while joining the cast of Never Have I Ever?
Megan Suri: I don't really relate to Aneesa's effortlessly cool vibe. I definitely had to put in some effort, but really, I couldn't have asked for a better family to join. Everyone was so welcoming. Despite the COVID protocol measures and space of not feeling close [because of social distancing], they somehow just compensated for it. Overall, it was super fun.
17: From the beginning, Aneesa is such a strong and confident character. What drew you to Aneesa and what do you hope people take away from her story?
MS: I mean, Aneesa's whole thing is that she's so much more than a surface-level popular girl. She has a deeper story to tell, too. That's what drew me. Also, seeing — not even just girls, but if we're going to narrow it down and get more specific — cool, competent brown girls in the spotlight is something we rarely ever [experience]. So to get the honor to portray that, and a brown Muslim girl at that, I was just like "I'm so in, thank you for thinking that I was the one to be that person." I just hope that people take away the classic rule, which is to not judge a book by its cover — there's always something deeper underneath the surface. And just to be kind, kindness is always solid.
17: What I love about this show is how these characters are portrayed as more than their heritage. How does it feel to represent Indian teens as human rather than a stereotype?
MS: That's what's super dope about Never Have I Ever, and also just not feeling like you're a token character. I know that a lot of brown girls will be able to relate to that, too. The really cool thing about Anessa and Devi is that yes, the show is centered around Indian-American teenagers, but it doesn't revolve around the fact that they're Indian. It's just the fact that we're teenagers and we happen to be brown. That's why I think some people can resonate with these characters because it's not just secular to them being brown — it's just us being American teenagers.
17: At first, the relationship dynamic between Aneesa and Devi is painted as a rivalry rather than a friendship between two teens trying to figure themselves out. How challenging was it for you to adapt to that situation as an actor?
MS: The writing on this show is so good that as an actor, I think it's one of the most useful things because you don't really have to put as much work in. The writing speaks for itself and it's easy to access those emotions and feelings, especially toward those really emotional scenes. Of course, I did my own research revolving around Aneesa's anorexia and that whole background. But I really feel like when I was in the moment with these incredible actors, you just feel so in it that it doesn't require a lot of manual labor to kind of generate those organic emotions.
Catch Megan as Aneesa on Season 2 of Never Have I Ever, which is now available to stream on Netflix with subscriptions starting at $8.99 per month.
Parts of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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