“Maybe we should have gone to Gerrard Street and got corn,” says Maitreyi Ramakrishnan. “I love that shit.”
The Never Have I Ever star is reminiscing about going with her family as a child to the Indian Bazaar in Toronto on Gerrard East and grabbing spicy corn on the cob from the local vendors. And now she’s wondering whether it belongs in her round up of Toronto and Mississauga locations that made an impact on her life.
Ramakrishnan is the Tamil-Canadian actor, born and raised in Mississauga, chosen from an open casting call that lured 15,000 submissions to star in the Netflix comedy series. She plays hot-tempered teen Devi Vishwakumar in the high school set coming-of-age series executive produced by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher. Ramakrishnan, who appeared on NOW’s Best Of TV cover last year, is already gearing up to shoot a third season along with her first feature film role as Lizzie Bennet in a modern day update of Pride And Prejudice. Expect a lot more to come from the spritely and talented actor and Plan International Canada ambassador.
Ramakrishnan discussed those projects and how she’s grappling with fame in an upcoming interview (look out for that), while giving us a tour to those Toronto and Mississauga spots that mean something to her, which you can see in the video below. There’s St. Lawrence Market, the first place she hung out at on her own for the first time, Nathan Philips Square, where she enjoyed her first concert, the Art Gallery of Ontario, where she grew up exposed to the culture, and Kensington Market, where she simply loves the food.
We’re in my car now, leaving Toronto for Mississauga, where we’re going to grab a bite at Owl Of Minerva on Central Parkway, a regular late-night spot for Ramakrishnan and her family. Ramakrishnan, a new driver herself, is riding shotgun, regularly criticizing my skills behind the wheel in between a discussion of how we experience this city.
She knows downtown as the place her parents worked most of her life and where all the fun stuff would happen when she visits, mostly at night, as the city lights make it seem even cooler. She would also frequent the other burbs, like Markham, Caledon and Brampton, which she points out, is known as Flower City. I never actually knew this. “Their logo is a tulip!”
Ramakrishnan also hasn’t had too much exposure to the city’s racial divisions, where the multiculturalism seems to live in the burbs and the closer you get to the core, the whiter it gets. She grew up in a neighbourhood where no one race is dominant.
“We all know the stereotypes,” says Ramakrishnan, citing expressions like “Brampton is brown town” and more. “For me, Brampton is seeing my cousins. But I’m more about the food. Markham is my bubble tea hookup. It’s also where Pacific Mall is, which I thought was the coolest place ever for all my anime merch.”
She’s not too familiar with Scarborough beyond what she would see on Tamil TV station TVI, where ads would direct you to Markham and Lawrence. “I don’t even know where that is.”
Ramakrishnan’s perception of the city has also shifted a bit following her recent trips to Los Angeles, shooting two seasons of the Netflix comedy Never Have I Ever. After spending time there, she’s been able to really appreciate how diverse Toronto really is. “When I’m in my community, I see people from all kinds of backgrounds,” says Ramakrishnan. “And then I go somewhere where I don’t see that. You think, whoa, what’s missing here.”
Read more from our interview with Ramakrishnan here and watch our tour through Toronto and Mississauga below.