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Balancing the office and the screen: Stanford’s own Ranjita Chakravarty shares her talents in “Never Have I Ever”

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When not assessing risks for the University as Stanford’s Internal Audit Department Director, Ranjita Chakravarty is performing on Netflix’s hit show “Never Have I Ever.” In the teen dramedy, Chakravarty plays the protagonist’s grandmother, Nirmala.

Comedians Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher who created “Never Have I Ever” first released the show in April 2020. The series reached 40 million households across the globe within the first four weeks of its season one debut. The show follows Devi Vishwakumar, a first-generation Indian-American teenager, as she endures the trauma induced by the passing of her father.

Chakravarty joined the cast of “Never Have I Ever” for the show’s second season. In October 2020, a friend told her about the show’s open call auditions. The actress was initially hesitant about auditioning for the series due to concerns about the logistics of flying to Los Angeles, but she later learned that auditions would take place virtually. Chakravarty decided to give it a shot. When she was later offered the role, Chakravarty had to balance her job at Stanford with filming for the show.

“It actually worked out pretty well,” Chakravarty said. “Because I’m not a main character, I was only shooting one to two days a week, so I took vacation on those days. The other days I was working from my hotel in L.A. So actually, my colleagues didn’t miss me at all.” 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Chakravarty performed her work with the internal audit department from her hotel room for five months, because the show’s crew did not want her to fly back and forth between Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Chief Audit Executive Henry Gusman said he was proud to see his colleague on the Netflix series. Having previously seen Chakravarty perform in a theater, Gusman said that he “saw a different side of her” on screen because she was performing for a global audience.

Rick Moyer, who is Stanford’s Senior Associate Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, as well Chakravarty’s colleague of fifteen years, shared a similar sentiment. Chakravarty looked very “natural” on screen, Moyer said. He knew of Chakravarty’s performance work but was particularly excited about the show’s large reach.

“It’s pretty cool that she got this opportunity to be in a Netflix TV program that is seen around the world,” Moyer said.

Chakravarty is no stranger to the stage and is active in the Bay Area theater scene. She has performed in upwards of twenty plays and more than ten films and television shows. She has also directed five productions. Chakravarty’s first experience as an actress took place in college, but she always knew she liked to act — she enjoys being someone else and telling stories.

Even with her extensive performing experience, Chakravarty said that working on “Never Have I Ever” was a “surreal experience” because she is usually involved with local projects.

“Everyone had worked together on season one, so I was the new person,” Chakravarty said of the Netflix series. “But I was so welcomed.”

The creativity Chakravarty brings to her acting also shines in her work with the Audit Department. “She likes to try different approaches to how we conduct an audit or how we report the results, and I see that in her more than any other member of my team,” Moyer said.

Gusman also praised Chakravarty’s positive energy and creativity. “Ranjita is kind of my person if I need someone to think outside of the box,” he said. 

Chakravarty has been with the University’s Internal Audit Department for 23 years. She is in charge of “planning, conducting and managing system audits and providing consulting services to various Information Systems departments.” She holds an MBA from Arizona State University, a master’s in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University in India and a bachelor’s in Political Science from Delhi University.

Chakravarty said that she is constantly looking to improve her acting and that each experience is a learning opportunity. One of Chakravarty’s future goals for her acting career is that she hopes to play a detective one day. More broadly, however, she wants to use her performing skills to bring more South Asian stories to the mainstream. 

“I like the story [of “Never Have I Ever”] because it talks about an Indian-American teenager who has the same exact issues as every other teenager, with the added pressure of having immigrant-type parents,” Chakravarty said.

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Rosana is an Arts & Life Contributing Writer and a News Staff Writer from La Puente, CA. She enjoys a good hike and is her dog’s biggest fan. The SoCal native misses playing the alto saxophone and looks forward to someday watching the Dodgers (in-person) win another World Series game. Contact her at rmaris 'at' stanforddaily.com.