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Never Have I Ever stars Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Lee Rodriguez, and Ramona Young are used to hanging out on Zoom calls. Not just because like the rest of us, they've been stuck in quarantine for months. But because when one of your BFFs lives in an entirely different country (what’s up, Canada!), it's the easiest way to keep up with each other. Which is why when I log on to Zoom to talk to the co-stars about the upcoming second season of their hit Netflix show, it feels like I’m crashing one of their virtual hangs.

Their comebacks and inside jokes come quick. Just like their characters, they aren't afraid to call each other out, or defend themselves when one of them starts to troll another in the middle of a story. But best of all, they are always there to hype one another up.

While they consider themselves more like the characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy or Sailor Moon, they're actually a lot more like their own Never Have I Ever characters than they think. Maitreyi is typically the first to answer (just like her character Devi), and Ramona, who plays Eleanor, will jump in to add an interesting question or detail. Then Lee, in true Fabiola style, drops a line or two that will either make you think or burst into laughter. And just like Devi, Eleanor, and Fabiola, not everything goes exactly right for these IRL friends.

never have i ever

As soon as we all hop on for our call, Ramona announces that Lee, who is also her roommate, is having technical difficulties. While we wait for her to appear on-screen, Maitreyi compliments Lee on her profile picture, like any BFF would. Eventually, the technical difficulties are resolved and they’re all on-screen together again, laughing and chatting without skipping a beat. I feel like I’m sitting with them at the school lunch table, not interviewing the NHIE stars for a magazine cover story.

Over the course of our hour-long chat, the trio spills all of their secrets like it’s a sleepover. As Maitreyi puts it best, "None of us have shame," and truly, nothing is off-limits. From their best on-set antics to what happened during a very intense game of Among Us, and, of course, Never Have I Ever season 2, the co-stars share it all. This is Maiteryi, Lee, and Ramona, mostly unfiltered, dishing about who they are, who they've become over the past year, and what it takes to be a part of this group of best friends. (Spoiler alert: It involves a lot of TikToks.)

17: How was it releasing Never Have I Ever in quarantine, during a global pandemic?

Ramona Young: Our premiere was virtual. We focused on staying safe during the pandemic. That was our priority.

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan: It was sort of weird having it come out in quarantine. I remember it was like April 27, and I'm waiting for the clock to tick down. I don't know what the hell I expected — like fireworks or something? It was just like any other day when the clock changes to a new day. And I was like, 'Oh, okay. Alright, that's that.' It was like peak panini.

RY: Panini?

Lee Rodriguez: A panoramic.

MR: A panorama.

RY: I'm lost.

LR: It's what people call the pandemic.

MR: Yeah, we're trying to be cool, bro. This is Seventeen.

never have i ever
Nolwen Cifuentes / Netflix

On Ramona: Pamela Love Ring. On Maitreyi: Lady Grey Ring. On Lee: Lady Grey Ring.

17: The show became an instant hit overnight. How did that feel?

LR: It was pretty crazy. I thought it was kind of crazy to see our faces on a billboard. I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty tripped out by that. I was like, 'Those are my freaking friends.'

MR: I still don't think we're on a billboard. I haven't seen it in person. I don't think it exists.

RY: It doesn't feel real because you're experiencing it by yourself and no one else is around you. So you're like in your own universe.

17: So, did the show's release feel a little anti-climatic, or was it just a different experience?

MR: It was still exciting — especially seeing people making fan edits and fan art. I remember the first time I saw a fan art and I think it was of the three of us. I was like, 'That's so nifty.' It just all became very surreal, because it was all on the internet. The views are on Netflix, the following counts on social media, likes on the photos, all of that. It's just all on your phone and not in person, so it doesn't feel like real life.

LR: The group chat was definitely blowing up.

MR: Yeah, but with like memes, bro. It was stupid dumb shenanigans like usual. Not like, out of the ordinary.

LR: No, we were also hyped. It was crazy. In real life, you're in quarantine and not really doing much. But on social media, it was blowing up, and it was pretty cool.

17: How did this incredible friendship that you all have start?

LR: It all started in Devi's bedroom. We were doing the kegel scene and that's when it formulated.

MR: That was like level one unlocked.

LR: The first scene we did was pretty fun. I didn't know what was going on, and I didn't even know where to like go on 'action.' But we figured it out and we had a good time.

MR: I don't think I can say one of our solidifying moments, but I'm going to say it anyway. Ramona, do you remember this?

RY: I know exactly what you're talking about. It's the sleepover!

MR: So basically, I don't remember what Lee or Ramona did. They just did something really dumb.

RY: No, it was not me! It was Lee!

LR: What are we talking about?!

MR: Oh! Lee did something really stupid. And that's the thing: it doesn't matter what she did. Just know it was dumb. And me, without any single hesitation, just turned and was like 'you dumb b*tch.' And that's what we call it — when you reach dumb b*tch level of friendship. We're not dumb, we're just dumb b*tches together. That was a moment. I genuinely don't know what Lee did. But it really warranted it, and it felt like back in Canada hanging out with my homies.

RY: I think it had to do with her trying to open the door, but she didn't know how to open the door to enter the scene. And we were all waiting behind her. I think that was it.

LR: Now we have moments where we're just like, 'I'm being a dumb b*tch.'

never have i ever
Nolwen Cifuentes / Netflix

On Maitreyi: Lady Grey Ring.

17: You went from being on set together all the time to being apart during the pandemic. How did you stay in touch?

MR: It really comes down to the group chat and FaceTime. It actually sort of hit me that the first time we all got to see each other as a cast entirely after filming season 1 was when we were ready to start filming season 2, which is pretty trippy. FaceTime was definitely a scheduling nightmare sometimes. You know, time zones.

RY: We also did one night with the whole cast where we all played Among Us together. That was really intense.

MR: Oh, yeah, I had to teach them Among Us. It was really fun.

17: And no one recorded that for the world to see?!

MR: One day!

LR: It was a lot!

RY: Maitreyi is a pathological liar. She's very good.

MR: I played to win, bro. I'm not a pathological liar. Don't get it twisted. I'm a winner. If being a winner makes me a pathological liar, then I'm the biggest liar-er.

RY: She does what it takes to win.

LR: I don't know. I'm pretty bad, but it was fun. I had a great time. We should totally play again.

17: What's everyone's role in the group?

MR: We've talked about this before. We compare ourselves to like all sorts of trios. Whether it's the Powerpuff Girls or Sailor Moon characters. We do a lot of BuzzFeed quizzes on set.

preview for Never Have I Ever | Besties on Besties

On Ramona: Lady Grey Earrings and Pamela Love Necklace. On Maitreyi: Lady Grey Ring. On Lee: Lady Grey Ring.

17: Which one is the most accurate?

RY: Sailor Moon was pretty accurate and then we went out and got costumes after that to make a Tiktok, because we were like, 'Oh my God, we are these characters.' And funny story, in the middle of filming it, Maitreyi thought she saw a snake.

MR: Don't put this on me. It wasn't what I saw. It was an auditory thing.

RY: And then we all jumped and freaked out. And we realized it was a watering hose on the ground.

MR: It's important to mention that we were filming this TikTok outside at three to four AM. And the only noise you hear is water, but it sounded like a creature and we all just froze.

RY: And Maitreyi jumped in front of us and just pushed me and Lee back, like defending us against water hose.

MR: My bad, bro! Dude, dude. What if it was something for real? We compare ourselves to all sorts of trios, but we also have our comparisons to the Guardians of the Galaxy. Ramona is typecast as Rocket. Lee is 100 percent Groot. And then Darren is Drax and Jared is Star Lord.

RY: No tests needed. Halloween 2021!

17: Are you announcing your Halloween costumes?

MR: You can't, because I don't know if the guys will even be bothered to commit. Like our Scooby-Doo costumes — clearly, the women put more effort. Yeah, maybe don't announce that. Yeah, maybe like don't announce that because we can't do that.

LR: We went all out for our Halloween costumes. The boys, they got to step it up. They got to step it up.

never have i ever
Nolwen Cifuentes / Netflix

On Lee: Lady Grey Ring.

17: Did you start doing TikToks together because of the show?

LR: We just like dancing. We actually have more TikTok dances that we made on set that will be funny to share.

RY: We just can't share it yet because we're in costume and don't want to give anything away. But we have more coming.

MR: Lee is usually coming up to me with her phone playing a random song and I'm very confused as to what's going on, especially if I don't know the audio.

RY: And then the dances are between Maitreyi and Lee.

LR: We just do TikTok dances between takes.

MR: And then everyone watches us. But we like know that they're just jealous. They want to be a part of it. They're just lying to themselves.

The videos I have on my phone aren't ones that I'm in. It's me leaving my phone on my chair while I'm filming something, and then the rest of the cast just films things with my phone. And they leave drafts, so that's really up to them. If they want me to post it, I They also don't have shame. None of us have shame, so you might see them.

17: You almost have to be shameless in order to be a comedian, especially working with the stuff you get from co-creators Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher. How is it working with them?

RY: I think it's amazing. It's so much fun. I can't tell you how many times I'll hear a quick joke thrown at me by one of the writers or Mindy or Lang, and I can't say it with a straight face while having to finish the scene. It's hard, but it's fun.

MR: I’m 100% with Ramona on that. It's crazy how they come up with new lines on the spot that are hilarious. But with comedy, and I can safely say this for the three of us because I see them do their awesome job as actresses, you just have to really go for it. The writers, the crew, the fellow cast members, they make it a fun environment. It's just like, 'Yeah, try it out.' Whatever works, works. If it doesn't, who cares? We'll try something new. You cannot be afraid to fail and of messing up, flubbing a line, and all that.

LR: Yeah, they're really supportive and they deal with our goofing off. And so we appreciate them and appreciate their support.

RY: We goof off so much, like, right up until the call 'action.' Doing a scene with Maitreyi and Lee is literally like going to recess at school or lunch and just goofing off. That's what it feels like.

17: The friendship portrayed in this series is nice because your characters aren’t competing or fighting against each other over a guy. Does it feel groundbreaking in a way?

MR: One of my favorite parts of Never Have I Ever, in my opinion, and an important aspect of what makes the show great and why people love it so much, is the friendship between these three girls. It’s the story of these three girls that have been friends since kindergarten. They obviously aren't peaches and cream all the time, like Devi's a mess, but Fabiola and Eleanor are still there for her. They're not backstabbing each other for a guy. They sometimes cannot be there for each other like Devi wasn't in season 1, but they still come together in the end, which I think is amazing.

In a lot of TV shows and film, we don't depict female friendships in that positive of light, especially young and healthy female friendships. I think that is something that I'm very proud that we showcase. I think about my little cousin watching the show and I'm like, 'Yes! Female friendships. Look at that!'

RY: I think it's special and it does happen in real life, but it's not shown enough in media because everyone's just obsessed with drama. However, there is drama outside of just girls fighting each other. I like seeing that we get to support each other because I think that's underrepresented.

LR: Just them hanging out in Devi's room or when they're plotting to do something — they're always just having a good time and looking out for each other, which is important to showcase.

17: The show is also inclusive and important for on-screen representation. Not only does it star three women of color, but it doesn't make that side of themselves the biggest part of their identity.

MR: It sucks that this is still like a shocking thing in Hollywood. Never Have I Ever definitely is trying to change it up and to just have realistic representation rather than tokenism. But, at the end of the day, it's still only one show. I'm very grateful that there is this diversity with these three girls as the main friends. I think that resonates with a lot of people. This is what my friend group looks like at school. This is how I grew up.

RY: I'm so obsessed with their dynamic. The more I see it, the more I want to see it in different shows and in upcoming stories that are being told. I think it's so cool and accurate for once.

LR: It's important to have that representation and I'm glad to be able to be a part of the show that celebrates that.

MR: Devi is the main character and Fabiola and Eleanor are her best friends, but they both have their own proper arcs that they going through as individuals. They're not just playing the subservient side character to Devi that is of color. They just happened to be of color and it's like, 'Okay, cool.' It's not their main personality trait, which I think is pretty dope.

RY: I love that our race isn't our personality. We're human beings first, and that's clearly how it is in real life.

never have i ever

On Ramona: Pamela Love Ring.

17: Have you received any messages from fans on what this kind of representation means to them?

LR: I actually got a lot of messages about how Fabiola coming out inspired them to come out. So I got those DMs and I was really moved that my character did that for a lot of young people watching. That really meant a lot to me.

RY: Something that I received via DMs is, 'Oh my gosh, you're my new doppelgänger,' and stuff like that. That makes me really happy because I've never had a doppelgänger.

MR: I totally like, feel you, Ramona. You don't feel like you look like any character on TV and that sucks. As a kid and as a present-day 19-year-old who loves Halloween, trying to find a character that's South Asian is just like out of the question unless you want to settle for Jasmine. It was actually epic to see people be the trio. You guys remember that? There was actually a group of girls who dressed up as Fabiola, Eleanor and Devi and that's pretty dope. That's pretty fire.

RY: There are websites where they suggest Halloween costumes and we were on there.

MR: We were?! That's epic!

17: Who was the person who made you feel seen in Hollywood for the first time?

MR: I guess my representation was Mindy. Here is this Tamil woman and I've watched The Office like 15 times. God bless Canada for not getting rid of it on Netflix. I would be a mess. But that's not the point of this conversation. Between that and The Mindy Project, it was awesome to see somebody who's Tamil on-screen. But, at the same time, there's that disconnect because she's an adult and I was a kid. I couldn't relate necessarily to every single thing Mindy Lahiri was saying. It was still cool to see my face. Personality-wise, I've always had to find myself within white characters. So as a kid I always looked up to Hermione Granger.

RY: Someone that really made me feel seen was Jackie Chan. We're both from Hong Kong and I'm not aware of any other actors from there that's made it as far as he has in Hollywood. I would always watch his movies with my family as a kid because they were awesome.

LR: Same as Maitreyi. Personality-wise, I kind of had to look to white characters to see myself. Okay, this is gonna sound [weird], but it's the truth.

MR: Okay, speak your truth.

LR: It was, okay...Hannah Montana.

RY: Oh my god.

MR: Dude, how?!

LR: I wanted to live the best of both worlds, okay? I wanted to be a rock star by night and just a regular girl by day. And Hannah Montana was my inspiration.

RY: Get out of here!

LR: But I also love Anne Hathaway. In terms of acting, she's my pick.

RY: Nope, too late.

MR: Seventeen is not allowed to put Anne Hathaway. They will only put Hannah Montana.

LR: I would literally have concerts in my bedroom. Just line up my stuff animals and I would sing to them.

RY: Lee, you are exposing yourself.

MR: No shame! That's why Lee Rodriguez is the amazingly talented singer that she is today.

never have i ever
Nolwen Cifuentes / Netflix

On Ramona: Pamela Love Ring.

17:What's something that you've learned from your NHIE characters in season 2?

MR: Season 1 Devi is going through grief and all that. I always thought, in that situation when I was doing season 1, that I was in like a sweet spot of knowing how to be Devi. I wasn't necessarily learning much from her. But this season, I think Devi really taught me that it's okay to be an emotional mess. It's okay to not be perfect. That's one of the biggest ways I am like Devi. I'm always trying to make sure everyone is happy with me, and I don't want to mess things up with people. She realizes this season that, 'Nah, you can't.' I think her arc in season 2 definitely hit home with me.

RY: I think something that I learned through Eleanor is self-love. She has broken family relationships. And, even though she comes across confident, it makes her really insecure in some ways. And so through seasons 1 and 2, I kind of see her growing in ways where she's learning how to love herself and to hold on to relationships that are healthy and good for her while letting go of those that aren't.

MR: That's wholesome.

RY: Thanks, man!

LR: For Fabiola, what I learned from her is that it's okay to kind of still be figuring out who you are, and sometimes just who you are already is good enough. You don't have to change. You don't have to be anyone other than who you are.

17: Devi has John McEnroe as her narrator. Who do you think would make the perfect voiceovers for Fabiola and Eleanor?

LR: Oh, I know for Fabiola! Neil deGrasse Tyson! And I think for Eleanor it was somebody who was like on Broadway right? Or Awkwafina?

RY: Yeah, Awkwafina is a good one. Or Ali Wong.

MR: Yeah, Ali Wong would kill it.

LR: What about Randall Park?

RY: Yes!

MR: That would be trippy because his wife plays Eleanor's mom!

17: Megan Suri is joining the cast as Aneesa. We know she'll be a frenemy to Devi, but how will she feed into the dynamic of the trio?

MR: Uh oh, I have to watch my words now. I would say that she definitely comes in and does pose that rivalry with Devi that's, of course, more one-sided. Aneesa literally just wants to live and just have friends. Personally, for me, what I think is really cool is that she's another dark-skinned South Asian girl on the show. I think that the friendship between Devi and her is really awesome to see.

It's like, whoa, you already know Devi, but here's another South Asian girl with a whole different personality. Who would have thought there could be two? I think that's pretty epic. She has her own personality that’s very different from Eleanor, Fabiola, and Devi.

17: We've all seen the board in Devi's room. So we have to ask: Team Paxton or Team Ben?

MR: We all know my answer is Team Devi.

RY + LR: Yeah, Team Devi!

MR: See! Look at that! Supportive friends!

17: How would you describe season 2 in three words?

RY: Okay, okay! Word one is: juicy.

LR: No! I was gonna say juicy!

MR: Why? That's such a weird word.

RY: Word two is: moist.

MR: Stop! I knew you were gonna say moist! I swear on our friendship! My brain literally said, 'Dude, this girl is gonna say moist.'

RY: Oh no! Word three! Now I can't say it 'cause I feel like Maitreyi is thinking of a word and expecting me to say it. Okay, word three I'll say ... thirsty.

MR: That's not at all this season. So Ramona was actually filming a different show. She was on some HBO R-rated show.

LR: Love triangle.

MR + RY: That's two words.

LR: Friendship love triangles!

MR: Because we love each other in the UN! Also, this why we have Netflix to make those little genres. Because if we did it, you would just see 'moist show.'

17: What's already on your wish list for season 3?

MR: We get renewed for season 3 — that's the first wish. Wish number two... I mean, I can say this now because it's not a spoiler because we did a table read. I'd love to see the kids grow up a year. I feel like I'm really trying to play catch up to stay young and look young. That'd be great. Do you guys second that motion?

LR: I for sure do!

RY: I want to do a Halloween episode!

LR: That's our holiday! We just want to dress up. That's the real reason.

MR: But we literally wear costumes every day at work.

RY: But more costumes!

17: Anything else you want our readers to know before watching season 2?

MR: Watch out for Lee's upcoming role as the new Hannah Montana!

LR: Don't do me like that.

MR: But I did!

LR: 'You get the limo out front (oh-whoa)!' Did you never watch Hannah Montana?

MR: Dude, I was too poor for the Disney Channel. You know this. At school, the kids would talk about Suite Life on Deck. Do you know how long it took me to understand that Zack and Cody are twins? That they're brothers? I had to like fake my knowledge on the playground, guys.

RY: Oh and watch season 2 so you can watch these dumb b*tches!

MR: Yeah, season 2 is better than season 1. No season 2 slump!

LR: 'You get the limo out front (oh-whoa) / Hottest styles, every shoe, every color.'

MR: And now we end the interview with Lee singing!

Photographer: Nolwen Cifuentes/Netflix, Fashion Director: Cassie Anderson, Fashion Styling, Hair and Makeup for Maitreyi Ramakrishnan: Joseph Cassell/Forward Artists (Fashion Stylist), Rick Caroto (Hair) and Vivian Maxwell (Makeup), Fashion Styling, Hair and Makeup for Ramona Young and Lee Rodriguez: Amanda Lim/The Only Agency (Fashion Stylist), Stacey Bisel (Hair) and Terrell Mullin (Makeup), Editor-in-Chief: Kristin Koch, Deputy Editor: Danielle Tullo, Chief Visual Content Director: Alix Campbell, Visual Editor: Marina Schoger, Supervising Video Producer: Rachel Lieberman, Video DP: Nick Marshall, Digital Cover DP: Erick Turcios, Video Editor: Deanna Govea, Motion Graphics: Kelsey Fink, Graphic Designer: Courtney Chavez, Senior Entertainment Manager: Emily Hausman

Headshot of Tamara Fuentes
Tamara Fuentes
Entertainment Editor

Tamara Fuentes is the current Entertainment Editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers TV, movies, books, celebrities, and more. She can often be found in front of a screen fangirling about something new. Before joining Cosmopolitan, she was the entertainment editor over at Seventeen. She is also a member of the Television Critics Association and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram