Hosted by Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Anjula Acharia, the South Asian Excellence Pre-Oscars Celebration on Thursday on the Paramount Studio lot invited South Asian industry changemakers and honored Oscar nominees of South Asian descent.
As co-host, Chopra Jonas introduced the event by acknowledging that South Asian representation in Hollywood and at the Oscars has “been quite an arduous journey.” She said it would not have been possible without the South Asians who have “fought the stereotypes to ensure that our stories were not just a cliche, those of us who fought for actors to have bigger leading roles. Those of you who fought for stories of South Asian descent to be a norm, to not be an exception, but to be normal.”
Chopra Jonas then shouted out, one of the co-hosts, Mindy Kaling, for her decades of developing their stories with South Asian women at the forefront, including the Netflix series starring Jagannathan and Suri.
“Never Have I Ever” stars Poorna Jagannathan and Megan Suri, who appeared at the event divulged what fans can expect from the fourth and final season of the hit Netflix series.
Jagannathan told Variety, that “Never Have I Ever” fans, who watched Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) embark on the wild rollercoaster, can rest assured that the characters are “where they’re supposed to be and you’re happy for them.”
“Never Have I Ever” follows as impulsive teen Devi Vishwakumar and her mother, Nalini (Jagannathan), navigate Devi’s adolescence alongside their joint grief over the death of Devi’s father, Mohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy). While the mother and daughter adapt to their new family dynamic, Devi balances her schoolwork, friendships and the ongoing pursuit of scoring a boyfriend.
While the final season might provide audiences with some closure, Jagannathan said throughout filming the final season she “was devastated to say goodbye,” because of the show’s ability to create “a sense of belonging” for both her character and the audience.
Jagannathan explains that while her character was “obviously” a huge part of her identity as an actor, her character contributed, alongside the newly minted pre-oscars celebration, to the growth of South Asian representation. More specifically the series and her character proved the importance and necessity of “taking of space and having a sense of belonging.”
“Considering the fact that I’ve been in this industry for over 10 years — 10 years ago this would have never been on my radar or something I could’ve fathomed,” said the 23-year-old Suri. “So the fact that this is actually happening and we’re taking a moment to celebrate this community is so special and I feel beyond honored … I’m so grateful.”
From Suri’s point of view while it’s been “bittersweet” wrapping the show, “it couldn’t be better timing.” Even if fans aren’t ready to say goodbye just yet, Suri explained that “it’s time for it to come to an end.”
In addition to hosting South Asian film and TV professionals, the celebration honored the community’s Oscar nominees, including documentary “All That Breathes”; song and score from “Everything Everywhere All at Once”; song “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR“; documentary shorts “Elephant Whisperers” and “Stranger at the Gate”; and shortlisted international feature “Joyland.”
The Academy Awards will take place March 12 at the Dolby Theatre.