Wake-Up Call
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Wake-Up Call

From ‘Mean Girls’ to Artist: Rajiv Surendra Opens Up About New Creative Project

Surendra also opened up about a new lifestyle show that he’s working on with the creators of ‘Queer Eye’ and ‘Fixer-Upper.’

Courtesy of Getty

Canadian actor Rajiv Surendra doesn’t spend much time on film sets these days, especially given that coronavirus concerns have shut down or limited production in Hollywood. Amid the ongoing pandemic, Surendra has turned to a new passion project: letter writing.

In partnership with the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, the self-taught calligrapher has created tutorials on the lost art of hand-written correspondence. He also knows a thing or two about stationary — his current obsessions are G. Lalo Stationery and Tomoe River Paper.

“There’s nothing like opening up your mailbox and seeing an envelope with a handwritten address on it,” he told Wake-Up Call. “It just makes my heart sing.”

Surendra is best-known for his portrayal of Kevin Gnapoor, the beloved rapping mathlete in Tina Fey’s hit film, Mean Girls. Surendra had some thoughts on where his character is now.

“I think he’s doing charity work. I think he’s gone back to his ancestral roots in Sri Lanka, and he’s helping with the de-mining of the war zone in the North,” he said. “I think he realized his life needed some major purpose, and he’s finding himself.”

Since his breakout role, has written a memoir about his experience getting rejected for the lead role in the Academy Award-winning film Life of Pi, and become a successful artist in New York. He garnered attention as an artist after creating a mural for the Kips Bay Showhouse made entirely with chalk, which landed him on the front page of the New York Times style section. He describes expressing himself through chalk art as a “liberating” experience.

“There is a certain level of stress associated with sitting down and actually putting a medium onto paper or onto a wall that can’t be erased easily,” he said. “Whereas with chalk, you put down a line and if it’s incorrect, you wipe it off. You can throw all your inhibitions out the window.”

In addition to being an accomplished artist, Surendra is working to get a new lifestyle show off the ground. Though he said he couldn’t get into too many details, he did reveal that the project is in collaboration with the creators of Queer Eye and Fixer-Upper, so stay tuned.

“I’ll be metaphorically opening the door to my life, and allowing viewers to sit with me quietly and observe,” he said. “There’s so much noise out there. And I really feel that my generation is craving a bit of quiet.”

Reported by Producer Emily Pinto.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

This appeared in Katie Couric’s Wake-Up Call newsletter. Subscribe here.



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