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Never Trump

‘Never Trump’ Republicans team with progressives to convert the president’s religious base – POLITICO

“If there was ever a time when Republicans, especially people of faith can be moved, it’s probably now,” said Sarah Lenti, executive director at the Lincoln Project, which was co-founded by George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. “This is about doing the right thing for our country and that goes back to embracing Biblical principles, such as loving and caring for each other.”

Getting white evangelicals to peel away from Trump — much less to vote for Biden — is no easy feat. The political alliance between white evangelicals and Republican politicians dates back decades and has rarely shown signs of weakness during the president’s first term. Before this spring, the only time Trump’s most prominent conservative Christian supporters had publicly split with the president was over his push to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

But recently, segments of Trump’s Catholic and Protestant supporters have been distancing themselves from his response to the Covid-19 crisis. The Lincoln Project and VCG hope to capitalize on that waning confidence, which has extended to Trump’s ability to handle the worsening economic crisis, public health catastrophe and civil unrest.

They’re also hoping to pitch Biden as an attractive religious alternative to Trump. Biden, a Catholic, has portrayed himself as the unity candidate in an intensely fractured political landscape and rarely shies away from discussing his personal faith.

“For some people this will be a two-step process,” said Doug Pagitt, a progressive evangelical pastor who founded VCG. “The first part is letting go of the reflexive impulse they have to vote Republican, which is a hard thing to let go of. And then for some of those people, stepping all the way over to Biden is a big step.”

Pagitt launched VCG after the 2016 election to reach religious conservatives and other traditional faith voters, hoping to break the Republican strong-hold on the community. Now, Pagitt said, VCG and the Lincoln Project “want to make an offer” to lifelong Republican voters that encourages them to support Biden based on arguments that draw on their values and Christian identity.

“I respect the fact that many people feel they’ve been conservatives or Republicans their whole lives and to push them to vote for Biden, that’s like pushing them to abandon their identity. We don’t want to do that,” he said. “But for them to hear from the Lincoln Project, which is a bunch of Republicans saying they are going to vote for Joe Biden because of their faith, that can be powerful and convincing.”

Part of VCG’s plan is to forge personal connections with religious conservatives in crucial 2020 swing states. Soon they will launch a postcard campaign sending handwritten notes to religious voters asking them to lean deep into their faith for guidance this November. Though the postcards, which Pagitt described to POLITICO, will vary in style — one will include VCG’s sogan, “Faith, not fear. Hope, not hate. Love, not lies,” the other will feature the “love is patient, love is kind” passage from 1 Corinthians 13 — each will contain a personal note from another voter.

“It’s not a slick mailer, it’s a handwritten card saying, ‘Hey, I’m Doug from Minneapolis. I hope your faith is meaningful to you,’” Pagitt said.

The mailers are just one part of the duo’s targeted campaign. On Wednesday, the groups will host a virtual town hall with Pagitt, Lincoln Project co-founder and GOP strategist Rick Wilson, evangelical minister Rob Schenck, whose support for Biden marks the first time he’s supported a Democratic presidential contender since 1976, Society of Christian Ethics president David Gushee and journalist Amy Sullivan. They are also planning an onslaught of digital, radio and television ads aimed at “gettable” Republican voters, according to Lenti.

“If someone is a single-issue voter on abortion and they still think Republicans are better than Democrats on the issue, that’s probably not someone we’re going to get,” Pagitt said.

Ultimately, the two groups hope to move 4 to 5 percent of disaffected Republican voters in the six states they’re planning to target before Election Day. Since 2018, VCG has focused its efforts on identifying 50,000 persuadable voters in key swing states and working to convince them to vote against Trump.

According to Lenti, the Lincoln Project is also eyeing Texas and Iowa as two emerging battlegrounds that it could include in its efforts. Trump, who carried both states in 2016, has recently slipped in statewide polling against Biden, who began advertising in Texas in mid-July.

Recent polls on religious voters’ attitudes toward Trump show minor slippage in his support among white evangelicals, 81 percent of whom voted for him in 2016, and steady erosion to his appeal among white Catholics.

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in June showed 72 percent of white evangelicals approved of Trump’s job as president, down five percentage points since January. Meanwhile, 75 percent said Biden would make a “poor” or “terrible” commander in chief. The same survey, however, found that 82 percent of white evangelicals plan to vote for Trump, meaning 10 percent of those who said they disapprove of Trump’s job performance still intend to cast their ballots for his reelection.

The Lincoln Project and VCG hope to change that in the three months remaining between now and Nov. 3, in addition to courting other key constituencies, such as veterans and seniors, whom polling suggests could be wary of handing Trump a second term.

“We basically want to flood the zone with information,” Lenti said. “Evangelicals and people of faith are just people, and so a lot of our ads are going to touch all people, not one particular constituency.”

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Maitreyi Never

‘Never Have I Ever’ Star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan on Her Newfound Fame, Season 2 Dreams for Devi – Variety

At only 18 years old, “Never Have I Ever” star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is soon to become a household name, but the Canadian teen isn’t letting any of the early success of the go to her head.

“I think I’ll always just be a girl from Mississauga,” Ramakrishnan said on the Variety After Show, presented by National Geographic, when asked if she feels like a ‘superstar’ after the show shot to No. 1 on Netflix. “No matter what, I think that’ll always be my roots.”

Ramakrishnan is currently quarantining at home with her family in Canada instead of walking the red carpet in New York or Los Angeles to celebrate the coming-of-age comedy from co-creators Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher. But the young star is still relishing in the excitement around the new show, which centers around Ramakrishnan’s character Devi Vishwakumar, an Indian American teen growing up in Southern California. Devi is a nerdy, hot-headed overachiever who desperately wants to be cool. And in addition to the ultra-relatable high school drama about fitting in, searching for love and trying to figure out who you are, Devi is also dealing with the sudden death of her father.

“It’s awesome because I’m seeing so many people saying, ‘Oh my God, I can relate to this so much.’ Whether it’s something as simple as one of the arm hair jokes — because let’s be real, even though I’m 100% confident with my arm hair, there are days where I go up to my father and I say, ‘Why did you do this to me? Why can’t you give me anything else?’” Ramakrishnan says. “Or somebody saying, ‘Thank you, this made me really realize I have some unpacking to do with the loss of a family member’…That’s all I wanted from this show. Emmys for the cast, Emmys for the direction, a Nobel Peace Prize — I’m not opposed — but, in all seriousness, this is all I wanted from the show.”

It’s been a whirlwind since Ramakrishnan’s first audition (recorded with her best friend at her local community center) and beating out 15,000 other actors on her way to becoming the breakout star in Kaling and Fisher’s show: “This is my first job ever. I never had a job before this. Mindy is my first boss.”

“Honestly, I don’t think on set I ever felt like the star because my drama teacher always taught me if you’re a star [or] if you’re the lead of the show, that means s—. You do not matter that much. You are just the same as everyone else,” she recalls. “That was my mindset coming to set, I didn’t think I was anything crazy special. One thing I won’t forget is just having everybody be so kind to teach me everything that I asked. I asked so many questions. I wanted to learn everything — between hair and makeup to lighting and sound. My fellow actors, I love them so much because they’re the ones that gave me the confidence to do the performance I did. I couldn’t have done that just purely out of high school. A part of that process was my cast members being such great homies to me and supporting me.”

Since “Never Have I Ever” debuted on April 27, Ramakrishnan has been inundated with messages from fans who have fallen in love with the series and its diverse representation, especially given the fact that her character leads the series as a South Asian young woman.

“For a lot of people of color and the South Asian community — I can speak for myself here when I say that we’re so used to being sidekicks, we’re so used to being comedic relief,” she explains. “And sure, there’s nothing wrong with being a sidekick or being funny or the comedic relief … but it isn’t okay when it’s offensive and when that’s all you get. Suddenly, all you’re doing is you’re seeing yourself as a sidekick, as not as important. And when you do relate to a character, they’re usually Caucasian and then you realize you’re living your life in the shadows as a person of color and you’re only able to see yourself through white characters, which is not totally okay either.”

The show also promotes cultural sensitivity, which is especially important to the young Tamil Canadian actor. “That active effort for Devi’s name ‘Vishwakumar,’ to get that right, it’s important because that’s her name. You deserve to be called the way you want to be called, no matter what.”

“Obviously Tamil names are super long. My entire full name — Maitreyi Ramakrishnan — I have 20 letters, but I do have my friends at school that just call me Ramakrishnan and they pronounce it correctly. I think names are so important,” she explains. “I think one of the greatest disrespects you can do to a person is not put the effort into somebody’s name. Personally for me, I used to anglicize my name … in high school. And then when I landed in L.A., they were like, ‘How do you say your name? Sorry, I don’t want to mix it up.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is my chance to reclaim my name’ because I love my name. Why would I change it?”

As for the status of a second season of the breakout hit, Ramakrishnan says she doesn’t know anything just yet, but she has dreams for Devi’s future.

“Three main things — understanding that she needs to be more appreciative of her family and her friends because her friends do a lot for her. Her friends really are her day ones. And also understanding where her mother’s coming from. That is something that we’ll be able to have a lot of audiences relate to, understanding where our parents are coming from even though they might not go about doing certain things the best way possible,” she says.

“Then also the idea of approaching that grief — confronting it, having that battle, even though it’s something uncomfortable to think about, [but] actually just running toward it and facing it, dealing with it head on,” she continues. “And then number three, of course, embracing her culture because that is so important in a world where identity is everything. It’s how you portray yourself. It’s how you show yourself to the world and how everybody will view you, but also how you accept yourself. And I think if Devi does those magic three, she might be a little bit more at peace with herself.”

“Never Have I Ever” is streaming on Netflix.

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Never Review

Never Have I Ever review: Mindy Kaling’s Netflix show takes desi drama worldwide – Hindustan Times

Home / TV / Never Have I Ever review: Mindy Kaling’s Netflix show takes desi drama worldwide

Never Have I Ever

Creators – Mindy Kaling, Lang Fisher

Cast – Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Sendhil Ramamurthy

One of the biggest ironies about Never Have I Ever is something that’ll most likely slip under the radar. The protagonist of the new Netflix show is called Devi, the Sanskrit word for ‘goddess’, but that’s probably the last word anyone would use to describe her.

Played by newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who was chosen from 15000 possible candidates in an open casting call, Devi is a brash, slightly arrogant teenager with a tendency to get herself into trouble. This is perhaps one of the reasons why creators Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher came up with the brilliant idea to cast the famously ill-mannered tennis legend John McEnroe as the show’s narrator.

Watch the Never Have I Ever trailer here 

McEnroe is a born showman, so the fact that his acerbic, Arrested Development-style narration is the highlight of Never Have I Ever shouldn’t come as a surprise, but who knew he was this funny? To hear him describe Indian aunties — “Aunties are old Indian women who have no relation to you but are allowed to have opinions about your life and shortcomings” — is glorious.

And the aunties certainly have a lot to say about young Devi. She’d like to think of herself as someone who has ‘the beauty of Priyanka Chopra and the incisive intellect of RBG’, but in reality, she’s struggling to cope with the death of her father, the demands of being an American teenager, and the pressures of living up to her mother’s Indian ideals.

Part teen romance, part coming-of-age comedy, Never Have I Ever is a delicately written little show, an immigrant tale that feels just about authentic enough to survive in a world where Master of None and Little America exist. Aesthetically, it’s more of a sitcom than either of those two shows; something like Fresh Off the Boat, but it does a much better job at balancing the comedy and the drama.

Hindustantimes

One of its quieter achievements is its characterisation of Devi’s mother, Nalini, played by Poorna Jagannathan. It’s a layered role — perhaps unexpectedly so — one that requires Jagannathan to wear several caps. A widow, a single mother and a driven professional, Nalini is often called to switch between these roles at the drop of a ‘topi’. It might be slightly alarming for American audiences to watch a mother threaten her daughter with casual violence, but Jagannathan’s performance never allows Nalini to slip into the stereotype of a strict South Asian parent. She’s strong-willed and fiercely independent, but also prone to moments of vulnerability.

Also read: Sex Education season 2 review: Netflix’s terrific teen comedy is still a turn-on

But it’ll be even more alarming for American audiences to watch Indian characters who, with the exception of cousin Kamala, do not sound like some sort of racist caricature. At its core, Never Have I Ever — which don’t get me wrong, spends a lot of time on Devi’s pursuit of the school heartthrob — is a story about three women. To the foreign eye, Nalini, Devi and Kamala are simply immigrants. But each of them is written with depth, and the show is very empathetic to its supporting characters, to the point that Devi’s storyline sometimes feels secondary.

But Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is a gifted actor. Often, Devi’s behaviour is repulsive — she’s selfish, ungrateful and petty — but that’s what makes her a real person. Never Have I Ever slaps on a thick layer of brown on a white-washed industry, and takes desi drama worldwide.

Follow @htshowbiz for more

The author tweets @RohanNaahar

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