Rajiv Surendra, the author of "The Elephants In My Backyard: A Memoir," is best known for his portrayal of Kevin G in the Tina Fey-written "Mean Girls." He recounts his famous role, how he once ran away from home and became a nanny in Munich, starting a business in New York, and what else he's up to these days. Following is a transcript of the video.
"Oh please. It’s called 'Mean Girls' and it’s starring Lindsay Lohan. It’s going straight to DVD."
I’m Rajiv Surendra and many of you probably know me as Kevin G. the rapping mathlete from “Mean Girls.”
I can never forget that rap. No one will let me forget the rap. I didn’t think this rap was going to be a big deal. And I had no idea that was going to become one of the iconic moments of "Mean Girls." This two-minute ridiculous rap.
Sucka emcees ain't got nothin' on me!
From my grades to my lines
You can't touch Kevin G!
I'm a mathlete, so nerd is inferred.
But forget what you heard.
I'm like James Bond the Third
Sh-sh-shaken, not stirred. I'm Kevin Gnapoor.
The G is silent when I sneak in your door
And make love to your woman on the bathroom floor.
I don’t play it like Shaggy. You'll know it was me
‘Cuz the next time you see her, she be like,'Ohhh! Kevin G!'"
"Mean Girls" was a lot of fun to shoot because no one on set was a big star. So there were no divas on set. The only sort of big name on set was Lindsay. And Lindsay, at that point, wasn’t a huge star.
I remember sitting in the hair and makeup chair one morning and asking the hair stylist how she thought it would do. She had worked on some pretty big movies and she was like, "Oh please. It’s called 'Mean Girls' and it’s starring Lindsay Lohan. It’s going straight to DVD." Then "Mean Girls" came out and it became this big thing and I was shocked. And it still surprises me that 14-year-olds come up to me and say,"Oh my God! You’re Kevin G."
When I auditioned for "Mean Girls," I was at this point in my life as an actor where I was so frustrated with the stereotype. Parts like mine were atypical. This rapping math guy that didn’t have an Indian accent and bobble his head. And I felt like Tina Fey had written this accurate depiction of what it meant to be a first-generation Indian guy in North America.
On the set of "Mean Girls," the cameraman had read a book and he came up to me one day and was like,"You’re the lead character in this book I just finished."
And I was like,"Oh yea. Is he brown?"
And he’s like,"Actually, yea, he is."
The book happened to be "Life of Pi."
Cause here, finally, was that lead role that wasn’t playing the stereotypical, nerdy Indian kid. This was an authentic Indian kid. And I made it my mission to land that part. I dropped out of college. I flew to South India where the book takes place. I enrolled in the boy's school that Pi attends, this little seminary called Petit Seminaire. And I learned how to walk like those Indian kids. How to talk like them. I wanted to perfect that South Indian accent.
The adaptation of the book went through 5 different directors. All the while I continued researching for this part. This was something that was to continue for 6 years. This stop-and-go pattern. And then a few months later, after this six-year journey, I found out that Ang Lee, the final director, didn’t want an actor. He wanted the real thing.
So I was kind of crushed when I found out someone else was cast. So I actually ended up running away from home. I moved to Munich and I became a nanny for two little kids. Running away was actually kind of the best thing for me. It allowed me to kind of mourn the loss of this big dream that I had. This huge goal that I chased after. I really learned that you really shouldn’t let the fear of failure stand in your way. If you’re willing to take chances amazing things can happen.
I had come back to Toronto a couple of times and I had very casually started this calligraphy business. So I was doing to chalkboard menus at restaurants and cafes in Toronto and it kind of became a thing. So I run a calligraphy business out of New York called Letters In Ink, I’m now an author and I still continue to audition for tv shows and movies.
Well, people are looking at the book, considering turning it into a movie and I would love for that to happen. I think it would be so ironic if the role that I ended up playing was myself. Woody Allen. Where are you? What’s your next movie? It’s this right here Woody.
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