INLOVE We Trust
Richa Moorjani: A Journey Through Acting, Activism, and Authenticity
Step into the enchanting world of Richa Moorjani as the actor, producer, and activist graces the Winter cover of INLOVE Magazine
Fresh off the buzz surrounding the fifth installment of FX’s Emmy-winning series “Fargo,” Richa Moorjani’s star power is more evident than ever as she has earned praise for her standout performance in this star-studded cast. As we delve into Moorjani’s journey, she discusses her groundbreaking role in “Never Have I Ever,” her commitment to spotlighting the South Asian diaspora, and her life as an activist advocating for social justice, animal welfare, environmental protection, and mental health. As we dive in, we discover a multifaceted artist with a passion for authenticity and inclusion, an artist who uses her platform to drive positive change.
“What I love so much about INLOVE Magazine is that you spotlight very diverse talent, and it is centered around the message of spreading love, joy, and inspiration through your stories, which we desperately need more of,” Moorjani shared with writer Sari Cohen just after shooting the cover.
INLOVE: Tell me about your journey and how you fell INLOVE with acting.
Richa Moorjani: My journey in acting began at a very young age when I was growing up in the Bay Area. My family has been deeply connected to the arts, which is a big part of our culture, since before I was born with my parents, who literally fell in love through playing music together in a band. So, love and the arts have always felt inseparable to me. I started learning Indian classical dance at age five, which opened me up to the world of performance and storytelling and eventually led me to where I am today.
INLOVE: What were some obstacles you overcame on your rise to success?
Richa Moorjani: There are new obstacles every day, to be honest. One of the biggest obstacles has been, and still often is, my own self. I’ve always been extremely critical of myself, and although it can be helpful at times for me to continue learning and growing, it’s also hard on my mental and physical health. So, learning to be more loving and kind to myself as I would to a friend or a sister is something I’m always working on and reminding myself of.
INLOVE: What was the first role you got that changed your life?
Richa Moorjani: Definitely the role of Kamala on “NHIE.” My life quite literally changed overnight when the first season was released globally on Netflix.
INLOVE: “Never Have I Ever” was a phenomenal, groundbreaking show for several reasons. Tell me about your experience on the show, what you remember most fondly about that time, working with the rest of the cast, and what you miss most about being on set.
Richa Moorjani: It was a pathbreaking show that created a sense of belonging for my community for sure, but the gifts it gave the world were also gifts it gave me personally. The show gave me the feeling of not just being seen but respected and understood for who I am and where I come from as a South Asian American actress and woman. I don’t think I’ll ever fully realize how monumental the show has been for different reasons, but I’m just grateful beyond words that it happened and that I was a part of it. I miss being on set with what became my second family, from the cast to the crew, and not being the only brown person on set. But I have high hopes that this is just the beginning when it comes to authentic South Asian representation behind and in front of the camera.
INLOVE: What did you love most about playing Kamala? What lessons did you take away from that character that you still apply in your everyday life?
Richa Moorjani: What I loved most about playing Kamala was how much I felt like I was connected to her. Although it’s always a dream to play a character very different from yourself, I would say it’s equally gratifying to do the opposite, especially as a POC who rarely gets that opportunity. Both of us are women who have had a hard time balancing cultural and family
expectations with our own happiness and desires, and her growth throughout the series very much mirrored my own.
INLOVE: How do you think “NHIE” and Kamala, specifically, positively influenced pop culture?
Richa Moorjani: I can’t even count the number of South Asian women and young girls who have expressed to me how much they felt like Kamala represented them and made them feel less alone. It’s one of the most meaningful things you can hear as an actor – when your work goes beyond entertainment and actually helps heal hearts. And then there are non-South Asian people who tell us they have a whole new perspective and deeper appreciation and understanding of our culture, which may be the single most important thing about authentic storytelling about an underrepresented group in mainstream media.
INLOVE: If you could revisit one role today, who would it be and why?
Richa Moorjani: Probably a character I played in a high school play. I won’t name that. I cringe every time I think about it. I would go back and do it differently. But also, I wouldn’t because that’s how we learn and grow.
INLOVE: Tell us about playing Minnesota Police Deputy Indira Olmstead on “Fargo.” What did you love about your role and being part of this critically acclaimed show?
Richa Moorjani: As I said before about enjoying playing a character so close to who I am [Kamala], I loved playing Indira for the opposite reason – we couldn’t be farther apart, at least on the surface. It was a different type of challenge to play a character who was so outside of my comfort zone and yet still finding parts of myself in her. She’s tough, determined, and driven by her instinct to protect and serve – but she’s also a total mess, and her life is falling apart around her. The response to this show has been very different for me compared to my last job in terms of audience and the conversations around it, but that’s what makes it exciting and fun.
INLOVE: You’re starring opposite some pretty incredible talent in this show. Who have you gotten to work with so far that has truly blown your mind?
Richa Moorjani: I got to work with pretty much everyone in the cast at least once, but most of my big scenes were with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Juno Temple, who both absolutely blew my mind with not just their talents but their captivating and inspiring personalities.
INLOVE : What else can you share about “Fargo” and some of your upcoming projects?
Richa Moorjani: My character is the first South Asian and woman of color to step into the shoes of the role that represents the moral compass of this installment. Although there are parallels between her and Frances McDormand’s character from the original movie, she is a fresh new take dealing with different circumstances. I love that this installment deals with the theme of debt and how it rules our lives in different ways, and Indira is our window into the reality of millions of Americans who are crippled by insurmountable financial debt despite doing their best every day to work hard. As for upcoming projects, I don’t know what I’m doing next, but I know I’m going to be extra picky after coming off two hit shows that have set the bar very high for me.
INLOVE: Actor, producer, and activist are all part of your title. Can you speak on some of the projects you are producing and some of the social causes you champion?
Richa Moorjani: I’m excited to develop and produce my own projects in the near future, with a couple in very early stages at the moment. My goal is to help make stories that give a voice to my community and smash stereotypes.
When it comes to my activism, I am very passionate and outspoken about the environment, animal welfare, and mental health, among other social justice issues. I work with a few organizations to amplify these causes and am a
global ambassador for World Animal Protection. Over here in LA, I’m also a board advisor for the Hollywood Climate Summit.
If people want to learn more and get involved, I suggest watching documentaries like “Cowspiracy,” “Common Ground,” and “Earthlings.” Our broken food/agriculture system is a leading cause of food insecurity, environmental destruction, climate change, racial injustice, and, of course, the pain and suffering of trillions of living sentient beings. I watched one documentary three years ago and became plant-based overnight, which in turn fueled my activism for all the causes I mentioned, as they are all deeply intertwined.
INLOVE: You are also a pretty talented dancer. Can you share a bit about your love for dancing? I loved the video you did with Maitreyi a couple of years ago! Do you have any dance projects coming up?
Richa Moorjani: Dance was my first love and is so much a part of who I am. It was also a direct line of connection to my culture when I was growing up. Doing that dance with Maitreyi outside of “NHIE” was so much fun, and our real agenda was to get the show’s writers to write a dance sequence in – which they did in the final season! We were thrilled; it was probably my favorite moment from all four seasons. I don’t have any dance projects coming up, but I’m manifesting getting to dance in a Bollywood film, which has been a lifelong dream.
INLOVE: Do you think there will ever be a “NHIE” reunion? And what might that look like? What would Kamala be up to now?
Richa Moorjani: I truly hope so! It’s hard to imagine we won’t ever get to be on set together again in our characters. It would be so cool to see them after Devi graduates from college and in that next phase of all their lives, maybe a movie? I think Kamala is living her best life now with the man she chose to be with on her own terms and thriving in her career/studies as a badass woman in STEM. She’ll definitely win a Nobel Prize one day.
INLOVE: What is your overall mission, and how do you hope your work positively impacts people’s lives?
Richa Moorjani: My overall mission is to do good work that helps to shine a light on the most underrepresented voices, especially in the South Asian diaspora, while paving the way for younger artists of color, as people before have done for me. Before taking on any project, I always ask: does this move the needle in terms of representation of my community? Does it have something to say that will spark important conversations? Do I think this will touch people’s hearts? It has to check at LEAST one of those boxes.
INLOVE: What do you love most about fashion and doing a shoot like this?
Richa Moorjani: Fashion has always been a way of expressing identity and even stepping into my culture and tradition. But also, I’ve always had a conflicting relationship with it as fashion is one of the most environmentally destructive industries in the world that is also deeply rooted in racial injustice and human rights issues. Not to mention the toxic body standards that are perpetuated by the world of fashion. I try to be a vessel with my own style to bring awareness to sustainable designers who are committed to protecting the planet and ethical practices while celebrating all body types. I have an extra soft spot for designers who celebrate Indian craftsmanship and uplift local artisans.
INLOVE: How did these looks make you feel? What did you love most about the style for your feature?
Richa Moorjani: These looks made me feel confident and bold and also pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is always something I enjoy about styling.
INLOVE: Did you have a favorite part of the day?
Richa Moorjani: My favorite part was working with the awesome and talented photographer, glam team, and stylist! We had so much fun.
INLOVE: Our brand and the message of this issue is INLOVE we trust. Why is it important, especially during this time, to trust in the message of love and unity?
Richa Moorjani: With so much division in our country and the world at large, there has never been a more important time to spread the message of love and unity. It truly saddens me to see how disconnected we are from each other and Mother Earth and all her magnificent inhabitants. And yet, we see stories of hope and joy around the world despite different challenges, and those stories are all deeply rooted in love and unity. As cliché as it may sound, I firmly believe in the concept of unity in diversity. Celebrating our differences and accepting that we may not agree on everything while embracing our common humanity is what will heal our world.
Words by Sari Cohen.
Cover Look: Tee Shirt by INLOVE (inlovemag.com/shop)
Jacket: Alexander McQueen (SaksFifthAve.com)
Photographer: Charlie Babcock
Creative Director: Elena Vasilevsky
Stylist: Malyssa Lyles
Assistant: Justin Ruse
Writer: Sari Cohen
Hair: Virginie Pineda
Makeup: Gabrielle Alvarez