The Mean Girls Star Who's A YouTube Chef Now

Lindsay Lohan may have been the star of "Mean Girls," but she was supported by the likes of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Rachel McAdams, who helped transform the early 2000s teen comedy into a cult classic. One actor who doesn't get quite as much credit, but played a super memorable role, is Rajiv Surendra. The 34 year old played Kevin Gnapoor, a highly intelligent classmate of Lohan's character, Cady Heron. And while Surendra's role wasn't as prominent as his co-stars', he did perform the film's famous mathletes rap, thus endearing him in the hearts of viewers. Since then, Surendra has only acted in only one other project, a short film. But that wasn't his plan! 

Surendra spent six years of his life preparing for the leading part in "Life of Pi," a film that followed a shipwrecked boy's rare bond with a Bengal tiger. Ultimately, Surendra lost the role to Suraj Sharma, a decision that was hard for Surendra to cope with. "I felt like someone had died. Very slowly over the course of six years, I was building this boy that was a character in a book," he shared with GQ. "It was traumatic." In the years since that rejection, Surendra leaned into other passions, such as pottery and calligraphy. Most recently, he's launched a major new creative project that's already catching people's attention.

Surendra's YouTube channel offers lessons on Tamil food

Talk about a rebrand! As of January of 2023, Surendra is now among the YouTube chefs running popular cooking channels. Well, cooking actually isn't the only thing that Surendra covers on his channel: He also features a variety of home and maintenance topics, such as ironing and doing laundry. To date, Surendra has supplied his more than 60,000 subscribers with step-by-step guides on how to make coconut milk, Jaffna chili powder, and quick chicken curry, to name a few.

As for why Surendra decided to launch a YouTube channel? He wanted to shine a light on Tamil food, hailing from South India but also eaten in Sri Lanka, where his parents are from. "There are so many things in this cuisine that have no equivalent in other cuisines," Surendra shared with Food & Wine, adding that he especially enjoys preparing Tamil dishes for friends. "They come over and they're like, 'I don't know what this is, but I'm excited.'" 

Though Surendra's YouTube channel is just starting out, he's no stranger to YouTube, as he's periodically filmed lifestyle and inspirational content for HGTV Handmade and Ted Talks. And on the few food videos he's posted, there are countless comments encouraging him to continue, such as: "I love how you romanticize the little things while also embracing the old and new, particularly with regards to culture! Keep up the phenomenal content!"