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Two passions: Ranjita Chakravarty blends auditing and acting

Ranjita, the director of IT Audit in the Office of the Chief Risk Officer, plays the main character's grandmother on “Never Have I Ever,” now beginning its third season on Netflix.
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Working full-time as an auditor and working part-time as an actress in a popular streaming series may seem impossible, but Ranjita Chakravarty is proving that you can combine a successful career with a personal passion. Ranjita is the Director of IT Auditing in the Office of the Chief Risk Officer and also plays the grandmother on “Never Have I Ever,” now beginning its third season on Netflix. Cardinal at Work sat down with Ranjita to hear tips for successfully combining work and play.

Ranjita joined Stanford 24 years ago and has done quite a bit of acting in local theater in the years since then, primarily with Indian theater groups. She’s also directed plays at theaters in Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. The opportunity to audition for “Never Have I Ever” came during the initial stages of the pandemic, with open auditions held over Zoom. After Ranjita got the role of Nirmala, the main character’s grandmother, she made the switch from stage acting to the on-camera role.

Transparency in her communications

Because Ranjita’s stage acting was typically done on weekends and in the evenings, it was new to have a role that sometimes required filming during the day when she is working. To blend her work with her acting, Ranjita said that transparency with her manager was key. She feels supported by both her Stanford manager and the show’s producers; for example, if she is required to do on-site filming for multiple days at a time, she takes vacation leave to do so. The Netflix producers also are cognizant of her Stanford commitments and try to schedule her on-camera work around them. She has also worked remotely from a hotel room near the show’s filming location during times when it was too risky to travel back and forth. As a result, she hasn’t missed important work meetings, and she also hasn’t missed any filming where she was in the scenes. She’s grateful for the ability to mesh her dedication to Stanford with the personal joy she finds in acting.

Tackling work and play, with different expectations

Ranjita’s work as the Director of IT Auditing is focused on providing independent assurance and consulting services to add value and improve the operations of Stanford University, Stanford Hospitals, and SLAC. Internal Audit acts as a valued partner and advisor to help Stanford evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, controls, and governance processes.

In “Never Have I Ever,” Ranjita portrays a kind yet sharp-tongued grandmother, and because the series is a comedy, it’s important she delivers the “punch lines” correctly. Throughout her life, Ranjita says people have told her that she is funny, so she tries to bring her own humor into the character of Nirmala. She feels it’s important to act with authenticity and honesty while also bringing humanity and a bit of fun into the role.

While her work and her acting would seem to be very different, Ranjita relishes the creative outlet and personal happiness that comes with acting. She encourages everyone to find time each week for doing something they really enjoy, no matter what it is. She feels lucky to have found her “thing” and to be supported by her family, friends, and work colleagues. Season 3 for “Never Have I Ever” begins on August 12, so watch for her on your TV screen.

Ranjita is currently filming for the fourth and final season to air in 2023 and she has not gone to Netflix heaven. She adds that even if this is her one and only role in Hollywood, she would have no regrets; she says it’s “been a blast” and she’s learned a lot about acting, film work, and her own priorities in life for finding joy. We can’t wait to see you on TV soon, Ranjita!

Tell us how you blend work and play

Do you have a passion project, volunteer work, or interests that keep you feeling fulfilled in addition to your role at Stanford? Let us know what you're up to through this Google form (SUNet ID required).

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