Kavi Ramachandran Ladnier Opens Up About Her Recurring Role In “NCIS: LA” & Challenges As A South Asian Actress

Kat Harlton

Photos: Anu Hodges/The Genuine Article 

Actress Kavi Ramachandran Ladnier is currently recurring on her 2nd season of television’s iconic network franchise, “NCIS: LA” as Agent Shyla Dahr and can also be seen reprising her role on Mindy Kaling’s “The Sex Lives of College Girls” for HBO Max as Bella’s mother.

Additionally, the captivating actress has some other exciting projects in the works including the one woman film ‘Now and Never’- where she both stars and produced it (with her company Art Heart Love Productions) and can be seen alongside Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians) in the feature film “East Bay”. Both films are currently receiving rave reviews on the festival circuit.

I had the opportunity to chat with Kavi about her role, the challenges facing South Asian actors in the industry and what’s next.

Kat: You’re currently recurring on your 2nd season of television’s iconic network franchise, “NCIS: LA,” as Agent Shyla Dahr. What can the audience expect from your character this season?

Kavi: I am so thankful to have been a part of the show in a significant way during seasons 13 and 14. Shyla has been so much fun to play and I am grateful to Executive Producer/Writer Scott Gemmill and the other amazing writers for giving her backstory and really including her as part of the team, especially alongside Admiral Kilbride (the incredible Gerald McRaney). Getting to play with GM, LL Cool J, Chris O’Donnell, Daniela Ruah, Medallion Rehami, Caleb Castille, Eric Olsen and be included in big episodes like the shows 300th and the Crossover event was such a dream come true. Still have a couple of unaired episodes and like everyone else I am excited to see how it all wraps up.

Kat: Was there anything about your role this season that was particularly challenging? 

Kavi: Not challenging in a negative way, but I wanted to make sure Shyla grew with each episode and with great writing and stellar cast mates I think I accomplished that.

Kat: You’ve worked in the entertainment industry for over 27 years as one of few South Asian actors, what has been your biggest challenge thus far, and do you have any advice for emerging South Asian actors just getting started?

Kavi: The biggest challenge was the quality and consistency of opportunity. It has improved and continues to especially with more South Asians behind the scenes as well, but we still have a ways to go to see real equity within the industry. For young South Asian actors getting started I would say get a great teacher and study. Seeing more people like them shouldn’t allow for any misconception that it’s an easy path and if you don’t love acting for the art of it and only want to make money and be famous it can be a difficult road. That would be true for any path we take.

Kat: You’re also reprising your role on Mindy Kaling’s “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” for HBO Max as Bella’s mother. Did you find any similarities between yourself and your character?

Kavi: I loved playing Reena, Bella’s mom. Reena and I are both immigrants and have college age daughters. I grew up in the US from 8 months old so I’m more western influenced than Reena, but we both love our daughters fiercely and want the very best for them.

Kat: Is there a type of character that you’d like to portray that you haven’t had the chance to yet? 

Kavi: I really would love to play the romantic lead in an epic drama. I’ve done so on stage Off Broadway in Rehana Lew Mirza’s Hatef*ck but I cannot wait to do so on film and tv. 

Kat: What’s next?

Kavi: I have several producing projects in various stages slated for this year, and I am writing my first children’s book. My award winning short film Now And Never and feature East Bay (also starring Constance Wu) continue their festival runs and I’m looking forward to more audiences getting to experience both very different pieces that I’m extremely proud of as actor and producer. I plan on doing some international travel and number one on my list is to be a part of a regular TV experience as lovely as NCIS LA.

Connect with Kavi on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kaviladnier1111

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