Poorna Jagannathan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Poorna Jagannathan
Poorna Jagannathan in 2015.jpg
Poorna in 2015
Born (1972-12-22) December 22, 1972 (age 49)
Tunis, Tunisia
EducationUniversity of Brasília
University of Maryland, College Park (BA)
Pace University
Years active2001–present
Azad Oommen
(m. 2003)

Poorna Jagannathan (born December 22, 1972)[1] is an American producer and actress of Indian descent. She is best known for her portrayal of Safar Khan in the HBO drama miniseries The Night Of as well for her role as Nalini Vishwakumar in the Netflix teen comedy series Never Have I Ever by Mindy Kaling.She also co-conceived, produced and acted in the play Nirbhaya,[2]

Early life[edit]

Her father, G. Jagannathan, was an Indian diplomat. Poorna was born in Tunis, Tunisia and grew up in Pakistan, Ireland, India, Brazil and Argentina. She speaks Tamil, Hindi, English, Spanish and Portuguese.[3] She attended the University of Brasília before graduating in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. On a scholarship, she studied toward a Master of Fine Arts in acting at the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University.[4] Although she dropped out after the first year, she continued to study acting under her mentor, Elizabeth Kemp, whom she met there. Poorna went on to train at The Barrow Group where she is currently a board and company member.[5] Before her career as an actor, Poorna spent 15 years working in advertising at agencies like TBWA\Worldwide, Ogilvy, and Deutsch Inc. before starting her own consultancy, Cowgirls & Indians.[6]


Poorna has appeared on several TV shows like Big Little Lies, Better Call Saul and Ramy. She played Blacklister #44 on The Blacklist, and appeared as the guest lead on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for their 18th year's double-season-finale episodes.[citation needed] In 2017, she played one of the leads in A24's film Share.[7] Share premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, winning Best Screenplay and Best Actor, and was immediately acquired by HBO.[8]

Imran Khan and Poorna Jagannathan at the success bash of Delhi Belly

Poorna also won critical acclaim for her role as a spunky, irreverent journalist in the 2011 Bollywood film Delhi Belly. The Village Voice said that "the most enjoyably subversive element is Poorna Jagannathan as the self-sufficient bachelorette who waylays Tashi on his way to the altar. Rangy, corkscrew-haired, with a wary demeanor that can't long be upset by anything, she's a happy departure from the usual run of Xeroxed, pedestaled beauties."[9] Mumbai Mirror said, "Poorna Jagannathan, an offbeat choice, is remarkably subtle and does a brilliant job."[10] The Daily News and Analysis said that Poorna shines in the film, and that "her bohemian sex appeal" is "a refreshing change from the prim and proper 'heroine' we are used to watching."[11] The editor of Outlook Lounge said that Poorna's performance was a "masterclass in effortless acting". In 2019, Delhi Belly was named one of the top 25 Bollywood movies of the decade by FilmCompanion.[12]

In 2012, Deadline.com reported that Poorna had joined the cast of the HBO show The Night Of as a series regular.[13][14] Her performance in The Night Of received rave reviews; Vinnie Mancuso of Observer wrote, "Poorna Jagannathan, who has been putting in one of the year's most heartbreaking performances, continues to shine....."[15] Vikram Murthi from Vulture wrote "Poorna Jagannathan's subtle performance really shines .... Her facial reactions convey such a profound array of emotions."[16] Variety's Sonia Saraiya wrote that her performance was "quietly devastating".[17]

In September 2016, it was announced that Poorna had joined the cast of Gypsy as a series regular.[18] The Netflix produced series was led by Naomi Watts but was not renewed for another season. In May 2018, Deadline announced that Poorna had joined the cast of the HBO series Big Little Lies as a recurring character named Katie Richmond.[19]

Poorna's comic performance in Room 104 was widely praised by critics. Kathryn VanArendonk of Vulture wrote, "But Jagannathan's Divya is even better. Even without a physical presence, Divya is still immediately recognizable as a character. At times she's breezily unconcerned, at other moments, she's sharply chastising her son for his brusqueness. Her delivery is the bedrock of the episode's sense of humor."

She is currently a series regular on Mindy Kaling's new show Never Have I Ever, which released its first season with a 100% and its second season with a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes from its Top Critics.[20] Poorna's performance as Nalini Vishwakumar was lauded by critics and her nuanced portrayal of an immigrant woman has been regarded as groundbreaking and a first for television. Sonia Saraiya from Vanity Fair said, "I’ve seen a lot of actors attempt to flesh out the stereotypically demanding Indian mom, but I’ve never seen anyone do it as well as Jagannathan does... It’s the little things: the nearly untraceable Indian accent, the mumbled exclamations in a different language, the slight gestures and paranoiac side-eyes of the Indian aunty, the seemingly effortless bridging of the paradox between ancient tradition and modern necessity."[21] Jinal Bhatt from Mashable.com wrote, "Poorna Jagannathan has been a revelation in this series, and I’d say she puts forth one of the best portrayals of Indian-American mothers we’ve seen. Some of the #JustMomThings she says penetrate through the screen and hit you while you watch! But her dynamic with Devi is beautiful in the subtext."[22] John Anderson from The Wall Street Journal said that she "is a hilarious mix of Indian tradition, widowhood, creeping Americanization and the flat delivery of a sentencing judge."[23] Delia Cai from Vanity Fair says, "By following Nalini’s story beyond the basic assimilation arc and exploring her character via universal themes of parenting, loss, and intergenerational family ties, we get a fully three-dimensional character who is easily the best part of the show."[24]

In 2018, Poorna lent her voice to three podcasts in the Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series, based on The New York Times Best Seller list books by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo. She read the stories of Mary Kom, Margaret Hamilton and Madam C. J. Walker. The series was named among the 50 best podcasts for 2018 by Time[25] and won the 2019 People's Choice Podcast Award in the Education category.[26]

Moved by a gang rape and murder in Delhi on December 16, 2012, Poorna initiated, produced and acted in a testimonial play called Nirbhaya (transl. Fearless, a pseudonym given to the victim).[27] The play uses the rape and death of Jyoti Singh Pandey to break the silence around sexual violence. Poorna collaborated with internationally acclaimed playwright and director, Yaël Farber, to build the play.[28][29] Nirbhaya opened at the Assembly Hall in August 2013 during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.[30] It won the coveted 2013 Amnesty International Award as well as the Scotsman Fringe First and Herald Angel Awards.and received excellent reviews from leading publications. The Sunday Herald called Nirbhaya "One of the most powerful and urgent pieces of human rights theatre ever made".[31][32][33][34] In March 2014, Nirbhaya was the centerpiece performance for Southbank's "Women of the World" festival where it played to sold-out houses in the UK. After a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund an India tour, Nirbhaya opened to critical acclaim in India on March 17, 2014, playing to sold-out houses in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore.[35][36] In August 2014, The Guardian audiences voted Nirbhaya among the top 10 "best fringe moments" in the Edinburgh Festival's history.[37] Nirbhaya opened to rave reviews at The Culture Project in New York City in May 2015, and rose to become The New York Times Critics' Pick.[38] The play toured for three years in multiple cities in Ireland, Canada, the UK, India and the U.S. Many reviewers stated that it was one of the most political and deeply moving pieces of theater ever made.[39] "Nirbhaya" is considered one of the most impactful moments in India's history of the women's empowerment movement.[40]



Year Title Role Notes
2004 She Hate Me Song's Girlfriend
2005 The Weather Man NY Pedestrian
2007 Awake Dr. Neyer's Nurse
2011 Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Mira
Delhi Belly Menaka Vashisht
2012 Thanks for Sharing Dr. Kazhani
2013 Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani Riana
2015 Growing Up Smith Nalini Bhatnagar
2016 Carrie Pilby Fliss
2017 The Circle Dr. Villalobos
2018 Mile 22 Dorothy Brady
An Actor Prepares Dr. Fisher
2019 Share Kerri
2020 Alia's Birth Jaime
2022 The Out-Laws Rehan Post-production[41]
TBA Turtles All the Way Down Dr. Singh Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2004 Law & Order Rehana Khemlani 1 episode
2005 Starved PJ 1 episode
2006 Love Monkey Director 1 episode
2006 Rescue Me Dr. Klein 1 episode
2006 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Dr. Sikh 1 episode
2008 The Game Dr. Diamond 1 episode
2009 Numb3rs Tech #1 1 episode
2010-2011 Royal Pains Saya 2 episodes
2015 House of Cards Dr. Lanjawni 2 episodes
2016 NCIS: Los Angeles Dr. Nitya Agarwal 1 episode
2016 Rizzoli & Isles Mrs. Jalbani 1 episode
2016 The Night Of Safar Khan Miniseries, 8 episodes
2017 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Maya Samra 2 episodes
2017 Gypsy Larin Inamdar Main role, 8 episodes
2017 Room 104 Divya 1 episode
2017 The Blacklist Nirah Ahmad 1 episode
2018 Taken Judith Chapman 1 episode
2018 Better Call Saul Dr. Maureen Bruckner 2 episodes
2018 Sorry for Your Loss Therapist 1 episode
2019 The Act Dr. Lakshmi Chandra 1 episode
2019 Ramy Salma 2 episodes
2019 Big Little Lies Katie Richmond 3 episodes
2020 Messiah Sanjana Mirza 3 episodes
2020 Defending Jacob Elizabeth Vogel 4 episodes
2020–present Never Have I Ever Dr. Nalini Vishwakumar Main role, 30 episodes
2020 The Wilds Rana Jadmani 1 episodes


  • For her performance in Delhi Belly, Jagannathan won the Stardust award for Best Supporting Actress[42] and the L'Oreal Femina Award for Breakthrough Performance in 2012.[43]
  • She was named among the top 100 Most Impactful Asians in 2021 and 2022 by Goldhouse[44]
  • Jagannathan has been featured on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Femina, Jade and Exotica and covered in numerous publications like Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan and Grazia
  • In 2014, Verve magazine named her among the top 50 most powerful women in India[45]
  • She was featured in Vogue's October 2012 anniversary issue as one of 8 women who are changing the face of beauty in India
  • Jagannathan was featured among the top 10 in Femina magazine's "India's 50 most beautiful women" in 2012
  • Vogue included her in their list of most stylish women in 2012, 2014 and 2015
  • Grazia awarded Jagannathan the "Best Dressed Award" for 2014
  • She was ranked Most Fashionable Indian Woman by Cosmopolitan in their October 2013 and 2012 issues
  • She was included in Verve's "2012's Best dressed Women" issue
  • Italian Marie Claire named Jagannathan as one of the 12 women from the East impacting Western cinema in 2012[46]
  • She was included in Elle magazine's hot 100 list for 2011
  • She is also a brand ambassador for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Award Category
Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award 2013 Winner
Scotsman Fringe First Award 2013 Winner
Herald Angel Award 2013 Winner
L'Oreal Femina Women Awards 2012 Winner of Breakthrough Performance
10th Annual Kamala Pasand Max Stardust Awards Winner of Breakthrough Supporting Performance (Female)
18th Annual Colors Screen Awards Nominated for Best Debut Actor (Female)
Zee Cine Awards 2012 Nominated for Best Debut Actor (Female)
18th Annual Colors Screen Awards Nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Female)


  1. ^ "Poorna Jagannathan, उम्र, हाइट, पति, बच्चे, परिवार, Biography in Hindi - बायोग्राफी". News Hindustan. May 15, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  2. ^ "Nirbhaya presented by Nightwood Theatre 2015" – via YouTube.
  3. ^ Banerjee, Debesh (July 9, 2011). "The Belly Button". The Indian Express. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  4. ^ Appelo, Tim (May 4, 2012). "The Hollywood Reporter's List of the 25 Top Drama Schools". The Hollywood Reporter.
  5. ^ "Poorna Jagannathan – TBG Artist Conversations". July 13, 2020.
  6. ^ "Poorna Jagannathan". August 22, 2021.
  7. ^ McNary, Dave (November 1, 2017). "Film News Roundup: Poorna Jagannathan Starring in Pippa Bianco Drama (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "HBO News - HBO Acquires Pippa Bianco's 'Share'". HBO. Retrieved July 11, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Pinkerton, Nick (June 29, 2011). "Bollywood Gets Raunchy in Delhi Belly". The Village Voice. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  10. ^ Anshuman, Karan (July 2, 2011). "Effing great". Mumbai Mirror. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  11. ^ Guha, Aniruddha (July 1, 2011). "Review: Delhi Belly will have you laughing your a$ off". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  12. ^ "25 Greatest Hindi Films Of The Decade | Film Companion". filmcompanion.in.
  13. ^ Nellie Andreeva (September 19, 2012). "HBO Orders 'Criminal Justice' Drama Pilot Starring James Gandolfini, From Steven Zaillian & Richard Price". Deadline. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  14. ^ "The Night Of: Miniseries". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 11, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "Was HBO's 'The Night Of' a Masterpiece? There Is Reasonable Doubt". Observer. August 29, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  16. ^ "The Night Of Recap: Ugly Cats in Small Cages". Vulture. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  17. ^ Saraiya, Sonia (July 8, 2016). "TV Review: 'The Night Of'".
  18. ^ Pedersen, Erik (September 23, 2016). "Brenda Vaccaro & 'The Night Of's Poorna Jagannathan Join Netflix Drama 'Gyspy' – Update". Deadline.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ Petski, Denise (May 7, 2018). "'Big Little Lies': Poorna Jagannathan Set To Recur In Season 2 Of HBO Series". Deadline.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ "Never Have I Ever: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 11, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ Saraiya, Sonia (April 17, 2020). "Charming and Bright, Never Have I Ever Is Mindy Kaling's Best Show Yet". Vanity Fair.
  22. ^ "Never Have I Ever Review: Mindy Kaling's Netflix Teen Comedy Goes Down Like A Smooth Shot". Mashable India. April 24, 2020.
  23. ^ Anderson, John (April 23, 2020). "'Never Have I Ever' Review: Everyone's a Sidekick". The Wall Street Journal.
  24. ^ "'Never Have I Ever' Season Two and the Beauty of Tearing up the "Immigrant Mom" Trope". Vanity Fair. July 21, 2021.
  25. ^ Dockterman, Eliana (March 30, 2018). "The 50 Best Podcasts to Listen to Right Now". Time.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  26. ^ "Podcast Awards". Podcast Awards - The People's Choice. Retrieved July 10, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  27. ^ Tuli, Aanchal (June 5, 2013). "Play on Nirbhaya in Edinburgh now". The Times of India.
  28. ^ Andrew Dickson (August 4, 2013). "Nirbhaya: the Edinburgh play telling the truth about abuse". The Guardian. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  29. ^ Trueman, Matt (May 14, 2013). "Nirbhaya: play exploring Delhi gang rape heads to Edinburgh festival 2013". The Guardian. London.
  30. ^ Nathan, John (May 14, 2013). "Nirbhaya: Play about the Delhi rape that shocked the world set for Edinburgh". The Independent. London.
  31. ^ "Nirbhaya". Assembly Festival. Archived from the original on August 22, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
  32. ^ "Fringe reviews: Nirbhaya / Somnambules & The 7 Deadly Sins / The Events". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  33. ^ Barnett, Laura (August 5, 2013). "Edinburgh Festival 2013: Nirbhaya, review". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  34. ^ "Yaël Farber's Play "Nirbhaya" Wins Amnesty Award". Artinfo. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  35. ^ Ranade, Ajit (March 22, 2014). "Breaking the silence". Mumbai Mirror. Retrieved September 5, 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  36. ^ Phadke, Mithila (March 18, 2014). "Mumbai gives Nirbhaya play a standing ovation". The Times of India.
  37. ^ Marta Bausells (August 2014). "Edinburgh festival: your favourite shows and memorable moments". The Guardian. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  38. ^ Brantley, Ben (April 27, 2015). "Review: 'Nirbhaya,' a Lamentation and a Rallying Cry for Indian Women". The New York Times.
  39. ^ "Nirbhaya". show-score.com.
  40. ^ "The most impactful moments in the history of women's empowerment". Vogue India. January 26, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  41. ^ Grobar, Matt (October 28, 2021). "'The Out-Laws': Ellen Barkin, Nina Dobrev, Michael Rooker, Lil Rel Howery & More Round Out Cast Of Netflix Action Comedy". Deadline. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  42. ^ "Online Event promotion". meraevents.com. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  43. ^ "Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka Latest Breaking News and Headlines". dailymirror.lk.
  44. ^ "A100 Hall of Fame".
  45. ^ "Power Catalyst: Poorna Jagannathan". Verve Magazine. June 24, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  46. ^ "ImperAttrici". Marie Claire Italy. September 28, 2012. Archived from the original on April 7, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2013.

External links[edit]