IN CONVERSATION WITH JAREN LEWISON
Interview by Jana Letonja
Jaren Lewison stars as Ben Gross in the Peabody Award nominated Netflix series ‘Never Have I Ever’, which returns for its fourth and final season on 8th June. Jaren has been nominated for two MTV Movie & TV Awards for his role in ‘Never Have I Ever’ and continues to inspire over-achieving students across the globe.
Jaren, you are starring as Ben in Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’, which is returning for its fourth and final season. What can you tease about the final season?
‘Never Have I Ever’ is such a special show. It’s crafted with the utmost care and love. Everything you identify with and relish about the previous seasons is heightened in this fourth and final season. It is chaotic and wild, and in that there is so much beauty, heart and life. I think that’s what is so special about ‘Never Have I Ever’. That’s what life is. This season is the perfect ending to what has been one of the most loved teen series of recent memory and it has been a genuine honor and a dream to have been a part of it.
In the series you portray Ben, a high school sophomore who is Initially Devi’s nemesis, but later becomes a good friend for whom she has complicated feelings. How would you describe their relationship throughout the series, throughout all seasons?
I think that looking back at the entire series as a whole, their relationship makes a lot of sense in terms of how love works. Sometimes they are pulled apart, but they always find their way back to each other. They have this magnetism to them that is genuinely palpable throughout the series. They just find each other. In times of triumph and tribulations they are there for each other. That’s what love is to me. Someone who makes you better through adversity, who you can lean on, who you grow with. And that’s ‘Bevi’.
How has this series and your role in it changed your career and life?
This series made my 5-year old dreams come true. I had always wanted to be a part of a series that so many people would identify with, appreciate and love with so much passion and vigor. Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, the co-creators of the show, took a chance on a kid from Dallas who at times wasn’t sure if acting would work out. They were my guardian angels. They lifted me up and said “We believe in you”. And I will never ever forget that.
full look NANUSHKA
You discovered your passion for performing at the early age of 5. What drew you to performing and acting?
I think I’ve always loved acting. I loved being the center of attention and I was a very gregarious child. I also loved to imagine. Acting for me was the ultimate profession when I thought of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Even as a grown up, I could live with the same childlike wonder, as acting is the culmination of everything I think I loved about being a kid. Playing pretend, dreaming, the spotlight, hard work and a full spectrum of emotions. Acting has and hopefully always will make me feel indescribably alive.
In 2022 you graduated Summa Cum Laude in just three years from University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with minors in forensics and criminology. What intrigues you the most about forensics and criminology?
The forensics and criminology minor is actually quite different than what people think. It’s a minor that goes handily with a psychology degree because it is a subset of psychology that interacts with the law. Forensic psychology deals with criminality and mental health. Forensic psychologists can treat patients that commit crimes, work as expert witnesses in cases, conduct insanity and competency evaluations and much more. I have always been fascinated by the way people think and the inner workings of the mind, which acting deals with daily as well, especially as it is concerned with criminal deviancy and abnormal psychology. Hopefully that knowledge will help me in the future when I play a role with a dark side.
shoes DR MARTENS
pants ISABEL MARANT
Have you ever though of working in this field?
I do think in another life, I’d have been a forensic psychologist. But for now, I’ll stick with acting and use the knowledge to help improve my authenticity and honesty in my work.
You actually filmed ‘Never Have I Ever’ while being a full-time student at USC. How did you juggle both succesfully? What was the most challenging part of doing both simultaneously?
Scheduling was the hardest thing to manage. I was trying to find time to fit in bits of homework, note taking or even completing tests and quizzes from my trailer on set. Luckily for me, time management has always been one of my greatest skills and I was lucky enough to have an incredible support system on set and in the classroom. My best friends at USC kept me grounded, calm and focused. And the assistant director team at work allowed me to be successful by setting up Wi-Fi in the trailer or even sometimes helping move scenes around so I could take an exam. I genuinely could not have done it without the love and support of my amazing community.
Aside of acting, you are a huge sports fan. Which sport is your favorite? Do you have a favorite athlete or team that you are truly a fan of?
American football and hockey are my favorite sports. I grew up in Dallas, Texas, so I am a huge Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Stars fan. I’m a diehard sports fan. I’d love to go to a Premier League or a World Cup match one day though.
shirt BERNER KUHL
But that’s not all, as you are also into baking. How did you develop a passion for baking? What kind of desserts do you love to bake?
I have a massive sweet tooth and my grandmother on my father’s side is the queen of baked goods. I definitely got my sweet tooth from her. Her and I are extremely close and she is one of my favorite people in the world, so I think there was always so much love associated with desserts in my life because my Grammy and I would make them together. I love red velvet cake the most, but nothing beats Gram’s chocolate chip cookies.
Jaren, tell us more about your upcoming projects, once ‘Never Have I Ever’ ends.
Right now I am navigating what I choose to do next. I love great writing and am less picky about the genre, so we will see what the future holds. But I am incredibly excited to board that next project when the time comes. For now, I’ll enjoy the fan response to ‘Never Have I Ever’ season 4 and close out this amazing series.
Talent JAREN LEWISON @jarenlewison
Photographer PHIL CHESTER & SARA BYRNE @philchester @sarakbyrne
Stylist TABITHA SANCHEZ @tabitharsanchez
Groomer RYAN TANIGUCHI @ryannyc
Editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA @timiletonja