Richa Moorjani

Richa Moorjani On Her Love of Pilates, Going to Therapy, and Her Mom's Best Skin-Care Advice

Plus, the Never Have I Ever actress opens up about dealing with chronic pain.

Richa Moorjani met her husband on a dating app. Well, technically, her friend found him on an app after creating Moorjani's profile to entertain herself during a road trip from the Bay Area (where the actress grew up) to Los Angeles, she tells Shape over Zoom. Her long, dark hair is pulled back in a ponytail and she's wearing a white button-up shirt (over leggings and a sports bra, she later reveals). "When in doubt, just put on a white button-up," she says.

Moorjani stars as Kamala in Netflix's coming-of-age series Never Have I Ever (co-created by Mindy Kaling), portraying the young protagonist's older cousin. Throughout the series, her character is often conflicted between following her heart and living up to her Indian family and their culture's expectations — something to which Moorjani says she can relate.

"I felt a lot of pressure from — whether it was family or society — to find someone and to settle down and to get married," she says. "I know what that pressure feels like and how suffocating it can feel and confusing also because you want to do good by your parents and your family and your community, but then you also want to feel happy and feel like you're carving out your own path," she explains.

While Moorjani did find love with a little help from a friend and an algorithm, both she and her character (who's pursuing a career in biology in the show) have a lot more going on in their lives than searching for a partner. Ahead, Moorjani shares what she's up to when she's not playing Kamala, including her favorite ways to work out, how she takes care of her mental health, and the one all-important skin-care tip she learned from her mother.

Richa Moorjani
Courtesy of Richa Moorjani

Moving Through the Pain

Moorjani grew up as a dancer, a practice she calls her "foundation," adding, "I always say it's my first love, and [dancing] kind of introduced me to the world of performing and storytelling." However, chronic pain (the source of which has largely been a mystery to Moorjani) and the recent COVID-19 pandemic have kept the actress from dancing as much as she'd like to, she explains. So, over the past few years, she's looked for workouts that are low impact and can help her manage her pain.

Richa Moorjani on dealing with chronic pain

The one thing that's really helped me, aside from doing physical therapy and other therapeutic things for my pain, has been Pilates.

— Richa Moorjani on dealing with chronic pain

"The one thing that's really helped me, aside from doing physical therapy and other therapeutic things for my pain, has been Pilates," she says, adamant to give a shout-out to her instructor Kara Duval, whose classes are available online. "It's really helped me," she adds.

Moorjani says she also enjoys going to yoga classes, but she's keenly aware of how the traditional Indian practice has been "distorted all over the world," referring to the cultural appropriation of yoga in western countries. In addition to the need for "Brown representation" in marketing imagery from companies that sell yoga clothes, Moorjani says she also wishes yoga studios would make more space for people of color to teach classes. And if a studio offers classes that stray from the traditional practice (say, by playing hip-hop music), "don't call it yoga," she says. Instead, "call it a yoga-inspired workout," she suggests.

Richa Moorjani
Courtesy of Richa Moorjani

Normalizing Going to Therapy

Although Moorjani's acute chronic pain, which she says affects multiple areas of her body, has been getting "a lot better" recently, it's still a large part of her life. "I think it's important to talk about," she says, remembering the rush of support she received when she first shared some of her experience with chronic pain on Instagram. "A lot of people sent me DMs with suggestions of how I could help myself, and that was kind of amazing," she says. "It was kind of like putting out a cry for help and a lot of people actually came to the rescue."

Chronic pain is an "invisible disease," Moorjani points out. "I think people don't take your issues very seriously if they can't see it, which is hard to navigate," she says, adding that the same problem is present for those with mental health issues. This is something Never Have I Ever addresses as well, as the main character, Devi, is seen going to therapy throughout the series.

"[Therapy] is a taboo subject in many cultures and in many societies — definitely in South Asian culture," she explains. "I think just normalizing watching this young Indian girl going to therapy and not making a big deal about it — she just goes to therapy and it's a part of her journey — I think it's been really incredible to show."

Richa Moorjani on self care

I think it's important to really take the time and to be intentional to prioritize taking care of your mental health.

— Richa Moorjani on self care

Moorjani isn't shy about the fact that she also goes to therapy herself. "I think it's important to really take the time and to be intentional to prioritize taking care of your mental health," she says. That's why the actress tries to take an hour to herself each morning to stretch, meditate, exercise, and journal, she explains. And when she has a day off, you likely won't find her letting loose over cocktails with friends. Instead, Moorjani says she prefers to spend her free time working out or going on a hike with her family. "I try to make use of that [free] time rather than just, like, sitting down and watching TV — which I also do," she admits.

Richa Moorjani
Courtesy of Richa Moorjani

Listening to Timeless Beauty Advice

Moorjani is just as intentional about her skin care as she is about taking care of her mental health. "I can't remember the last time I went to bed without washing my face," she says, sharing that her mom has had a big influence on how she takes care of her skin and her health in general. "My mom is a huge skin-care person," she says. "The one thing that she always told me was never go to bed without washing your face, especially if you have makeup on. So, I never do."

As a vegan, Moorjani says she only uses "clean, cruelty-free, and vegan" products while following her mother's words of wisdom. Right now, she's loving a squalane and vitamin C rose oil from Biossance, Caudalie's popular face mist, and a ginger turmeric cleansing balm from True Botanicals. She's also a fan of just about every product Osea makes, especially its body oil, she shares.

Richa Moorjani on skin care

I can't remember the last time that I went to bed without washing my face.

— Richa Moorjani on skin care

When it comes to her hair, Moorjani is pretty low maintenance. "It sounds so annoying to say, but I think I've been blessed with really good hair," she says with a laugh. "I guess one thing that I've always done that I think is also a cultural thing is we oil our hair...For generations we've always oiled our hair," she explains. Moorjani oils her hair the morning or night before washing it, something she does sparingly. "I wash my hair every four, sometimes five days — definitely not every day — and I think that also helps to not dry it out," she says.

While Moorjani admits she isn't familiar with the term hair slugging that's been popularized by TikTok users who have recently discovered the benefits of oiling hair, she has noticed the growing trend of using hair oil in general. "I'm not mad about it, I mean, if it's good for your hair, you should do it," she says. "Whether it's yoga or turmeric, I think it's just recognizing that these traditions and these rituals did come from somewhere and they did come from a culture, and I guess, recognizing that and paying homage to it."

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