At the first Coffeehouse of the year, Kashvi Ramani ’24 presented a stand-up poetry performance of her poem “My Dodda in a Day” in front of her peers. The audience, packed into Paresky Commons, erupted into cheers. Recognized as Arlington, Virginia’s 2022 Youth poet laureate and winning a finalist award in the YoungArts competition, she explains that she aspires to diversify the stories being told in the entertainment industry through poetry and film.
“I would say the greatest poem that I wrote…is “My Dodda in a Day”…I’m proud of that piece because it amplified the voices of my grandmother in India, and women in India, as benign victims of domestic violence and falling into this stereotypical life of Indian women and what they are supposed to do in comparison to what they want to do and pursue in their life,” said Ramani.
Ramani’s passion for poetry and film sparked during early childhood, after she watched a TED Talk by Sarah Kay and performed as a main character in the short film “No Strings Attached.” Ever since, Ramani has found a means to explore her Indian-American identity with a wider audience.
“I saw that there is more to poetry than just for yourself, you can speak about your feelings and your perspective and introduce that to a wider audience because they can relate to you and resonate with your poetry… I love the idea of amplifying the voice of my culture, being Indian-American. We don’t get a lot of our voices seen in the performing arts industry, so I’d love to carry the culture that I have grown up with in any way I can,” said Ramani.
According to Ramani, she delivers traditionally underrepresented stories through film. She describes acting as a way to take on another persona and uses both film and poetry to consider social issues.
“I like to tell stories that I don’t already see being told, maybe they are, but they are not being told to the right people and the right audience… I did a film, where it was very much a white savior plot, and I was falling into this by being a character that was rescued by this white person. That’s not a story that I want to convey because it’s misleading. When I write my scripts, when I’m directing, when I’m writing my poetry… I’m able to convey what has not already been put out there,” said Ramani.
Currently, Ramani is the vice president of poetry club, head of Pariah, one of Phillips Academy’s creative writing magazine, and will be a DramaLabs director in the spring. She has also showcased her theater skills in several performance venues, such as Coffee House, DramaLabs, and is planning to perform a spoken word poem at Abbot Cabaret with poetry club. Although she entered Andover as a new upper, Ramani expressed her appreciation for the opportunities Andover has given her to pursue her passions in poetry and film.
“[Andover has] just given me so many opportunities, I didn’t think I was going to be… in these high leadership positions [and be] thrown into plays immediately… As a part of the moviemakers’ club, I got to be one of the few that filmed the Abbot Grants as part of an outside company’s documentary. It’s just all these experiences that are always flowing my way, people are always recommending things to me,” said Ramani.
Ramani’s friend Ava DeWolfe ’24 expressed admiration for the vulnerability that Ramani demonstrates when she is on stage performing. DeWolfe also described Ramani’s work as emotional and powerful, recounting how Ramani’s work often “leaves her speechless.”
“The first time I read one of her poems, I was quite literally blown away. She has this super creative way with words, and is able to make everything she writes sound so professional and powerful. As a performer, Kashvi is incredibly talented at connecting with her audience. Regardless of whether you know her personally or not, she makes everyone feel like they’re alone in the room with her. She’s funny, but real, and it’s impossible to not enjoy her performances,” said DeWolfe.
Ramani explained that her passion in poetry and film will continue throughout her career. She acknowledged that South Asian-Americans are underrepresented in the entertainment industry and hopes to continue presenting South Asian-Americans perspective in the future.
“In the future, I want to start a film company for South Asian Americans. Sophia Vergara did that for Latino Americans, but [South Asian Americans] don’t really have the presence of that currently in our industry, and there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding Indian culture and because my culture is such a big part of my life, I would love to expose that to the world,” said Ramani.
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