One of the best science classes your tween will actually stay awake for is just one Netflix subscription away.
Brainchild, a new Netflix series produced by Pharrell Williams, offers science lessons that vary from debunking the five-second rule to the psychology behind social media. Whether Brainchild is exploring the ocean floor or explaining the safety of eating spaghetti off your toilet seat, Dallas-raised actress and comedian Sahana Srinivasan is the host at the center of each lesson.
Srinivasan serves as the hipper, more accessible Bill Nye for the digital generation, speaking directly into the camera to engage an audience whose eyes wander more to their tablet or phone in hand than the larger screen in front of them. The team behind Brainchild, Atomic Entertainment, is acutely aware of that fight to receive undivided attention, and by utilizing Srinivasan’s comedic timing and charismatic presence, they set themselves up to win the battle.
Although still a student at the University of Texas in Austin, Srinivasan is quickly becoming a veteran of the entertainment industry. Born in Houston and raised in Dallas from the age of 2, Srinivasan has been entertaining audiences since she was 6 by performing in local talent shows. From there she landed a role in the film Space Warriors before making her television debut as the host of Brainchild.
“I was able to really embrace my personality through the script, and I think that was something I really enjoyed and looked forward to,” Srinivasan says. “Just the variety of things that we were doing every day with something new — that was also very exciting. One day we were working with puppets, the next day we were talking about space, another day I was in a football locker room with a football team. It was just a new genre every day.”
Brainchild shot in New York, so to fully commit to the long shooting days, Srinivasan took a semester off, but by taking extra courses during the summer, she stayed caught up. She estimates that, with fingers crossed, she’ll still be on track to graduate in May.
Because of the constantly changing subjects and the varying complexities of the topics each episode would tackle, Srinivasan received the scripts ahead of time for memorization and then discussed that episode's lesson in more depth before shooting. Srinivasan says because of Brainchild's fun approach to science, she learned several new things.
Hosting Brainchild is not only an important step in Srinivasan's career, but she also has a chance to represent her culture in front of a worldwide audience. Even with a schedule packed with college courses, acting and stand-up comedy, she also makes short films and music videos that showcase minority talent. The eagerness to embrace minority casting is something Srinivasan applauds Brainchild for.
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“I think Brainchild does a great job of that because having an Indian woman host is great because people just aren’t used to seeing something like that,” Srinivasan says. “I have been getting responses from young Indian girls who are like, ‘I’m so excited to see me on TV. A familiar face.’”
For the future, Srinivasan wants to graduate while still pursuing acting and stand-up comedy. She first performed stand-up when she was 15, but she has put a more intent focus on it within the last two years. The nights of repeatedly hitting open mics to work on jokes have been paying off, with her performing in shows at Dallas Comedy House and being the opening act for Ari Shaffir at Cap City Comedy Club in Austin. She does see a move to either New York or Los Angeles in her future, but she does find value in her hometown.
“It’s important to, especially within the creative fields, to actively look for opportunities and seize them when they come,” Srinivasan says. “Because someone living in Dallas may be feeling like, ‘Oh maybe I should move to LA or move somewhere else to be in a creative environment.’ But there are so many resources within your own city that you may not even realize, and it’s just looking for them and being in the right time, right place and just finding those opportunities that will really get you places in the creative fields.”