Mohana Krishnan with costars.
TTUISD student lands role in new Nickelodeon show.
by Lucy Worley
May 2, 2017
Mohana Krishnan is not yet a household name, but the 15 year-old's drive, charisma and self-confidence make her hard to ignore.
Mohana knew from day one that she wanted to be an actress. With the help of Texas Tech University Independent School District (TTUISD) her dream has become a reality. Mohana will appear in Nickelodeon's newest television show, “I Am Frankie,” which is set to premiere later this year.
“I remember growing up, I would watch my favorite television shows and think, ‘I want to do that one day,'” Mohana said. “It was more than just wanting to be on television. I wanted to make people smile after a hard day.”
After her first play in the fourth grade, Mohana took on her next challenge – convincing her parents to enroll her in film class. They told her if she joined the community theatre and showed dedication there, they would consider it.
Mohana showed them something that bordered between dedication and obsession. From sixth through eighth grade she poured thousands of hours into late night rehearsals for productions with her local theatre. Mohana appeared in numerous productions such as “Schoolhouse Rock,” “The Little Mermaid” (in which she played the role of Flounder), and “Annie,” to name just a few.
As Mohana approached high school, her parents recognized the determination she possessed was only growing stronger. They enrolled her in film classes and within six months she was picked up by a local talent agency for representation.
Not long into the process, Mohana started sending in audition tapes for “I Am Frankie.”
“I must have shot about three separate audition tapes and sent them all in before I heard that I was a finalist for one of the characters,” Mohana said. “The next step was traveling to shoot an in-person screen test. During this process, I would run lines with other finalists. The casting directors and producers would then look for which of us possessed the best on-screen chemistry.”
Mohana was back home in Texas in December of 2016 when her mom picked up the call. “Both my lawyer and my agent were on the phone, and my mom had a big smile on her face. That is when it hit me that I must have gotten the role.”
Immediately, Mohana and her family started preparing for the three months she would need to be in Miami to shoot Season One of the show.
“We found out that my school would not be able to send work with me, so we had to find something more flexible. My dad came across TTUISD after doing some research and it was a really good fit for me.”
Having a self-paced curriculum was a necessity.
“My schedule on set was very unpredictable. We would get our call time the night before, and it could vary between 7:00am to 11:00am. Whenever I arrived in the morning, I would get in hair and make-up and then start on schoolwork. If they called you for a scene you would go and do that, and then go back to studying. Some days I shot scenes for 10 hours, other days I was not called at all. So having a curriculum that was self-paced was really important,” Mohana said.
Even though leaving her school in Texas was bittersweet, Mohana hasn't missed a moment of socializing.
“Everyone on set was more-or-less using an online curriculum so we became very close since none of us were attending a regular school,” Mohana said. “For three months we pretty much did everything together. From shooting scenes, to running lines, studying at our apartments, or going out to eat; we all really enjoyed spending time together.”
Recently having finished shooting Season One, Mohana is now back home in Texas. It will be a matter of the show's success before Mohana finds out if she'll be reuniting with her new friends for a second season.
“I want to see if we'll shoot a second season. From there I will take it one day at a time,” Mohana told us.
The fifteen year-old will stay busy in the meantime. Along with finishing up her TTUISD classes for the semester, she is glad to be back with her friends from home and is looking forward to returning to a normal routine.
“I love spending time with my friends and going to the mall or having sleepovers. It will be nice to do that again. I also play piano so I am back in lessons.”
Mohana's parents have also returned to their routine.
“My mother is a business analyst and luckily she was able to bring her work on the road with us. I felt so supported by my whole family throughout this process. Even though my mom was the only one who came to Miami with me, my dad got to visit us twice and my older sister spent her spring break with us.”
The only one unable to visit the Sunshine State was the family dog Max – who Mohana is very glad to be reunited with.
When asked about her professional aspirations for the future, Mohana said, “I am pretty focused on wanting to work in television at this point. When you shoot a movie, you get to know everyone for a few months and then move on. I like working in television because you collaborate and work with the same people over a long period of time. The storyline can be more complex and character development has more time to play out,” Mohana said.
Even though Mohana's professional future is a bit of a question mark for the time being, her drive and desire to make people smile is even stronger than it was when she started.
“I want to have an acting career that inspires others. My ethnicity is not a common one in this business. I am Indian-American and a lot of the shows out there have casts that are primarily Caucasian. I hope my career will inspire others out there to realize they do not need to look like anybody but themselves. I hope I can bring more diversity to the business,” Mohana said.