April 29, 2022
Kevin Gnapoor came out of nowhere. Fifteen minutes into Tina Fey’s cult classic Mean Girls (2004), lead character Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) is leaving her high school math class in hot pursuit of her tall and typical man crush when a classmate she’s likely never noticed stops her in her tracks. The wiry Kevin Gnapoor stands eye-to-eye with Cady, though his hair gives him extra height. He introduces himself as the captain of the North Shore mathletes, a team that competes in math contests against schools across the state. He wants Cady to join, specifically because having a girl will double the team’s funding, and leaves her with his card.
It reads: “KEVIN GNAPOOR, MATH ENTHUSIAST / BAD-ASS M.C.”
This scene, and tagline, is how audiences first meet Kevin Gnapoor, played by then-unknown Canadian actor Rajiv Surendra. Based on Roseland Wiseman’s nonfiction guide to “the new realities of girl world” Queen Bees and Wannabes, Mean Girls became a surprise box office success, earning over $24 million on just its opening weekend against a $17 million budget. The cast was stacked with Saturday Night Live alum — it was, after all, a production from SNL creator Lorne Michaels — including Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, and Ana Gasteyer. The lead actor was rising star Lindsay Lohan (known then for Freaky Friday and Parent Trap), but the movie also created an entirely new crop of celebrities. Kevin Gnapoor, also known as Kevin G., was one of the film’s biggest breakout characters — and one that continues to delight.
In 2004, when Mean Girls was released, it was easy to write off Kevin as a minor side character at best and at worst, yet another Asian nerd stereotype. But like so many of us, Kevin G. was misunderstood when we first saw him in high school. In fact, the math enthusiast and badass M.C. was ahead of his time.