Most people know Bill Nye the Science Guy. Well, Texas has its own science booster of sorts, but she is what the Dallas Observer called "the hipper, more accessible Bill Nye for the digital generation."
Sahana Srinivasan is a University of Texas at Austin senior who was born in Houston, raised in Dallas and is the daughter of engineers. Her Netflix science show "Brainchild" has made her one of the fastest-rising young celebrities in streaming TV.
Srinivasan says she auditioned to host the show by working with an agent and doing a demo episode in her bedroom. The producers picked her, and then she went to New York to tape the show.
"[It] was a very dramatic change, compared to being in Texas," Srinivasan says.
But Srinivasan has been auditioning for roles for years, since she was a young teen. She says there's a lot of uncertainty in the TV world; some shows never make it. But she had a good feeling about "Brainchild."
"I just really connected with the script, and it was fun and entertaining and educational at the same time," Srinivasan says. "Just feeling connected to it – that took precedence over me expecting anything of the show. I was just excited about the script itself."
She says she hopes "Brainchild" becomes an iconic science show – something like "Beakman's World," which aired in the 1990s. But Srinivasan says one thinks what sets "Brainchild" apart from past science shows is that it's hosted by a woman.
"Bill Nye and 'Beakman's World,' all those were male-dominated," Srinivasan says. "I think this is really cool and inspiring for young girls to see."
Srinivasan says people seem to like the show because it assumes they're intelligent.
"Kids are smart and they know a lot more thank you think. It's important to speak to them like they have those credits and merit in order for them to listen to you," Srinivasan says.
She says the show does that with well-written jokes. It also does that by having Srinivasan, as host, act as a big-sister-like character who explains complicated things in easy-to-understand ways.
"I do seem like your older sister just talking to you about fun facts," Srinivasan says.
Srinivasan is a booster for STEM education, and "Brainchild" only enhances her ability to be an example for young women, and people of color, to go into science, technology, engineering and math fields. But she says she doesn't want people to focus too much on her Indian-American heritage.
"There are so many other standout features like the fact that I have a fun personality, or am funny, or unique – all of those, I think, to me, matter even more," Srinivasan says. "I really do care about my heritage ... but instead of being just an inspiration to Indian people, I want to inspire people regardless of where they come from."
Srinivasan is finishing up an undergraduate degree program in radio, television and film at UT, and she says when she's done, she'd like to make her own films, sketches and even music videos. But she says beyond the technical skills she's learned, film school has also taught her interpersonal skills like teamwork, patience and resilience that she can apply to any career path.
"There's no better way to learn it other than being on set and getting that experience," Srinivasan says.
She says she doesn't know yet if there will be a second season of "Brainchild," or if she would be the host. But she says her fans could possibly help make that happen.
"Tell [Netflix] that it's awesome, if you really like it. They'll definitely love the positive feedback," Srinivasan says.
Written by Caroline Covington.