Jaren Lewison plays Ben Gross in the Netflix hit Never Have I Ever. Ben plays a major role as a rival/nemesis of his classmate Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan). Early in the series he seems to be a very stereotypically Jewish high-achieving student from a rich family (his dad works in the entertainment industry); but as the show goes on his character becomes more sensitive, lonely, and complex.
Jaren has been acting since he was a little kid, first on Barney & Friends. Let’s dive into 18 things to know about this Jewish actor!
1. He grew up in Dallas, Texas; he was born in December 2000. He has one sister, Mikayla.
2. In high school, he played football for Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas.
3. But not only was he on the football team, he also was involved with theater. (A Troy Bolton, if you will.) Here he is in the cast of Mamma Mia:
Our male dancers are looking 2 cute for our first tech rehearsal! Mamma Mia pic.twitter.com/wR08NY18Me
— Pearce Theatre (@pearcetheater) January 21, 2019
Shoutout to his dad on Twitter, @JasonLewison, for being very proud of his son and RT’ing everything. Also tweeting very proud things like this:
— Jason Lewison (@JasonLewison) September 1, 2018
5. He graduated high school in 2019.
6. Jaren went to Camp Champions, a summer camp in central Texas. (We figured this out by stalking his tagged photos, as one does.)
7. He currently attends University of Southern California, where he is in the class of 2024.
8. His first Instagram about college was naturally captioned, “College!” (All his Instagrams have the hashtag #rememberthefeeling for some reason??)
9. He starred in Tag, the 2018 film about a really long-running game of tag. Jaren played the teen version of Ed Helms’s character, Hogan.
10. He was on Barney from 2008 to 2009 (seasons 12 and 13) as Joshua. “I started when I was five. I was in some aftercare programs, because my mom’s a kindergarten teacher, and there was an improv group that came and they told my mom I was really into it. They gave my name to a local Dallas film and TV agent, and I wound up being on Barney as a kid and kept going from there,” Jaren said.
11. You can watch a small Jaren in this episode, “To Catch A Thief: A Mystery Adventure” (S12, ep6), his first Barney appearance (fast forward to 15 minutes to watch him):
12. His other TV/film credits include Away and Back, a 2015 Hallmark movie, and A Horse Tale, a horse movie.
13. He was cast on Never Have I Ever as Ben Gross, the teen series based on Mindy Kaling’s childhood.
“There’s some parts of Ben I can definitely relate to, and a lot of parts I did not experience in my personal life. I can relate to his vulnerable side. I’m very protective and loyal and into always being there for my friends, and you see that towards the end of the season with Ben. In terms of Ben’s academic pursuit of excellence, I also love school. I’m a student at USC,” he explained.
Here he is with the cast and Mindy:
14. On the first table read, Jaren wrote on Mindy’s Instagram, “I still remember the love and energy from that room. Absolutely amazing.”
He explained before they started shooting, “I did end up messaging [Maitreyi] on Instagram when I received the news that I was cast and saw her name, because her and I had just finished graduating high school. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m Jaren. I wanted to say what’s up and try and create a friendship, because it’s scary, being around the same age and being new to LA.’ Everybody met at the first table read, though I totally stalked everyone on Instagram.”
15. In his first post about the show, he wrote, “World, meet Ben Gross. So excited to finally announce my part in @neverhaveiever on @Netflix! Created by @MindyKaling & @LoulieLang: two of the most incredible women I know. 👑 I cannot wait for everyone to see this hilarious, witty, and touching story of a 15 year old Indian-American girl (Devi) navigating through high school. Played by the goofiest dude I know, @maitreyiramakrishnan 😈.”
16. Here are some very cute stills of him in Never Have I Ever:
17. He’s on TikTok as @JarenLewison, with only one video. Step it up!!!
18. He skis!
Instagram captions are very straightforward, we have to stan. #Rememberthefeeling!
Image of Jaren Lewison in header via Netflix.