Mindy Kaling From “The Office” Was Born Into a Family of Indian Immigrants and Couldn’t Imagine Becoming an Oscar-Nominated Star
Mindy Kaling became famous for her role as Kelly Kapoor on the sitcom The Office. But few know that she’s the one who made the show what we know it to be. Mindy also worked as an executive producer, director, and writer for the sitcom. She wrote more episodes for it than anyone else on the team, and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for her work. To achieve such success, Mindy had to not only work hard, but also fight against discrimination and body-shaming.
Mindy grew up in the US, but she has Indian roots.
Vera Mindy Chokalingam was born in the state of Massachusetts to immigrant parents from India. Her father worked as an architect, and her mother was an obstetrician-gynecologist. They moved to the United States in 1979, and their daughter Vera was born the same year. She was given her first name in honor of an incarnation of the Hindu goddess, and her second name was chosen because her parents wanted a “cute American name” for their daughter and they liked Mindy from the TV show Mork and Mindy. Later on, her family always called her by her middle name. Additionally, for the stage, the actress shortened her last name slightly to make it easier for the hosts of the stand-up shows where she performed to pronounce.
Although the future actress grew up in fairly privileged conditions and attended a private school as a child, she still notes that the “everyone against me” mentality is what she learned as a child of immigrants. In 2001, Mindy graduated from Dartmouth College with a bachelor’s degree in playwriting, and during her studies, she worked as an intern on Conan O’Brien’s show. After moving to New York, she performed in theater and stand-up, but her true breakthrough awaited her on television.
Her character in The Office was an exaggerated version of Mindy herself.
At the age of 24, Mindy joined the writing team of The Office, where she was the only woman in a team of 8 people. In the process, Kaling took on the role of Kelly Kapoor, debuting in the show’s second episode titled Diversity Day, which played on inclusivity among employees. According to the actress, Kelly is an exaggerated version of what other colleagues and writers perceive her personality to be.
During the production of The Office, Mindy not only became a writer and actress, but also a producer and director. Her directorial debut was in season 6 with the episode titled Body Language, and she took on producing duties after signing a contract for the show’s 8th season. Along with her colleagues, Mindy was nominated for an Emmy Award 5 years in a row for their outstanding comedy series. However, she faced discrimination when they wanted to exclude her from the list of producers because there were too many. To gain recognition, she had to write an essay about her contributions.
She had problems because of her appearance.
In addition to discrimination she faced throughout the early stages of her career, Mindy also experienced body-shaming. She admits that even in her youth, she was not thin at all, which made her young years quite difficult in the television industry.
Kaling often compared herself to others and worried that she didn’t look the way society expected her to. She considered herself a “dark-skinned Indian who isn’t even traditionally beautiful for Indians, like Bollywood stars with light green eyes or something.” However, Mindy notes that a positive aspect of that difficult time is that now, approaching 40 years old, she has no huge expectations or obsessive ideas about maintaining her beauty.
She’s called “the triple threat” in Hollywood.
After getting familiar with all aspects of the production process on The Office set, Mindy tried herself in different roles, and in 2012, she solidified her success by presenting her own comedy series, The Mindy Project. Kaling wrote the script for the show and played the lead role.
In addition to writing and acting, Mindy served as a producer for the show, making her a “triple threat in Hollywood.” That’s what they call people who have a huge influence on movie and TV production by simultaneously serving as a writer, star, and producer of the project. Later, she repeatedly confirmed her status, such as working on the movie Late Night with Emma Thompson.
She became the Oscar red carpet star in her black-and-white outfit.
Criticism of her appearance did not stop Mindy from expressing herself. According to her, she has always loved to dress up and do her makeup, and at some point, she fell in love with photo shoots and began posting her best looks on Instagram. At the last Oscars ceremony, Mindy surprised everyone by showing up in a black and white dress by Vera Wang. She arrived at the ceremony in a structured white outfit with visible boning in the bodice and a peplum ruffle at the hip. And then she shocked everyone by coming out to announce the winner in the same dress, but in black.
Mindy’s example can be called incredibly inspiring. Despite facing discrimination, she managed to achieve incredibly success in the television industry and release several successful series. She was not stopped by criticism of her appearance. It doesn’t affect her feeling attractive on the red carpet and expressing herself by wearing fantastically beautiful outfits.