Indian-American actress Mindy Kaling has been a comedy queen on the small screen for a few years now. Her stint as Kelly Kapoor for eight years on “The Office” and now as Dr. Mindy Lahiri on her Hulu show “The Mindy Project” proves her genius as an actress and a writer.
To re-cap on the many ways we love this diva, we wrote down a list, in no particular order, of course.
1. Representing the South Asian Diaspora
Kaling is often referenced as the pioneer for changing the Indian stereotype in American pop culture. She has a great way of not limiting her characters to the cliches of characters like Apu from “The Simpsons.” Her characters are fearless and outspoken. At the same time, she also aims to find ties to her roots in different forms—ones those often feel relatable to the diaspora here.
In “The Office,” she wrote a season 3 episode called “Diwali.” Her character Kelly invites the whole staff to celebrate the festival, which is mistaken by them as the Indian Halloween. We get a glimpse into her family life as we meet her parents and siblings. The episode also addresses arranged marriages and interracial relationships.
These are issues also seen on “The Mindy Project,” which Kaling acts in, writes, and produces. Most recently, her character’s son Leo undergoes the Mundan ceremony. We are introduced to her funky, adorable parents and sibling. She tries to understand the importance of having Indian friends in America.
These are things the viewers here do not know much about so it’s great that Kaling, in her own way, brings them to light. She doesn’t need to focus each episode on her ethnicity. As she has said, it’s not “The Indian Girl Project.” So we are glad when she lets her character explore unknown cultural roots.
2. Her Writing
Kaling has written two successful books. “Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me” was released in 2012. The book is a mix between a memoir and a collection of fascinating, funny thoughts. “Why Not Me” came out in 2015 and was almost like a sequel to the first book.
Through these two, we get insight into the struggles she had to go through growing up and when she tried to get a break in Hollywood. We understand the behind-the-scenes workings of the shows she is a part of.
She also speaks of her personal life in those books, something she rarely does in public or on social media. Her writing is wacky and we’ve seen that on her shows but the books is a great source to learn about the inner mind of Mindy Kaling.
3. Her Flawless Style
As a beautiful actress in Hollywood, it’s only obvious that she gets to wear clothes by famous designers. Ah, the perks. Her favorite designer, Salvador Perez, has often said he is proud of the outfits he creates for Kaling. He even works for her character Mindy Lahiri’s outfits. On the show, Lahiri is often seen wearing bright prints, polka dots, funky colors — all of which Kaling pulls of easily. In fact, both Kaling and Perez were at The Grove in Los Angeles because her costumes from the show were featured in a runway fashion show. They discussed her unique style among other things.
Fashion show! Fashion show! Fashion show at lunch! pic.twitter.com/WA6kKMlWfR
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) June 12, 2016
Personally, Kaling often shares images on her social media of her flawless gowns and other clothes.
Her bold style choices on the show and in real life matter because she breaks the ‘perfect body’ norms and wears her clothes confidently and with pride. We definitely need more confident women in the world of all shapes, sizes and skin tones!
4. She is the Boss
Kaling is the creator of “The Mindy Project,” which obviously means she is the boss. She’s also the lead actress. And she is part of the talented writing team. Even when it came to “The Office,” Kaling not only starred on the show but also wrote episodes and even directed a couple of them.
Clearly, she can don several hats like a champion. She makes sure her character stays that way too.
Lahiri, an OB-GYN, not only worked in her own practice with two doctors but also started a fertility clinic. She is a working mom who paid no heed to her fiance’s demand that she stop working and they try for another baby lightly. If that is not inspiring, what is?
5. She is Hilarious on Social Media
There is only one way to prove this:
can u will a person to email you? I hope u can
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) June 1, 2016
When you’re still on a massive email chain you asked politely to be removed from pic.twitter.com/y9kgIrm9pz
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) April 20, 2017
As I get older, I find the most common form of happiness is relief. If I’m relieved that’s as good as it gets. Being an adult is hard.
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) April 10, 2017
My greatest fear, that my sweatshirt that says “la playa” on it would be misunderstood as “L.A. Playa”, was realized pic.twitter.com/VvExYLOs1S
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) May 23, 2016
6. Her Movie Career is Always Building
While she is known for her small screen personas, Kaling has been working in movies as well. Her first one was “The 40 Year Old Virgin” in 2005. Since then, she has appeared in “Despicable Me,” “No Strings Attached,” “The Five-Year Engagement,” “This is the End,” “The Night Before.” She voiced the character of Disgust in the Oscar-winning film of 2015, “Inside Out.”
And for the best part, Kaling will be part of the crew in the all-female retooling of “Oceans Eleven,” starring alongside Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, and Helena Bonham Carter. We are already excited to watch this one.
7. She Knows When to get Real
Kaling has often responded to various criticisms towards herself or her shows.
People ask where Mindy’s baby is when I’m on a dating story. He’s off playing w/the children on male-driven comedies no one ever asks about.
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) May 25, 2016
Her biggest critique is that her show is not diverse and that Mindy Lahiri dates only white guys. Only in the most recent, fourth season did Lahiri date an Indian and an African-American after she split up with her Italian-American boyfriend Danny Castellano (played with perfection by Chris Messina).
To this, her response was:
“I always think it’s funny that I’m the only [one] asked about this, when sitcoms I love with female leads rarely date men of color. I guess white women are expected to date white men. I’m expected to ‘stick to my own.’”
She also hates comparisons to other Indian actresses.
Sad that there can only be one of us succeeding. I love Priyanka’s work. https://t.co/VaJiEJ0eNY
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) November 13, 2015
Keep being awesome Mindy because we’re loving it!