Share via Email 'When I'm at home, it's like a quiet cathedral of relaxation and thoughtfulness': Mindy Kaling Mindy Kaling rushes into the restaurant loaded with so many bags it looks as if she's playing the part of a frantic shopper. She immediately apologies for the venue, a glitzy sushi joint in New York's SoHo that is, as she puts it, quite "Ashton Kutcher, " she chose it as she's staying next door.
She's been to collect the gifts she received at a book signing the night before, which include a fan-made T-shirt with her face on it and boxes of cupcakes. I think companies make a Venn diagram of people who like me and people who like cupcakes. We did an episode of The Mindy Project where one of the lines is, 'You can't send a winky face, it's like emoji porn.
This is why I like Instagram so much. It's like Etsy exploded in my bag. She has the high, sing-song tone of a teenage girl and in this case, the reference points, too. But the real Mindy is deceptively steely. She's smart, decisive and tough. She is in charge of The Mindy Project, after all — she is its creator and showrunner, as well as its star. And she loves being the boss. Kaling cut her teeth on the US version of The Office , first as a writer, then an actor, then a director.
And Other Concerns , from which she was reading last night. She lives in LA now, but there's one thing she misses about New York, the city she first moved to after graduating from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. In Hollywood, there are heads of studios who are women, but in terms of running your own show, it's not that high a percentage. Getty Kaling recalls watching a panel with the director Judd Apatow where he discussed Girls , on which he is an executive producer. But Judd had a question about black people on the show, and he goes: A woman says that and it's immediately the headline.
It became the juiciest soundbite of a woman that was going out of control with anger and blind fury. At a red-carpet event last year, she was questioned over what colour man she prefers to date. Her cover of Elle magazine became a discussion about why it was a crop of her face, not her body.
Kaling could refuse to stop talking about the "issues", of course, but she's smart enough to realise that it is nowhere near as simple as that. It's important for me to be someone people look up to — most directly, minority girls who want to do what I do. Maybe it's narcissistic, but I think it's important. She knows she's lucky to have skipped the depressive gene most comedians are saddled with and says her disposition is "kind of cheerful". Ultimately, she reasons, her achievements should stand for themselves.
Two of them are dark-skinned women. But the same articles are not written about shows that literally do not have a series-regular of colour. These are shows — and it kills me — that are doing much, much better than mine. Many, many more people are watching them, so, of course, that becomes a frustration. When I read Kaling's book, I came away with the impression of a hard-working careerist who has lived a relatively charmed life, getting her big break young, seemingly untouched by failure.
She admits that from the outside, it must appear that way. Her father, an architect, and her mother, a doctor, moved from India to Africa before finally settling in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and were supportive of her comedy ambitions. I know that's what entertainment can do at its very best.
They took it to LA, where she became a staff writer on The Office at the age of In the US version of The Office. Getty There were bumps along the way. That network is no longer on the air, and The Office went on to be one of NBC's most hit shows in years. I feel like karmically, I was vindicated, but at the time it felt terrible. She was given dispensation to try out for the legendary sketch show by The Office boss Greg Daniels , on the condition she would not accept a writing job, only a performing one.
Lorne [Michaels] thought I was funny and offered me a job as a writer… But Greg said: She loves her friend Lena Dunham 's Girls — "where people find it depressing in places, I find it fearless, because I have not seen that before" — though she admits to being "too prudish" for it at times.
In her recent Elle cover story, she joked it took "13 dates" to get her into bed. Is she a bit of a small-c conservative about sex? There's a difference between wanting it, which applies to every human, and it happening, which is what cable shows. It is a different thing altogether. She thinks about it. One reason, she considers, is that she's "living my life's dream" on The Mindy Project, where she interacts with hundreds of people every day.
So, real people are hard to live up to when you're a writer who creates eligible single men. In Kaling's book there's an essay called "Chubby for Life", in which she recalls being called fat at school, and how she loves eating and dieting. It's a frank exploration of a topic that considers both sides, when we're much more used to polemics. Kaling is happy in her body in many ways, and in others she is not. During our lunch, she brings up how she feels that other people are more fixated on her body than she is — "even when they're writing in support of me, in the kindest, sweetest, most body-confident feminist way" — but then talks about her enormous appetite, and refers to herself as "chubby" or "not a thin woman" several times.
I find myself asking why she thinks she's chubby, when she clearly, well, isn't. But I think of myself as chubby. Maybe I have tough standards about women's bodies," she wonders, not sounding particularly convinced by her own explanation. When I was younger, I already went through that.
I know it's much harder to do the things I've done than it is to lose weight and be thin. How could I be offended by someone who talks about what you look like? I wouldn't even deem you a person I'd speak to.
There was nothing, you were starving. Now it's like, Breaking Bad ends and look, House of Cards is on. What a delight that is. She responds to every other question by starting, "It's interesting to me…" which would be easy to dismiss as a conversational tic, were it not for the fact that she is genuinely fascinated by all facets of life, from Kim Kardashian 's flying attire "I admire her luggage" to The Golden Girls "There's not a weak link in that cast, it's like Seinfeld.
What we can hope for is this: