June 24, 2015
As we continue to celebrate bold women with bold voices, we turn the spotlight to actress, comedian and writer Mindy Kaling. After becoming a household name with the critically acclaimed television series The Office, Kaling has since turned her focus to writing and producing The Mindy Project, a romantic comedy television series on Hulu. We had a chance to catch up with Kaling at NM Beverly Hills where she shared the inspiration behind her creation and how being a woman has influenced her work as a comedy writer.
NM: Describe the inspiration behind The Mindy Project?
MK: Before The Mindy Project I was on a show called The Office. This is where I learned to write copy. The Mindy Project is almost a reaction to The Office. The shows are so different, besides both being comedies. The Mindy Project is a show about love and dating starring a single woman in her thirties living in Manhattan. It couldn’t be more different than the office in terms of set and subject matter, but I wanted to do something different and I love romance.
NM: The Mindy Project intelligently touches on work/life balance as well as image and gender issues. What is one cause that you feel is worth “Making Noise” about today?
MK: I think reproductive rights are so important, and obviously I think that most people would choose to agree with that. If you are a woman who is of means, living in Los Angeles, like I am, you are not someone who has to worry about your reproductive rights being injured or encroached upon. But if you are a 16-year-old girl who lives in an economically depressed area in the United States that’s not L.A., it is a plenty different story. My friend Lena Dunham is a big supporter of Planned Parenthood and so am I. That’s very important to me.
NM: Describe your character’s personal style.
MK: My character Mindy is a person who although isn’t a size zero, she’s not going to be told she can’t wear certain things. While she rarely talks about her clothing on the show, her clothes speak a language that evolves while you’re watching the story unfold. I think this is really fun and really aspirational for women watching it. Her style is very bold. Today I am wearing one of her costumes that Sal created for the show. I am a comedy writer, so I came to work wearing torn jeans, Adidas and a grey T-shirt. When I put this on I was like, “Oh, what a gift!” To be able to put this on and be in a real costume, not like so many other shows, this is an actual costume!
NM: Describe your closet in three words.
MK: Messy, teeming and colorful.
NM: How much does being a woman influence your work?
MK: It’s hard to say. There are some aspects of my personality that are very straightforwardly traditionally “feminine,” but I also have aspects of my personality that are very traditionally “masculine.” I don’t know—it’s a great question. Overall, I think women tend to like romance, and I like writing about it.