The Magic of Mindy
By Marcy Driehaus
The entertainment world is bursting with funny, creative women who are changing the face of comedy. A frontrunner in this movement is fireball Mindy Kaling, creator of The Mindy Project on Fox.
Cambridge, Massachusetts gained a new little star the day that Mindy Kaling was born on June 24, 1979. Her mother, a gynecologist and father, an architect, had originally named their first daughter Vera Chokalingam, but decided they would nickname her “Mindy” due to their love for the popular sitcom, Mork and Mindy. In addition to that, they also wanted to make sure that their daughter was well equipped for her life in America with a name she would fit in with, but Kaling proved that she was born to stand out either way.
In college, Kaling primarily occupied her time involving herself with an improvisational comedy troupe called “The Dog Day Players”. Through this, she was able to become familiar with the ever-changing world of comedy. Graduating from Dartmouth College in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in playwriting, Kaling was ready to put this knowledge to use.
Though Kaling had made appearances in a smattering of different films starting in 2005, she is most commonly known for her work as Kelly Kapor in the The Office, which ran from 2005-2013. Though she has played somewhat of a ditsy materialistic girl onscreen, Kaling’s real life personality is one of strength and determination. This determination undoubtedly shows through her efforts towards writing and starring in her own hit sitcom, The Mindy Project. Not only that, but Kaling’s writing has also made headway with the popularity of her book titled, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Kaling has also written for Saturday Night Live and has helped write over 30 episodes of The Office. Through these creative outlets, Kaling is able to really show the world just how versatile and talented she is, despite how much she has working against her as a minority. Kaling trudges through the haze of oppression that floats around her and goes as far as to state that “Nothing gives you confidence like being a member of a small, weirdly specific, hard-to-find demographic.”
Kaling’s activism always shines through in interviews when she pushes the boundaries and makes certain that her voice is heard. In an interview with fellow actress Lena Dunham, Kaling mentioned that, “More than half the questions I am asked are about the politics of the way I look. What it feels like to be not skinny/dark-skinned/a minority/not conventionally pretty/female/etc. It’s not very interesting to me, but I know it’s interesting to people reading an interview.”
The way that Kaling sheds light on the hard-hitting issues in a witty and relatable way really emphasizes her overall call to action and longing for equality. She’s made it clear that, “I never want to be called the funniest Indian female comedian that exists. I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there. Why would I want to self-categorize myself into a smaller group than I’m able to compete in?” We can all learn from Kaling’s prominent activism and refusal to conform to the restrictions set upon her.