“Your secret is safe with me. Largely because I don’t care, and I’ll probably forget.”–Mindy Lahiri, “The Mindy Project”
As a future female filmmaker myself (say that 3 times fast), I will be writing about some of the women in film I look up to. And, I thought, why not start off big? Why not start by writing about the person in the industry who I probably idolize the most? Well, here it goes! Mindy Kaling, this one’s for you! To most, Kaling is most known for playing the hilariously vain Kelly Kapoor on The Office and the brilliant mind behind “The Mindy Project” and its titular character, Mindy Lahiri. Oh, she might also be known for being the voice of Disgust in the Oscar-winner Pixar movie, Inside Out, but I don’t know. But, to me, she is more than the characters she has played. Kaling is the women who has been a part of writing some of the funniest shows on television. She is the creator whose work and career I admire and here’s why:
First of all, I’m pretty sure that the way she started her career after college is what we all pray for. Not long after graduating from Dartmouth, Kaling was already on people’s horizon as she wrote and starred in the play, Matt and Ben, with her best friend Brenda. (Side note: one of my good friends is going to Stanford! This has absolutely nothing to do with Mindy. I just like to brag about my friend.) She literally wrote a play with her best friend about how best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote the Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting. Best friends writing a comedy about best friends! I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty epic way to jump in. Shortly after that, she became a part of the writing staff for the hilarious U.S version of The Office. The first woman on the staff, might I add! But she wasn’t just amazing as a writer. Kaling was a part of legendary cast as the iconic, meme-worthy, Ryan-obsessed Kelly Kapoor! The ultra-talented Mindy Kaling did all of this by the time she was 25. Twenty freaking five! She went from being a staff writer to being an excutive producer on the hit show. Talk about starting from the bottom and making it up to the big leagues! Kaling is a perfect example that working hard, putting yourself out there, and taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves can lead to a greater path.
Let’s get to my favorite and most significant part of Kaling’s career: The Mindy Project. After working on The Office for almost 10 years, Kaling made the transition to her next big project by creating, writing, and starring in her very own show! As a viewer, it’s one of my absolute favorite shows on television right now. Each of the characters are lovably ridiculous and imperfect in their own way, and I love to tune in to watch how Dr. Lahiri and company cause trouble each episode. And can I just mention how amazing the costumes are! (Mindy’s lemon dress in season 4 is my absolute favorite.) I loved Kaling as the ridiculously vain Mindy Lahiri, but learning more about what she did for the show as a whole when I was beginning to realize that I might want to enter the industry one day made her even more impressive. She’s the showrunner, she writes her show with a killer writing staff, she does casting, AND she stars as the lead role. With all of that alone, I wonder how she ever sleeps! And that’s probably not everything that she does! Isn’t that just amazing? Yes, Kaling is perfect as the main character, but her genuisly funny writing and her ability to be a leader and run a hit show is what is so inspiring to me and what I think she will go down in history of entertainment for. I can’t say that I’m a comedian like Kaling, but I hope that I can be the kind of creator and leader she is one day.
Kaling may be most known for her work on television, but her transition into film is probably one of the best ever seen. She’s done a lot of film before, like Wreck-It Ralph and my favorite cameo in This Is The End, but, from the outside, it looked like television was her focus. But, as she has become more and more popular for being one of the best comedic writers and actors, Hollywood seems to have finally opened their eyes to how amazing Kaling is. In 2018 alone, she has starring roles in Ocean’s Eight, the all-female version of Ocean’s Eleven that Kaling predicted would happen in her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), and Ava Duvernay’s film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time with Reese Witherspoon and Oprah. On top of all of that, she will be starring alongside Emma Thompson and producing a film about a female late night host. Oh, and she wrote the script, too, but no big deal. She’s not only working with the best, but she is one of the best! Kaling is proof that working hard to put out quality work, whether it’s as an actress or a writer, will eventually get people’s attention and lead to bigger and greater opportunities. I don’t know if it’s obvious in my entire blog post dedicated to her, but I am one of the people who would love to work with her.
The biggest reason I have come to see Kaling as an inspiration is a bit more personal. As a young, black female hoping to be a part of the film industry, it can be just a little discouraging not seeing too many people who look like me on screen or knowing that there are few people who look like me in the field. That being said, I don’t really plan on letting that stop me from doing my very best, and it’s pretty evident that Kaling hasn’t let the lack of South-Asian representation in television or film stop her. Kaling may recognize that her accomplishments are bigger than her as many women of color with big dreams and goals look up to her, but she describes herself as a creator, first and foremost. So, when I think about potentially being in a position where I am one of few, I look to Kaling’s career. I look to a woman who looks a lot more like me than most but has made a name for herself by her merit rather than her race. I look to someone who has shown her humor, wit, intelligence, and creativity in her work time and time again. I look to Kaling because she is one of the best, period. That, my friends, is why I love Mindy Kaling.
Through my eyes,