Mindy Kaling reflects on making "The Mindy Project" as a woman of color

No doubt about it, comedian extraordinaire Mindy Kaling has made a major name for herself. And though The Mindy Project is coming to an end, Kaling still has many exciting, major projects coming up. Like, Champions, A Wrinkle in Time, and Ocean’s Eight. Right about now, you might be wondering: What is her secret to success?

Thankfully, Mindy Kaling spilled on the matter at PaleyFest’s Fall TV Preview event for The Mindy Project.

“There are so many young people, in particular, who come up to me and say, how did you get to where you did? I think, honestly, a big part of it is to have almost no self-reflective ability at all,” Kaling explained, with a laugh. “Just look forward until the next assignment, the next battle.”

“I was never this way on The Office. I never looked back, while it was happening, on what I learned because I felt like self-reflection is for the elderly, when they won’t hire you anymore and you can just sit and do everything.”

Mindy Kaling The Mindy Project
Jordin Althaus / Hulu

She added that she isn’t that sentimental of a person, to which Ike Barinholtz agreed. He told a story about how they were discussing one of Mindy and Morgan’s final scenes. Barinholtz was crying by the end of the call and he asked if she was too, but alas — she was dry-eyed.

“I feel like I have these hyper-masculine qualities,” Kaling joked. “People are asking what it means to me at the end of the show. What I’m hoping is, whenever I’ve experienced trauma in my life, I tend to just kind of go through it instead of letting myself sit in it because it would be too painful. So, come Thanksgiving time I might be a huge wreck.”

Kaling went on to address what the show meant, coming from a woman of color.

“I did not think I wanted it to make an impact,” Kaling said. “When I made the show, there were no women of color who were stars of their own show. There was not even a man of color…since like, I don’t even remember when. Now, my favorite shows [have women in the lead]. It was scarier back then. Now, things move so quickly. Now, it doesn’t seem as scary.”

She also addressed the pressure she felt in the making of her show.

“[There’s] this feeling of like, ‘Okay, well, you’re going to represent all dark-skinned Asian women on this show.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t want to! I want my character to be wild and do bad things,’ and the amount of pushback we got from that… ‘I want to play a comic character. I don’t want to write funny character parts for everybody else.’ That was all a hard learning experience.”

And it’s something that she’s still going through today, sometimes “feeling that you’re letting down people [whose] opinion means the most to you, which is women — particularly women of color. And so, that is going to continue for the rest of my life, I think, because of the way that I look.”

We’re so glad that the TV landscape has improved, and that there are now many more women of color working in front of and behind the camera (Issa Rae, anyone?). That said, there’s still room for improvement, so let’s keep this going, Hollywood.

And Mindy Kaling, we can’t wait to watch The Mindy Project Season 6 — and see what you do next.

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