Mindy Kaling: ‘When You’re a Person of Color, Your Existence On-Screen Is Political’

by Yah Yah

Mindy Kaling first became a household name since starring as Kelly Kapoor in the American mockumentary sitcom television series,” The Office.”

Since her time on the NBC series, Kaling’s career has gone from strength to strength, but even as successful as she has become, she recognizes what her presence on the screen represents.

“I just wanted my lead to be as big of a comedy character as Michael [Scott],” Kaling said of her time on the show. Kapoor not only starred in the show, she also wrote, produced and directed several episodes.

“When you’re a person of color, you’re inherently political,” Kaling said at the Teen Vogue Summit. “So your existence on screen is political.”

More recently, Kaling penned and executive produced the coming-of-age Netflix comedy series, “Never Have I Ever,” starring Maitreyi Ramakrishnan. The show is a confirmed smash, but Kaling has often spoken about the hurdles she’s faced in her journey to the top.

Speaking to HelloGiggles this summer, she opened up about the “minority myth.”

“My entire adult life has been trying to unlearn stuff that I learned as a young woman, like the model minority myth, the myth that there can only be one [minority person],” Kaling told the publication. “These are things that get ingrained in you because there are so few of us who get these kinds of jobs.”

Early on in her career, she was worried that she would lose her job if another minority person were hired. “That’s the truth for a lot of people,” she said, “Like when there is more than one minority person, they do get fired because [production is] like, ‘Oh, we have our token, we’re fine.'”

Kaling is proud to have been able to open up doors for Ramakrishnan and other aspiring actors of color.

“The fact that she went from a girl who was a high schooler in Toronto to then on the cover of Time Magazine and Teen Vogue less than two years later is really incredible,” Kaling gushed. “She’s such a natural; she’s so great on the show and such a great collaborator.”

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