Photo: Courtesy of FOX.
We don't need to tell you that Mindy Kaling does not work in the Financial District — trust, we would know — or in construction or law enforcement. But, on behalf of all women killing it in a male-dominated field, Kaling's not only setting an example, she's raised the bar. This perhaps begins to explain why we were a bit intimidated to speak with her last week.
For the past couple years, we've had it in our minds that the hysterical and sharp-as-a-tack actress/writer/producer (in most cases, if there's a slash in your title, we're already a bit intimidated), whose movies we've watched, book we read, and TV show is always queued up on our Hulu accounts, was about to confirm one of two things: Either we've gone a bit fan-girl loopy, or Kaling is simply just as cool as she seems. We should have known that anyone who names her TV character after a Pulitzer Prize-winning author — Jhumpa Lahiri inspired the name for The Mindy Project's Dr. Lahiri — would not disappoint. Far from it.
Instead of chatting TV or even fashion, Kaling enlightened us quite a bit about what it takes to succeed in a field where women are represented in quality — Gilda Radner, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, for example — but simply not in quantity. "When I was hired at The Office for the first year, I was the only woman on staff. I had so many male mentors there, including Greg Daniels and Steve Carell. They were really my bosses for eight years," she said.
With strong female role models, including Lahiri, Fey, and her high school English teacher, Mrs. Hamilton ("[she] was the one who got me hooked on Jane Austen outside of Pride & Prejudice"), Kaling is not only a part of the comedy-industry boys' club, but after speaking with her, we think she's the future of it, as well. “Here’s my feeling: For everyone, men and women, it’s important to be a feminist. It’s important to have female characters. It’s wonderful for women to mentor other women, but it’s just as important for women to mentor men and vice-versa. In my line of work, having Greg Daniels be such a great mentor to me is fantastic. Finding a writer’s assistant, be it a man or a woman, and encouraging them to think with a feminist perspective, is key.”
We could not have said it better ourselves. And, quite frankly, what's most spot-on about her advice is how universal it feels to all industries of work, not just the funny business.
The Mindy Project airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. EST. Hint: That's tonight!