Actor Profile: A Look Into the “Mindy-Verse”

By: Merchys Diaz 

If I ever had the chance to meet Mindy Kaling in person, I would ask her how it feels knowing women everywhere want to be her best friend. This fandom not only comes from the characters she’s portrayed on TV or in her movies, but it’s also due to the work she’s done behind the screen and the candid memoirs she’s released about her life. Known for her iconic role as Kelly Kapoor in the American Sitcom The Office (2005-2013), Kaling has often talked about her experience as the first woman of color in the writer’s room for the show. Popular episodes written by Kaling such as “Niagara” and “Branch Wars” have received prestigious awards and nominations for outstanding writing. 

Kaling departed from The Office after season eight and her popularity continued to skyrocket. Kaling launched her production company Kaling International in 2012. She wrote several memoirs, wrote and starred in Amazon’s Late Night (2019), produced Hulu’s Four Weddings and a Funeral miniseries (2019), and became part of several A-list film ensembles such as Ocean’s Eight (2018). Whether it’s on or behind the screen, it seems like the work never stops for Kaling. Her upbringing has much to do with her work ethic, as Kaling was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to two hardworking parents who migrated from India in 1979. Her father is a doctor and an architect, and her mother is an OB/GYN who willingly repeated her residency when she and her husband moved to the United States. 

With her production company, Kaling hopes to continue to voice the stories of the inner lives of women of color; something that has long been missing from Hollywood and entertainment media. She co-wrote and starred in FOX’s (and later Hulu’s) Emmy nominated series, The Mindy Project (2012-2017), where she plays a successful New York OB/GYN who endures many obstacles when it comes to her love life. Two of her most recent projects are the popular Netflix comedy series Never Have I Ever (2020), and HBO’s comedy series The Sex Lives of College Girls (2021-Present). Never Have I Ever was heavily inspired by childhood stories told in Kaling’s memoirs, and The Sex Lives of College Girls is a nostalgic rendition of Kaling’s time as an undergraduate at Dartmouth University. 

What’s remarkable about Mindy Kaling is that she understands the needs of today’s audience. Two of her biggest hits are about cliques of young and diverse women that shine a light on current issues of money, class, race, and sexuality. This could explain why people, especially women, connect with these characters in such a strong way. Nevertheless, based on the success of her past and current projects, we can expect that this entertainment universe of Kaling’s creation will continue to present diverse voices and stories for our times. 

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