What better way to spend a Sunday morning than in the presence of one of the funniest faces on television at the moment? Mindy Kaling of The Office and The Mindy Project fame came to Austin to partake in an ‘In Conversation’ session hosted by Marie Claire’s Anne Fuldwider and also featuring her cast mates Adam Pally and Ike Barinholtz.
Kaling was electrifying as ever, proving herself to be the spirit animal of many women in the packed out audience with her anecdotes, thoughts and comments on the topics which came up. The conversation revolved mainly around Kaling’s now well risen star status and the attention which surrounds her role as not only a successful female comic, but one who is of a culturally diverse background. I know it’s something that she’s probably gotten a lot and I did wonder if this line of questioning became frustrating at any point – turns out it has.
“I’m a fucking Indian woman who has her own fucking show!” Kaling vented, not maliciously mind, during the Q&A part of the session, drawing the crowd to the fact that her contemporaries including Tina Fey and Lena Dunham aren’t called out for casting decisions like she is (why Dr Mindy Lahiri is the only female doctor and the only cast member of colour in The Mindy Project etc). She delivered each response with heart and you can tell that, for the most part, Kaling is the kind of person who has accepted that this kind of thing comes with the trade.
Kaling and her cast mates were brilliant in their banter and sharing of stories from behind the scenes of The Mindy Project and discussed what goes on in their writers room, who influences what and Kaling’s approach to casting potential love interests, “I hire men to make out with, it’s like prostitution”. On her Indian heritage and what it means with regards to the development of career, Kaling admits that she doesn’t dwell on it too much.
“I can’t think of my legacy or whatever, because it stops me from being productive.”
If this In Conversation session was to posit Kaling as one of the frontrunners of this new ‘guard’ of female showrunners and comics, then it worked. Waves of people rushed to the stage to take photos of her as she bowed and took an awkward walk down the stairs, yelling her praises.