Mindy Kaling: People think I’m dumb because I like girly things


I love Mindy Kaling. Her publisher sent me an advanced copy of Mindy’s first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), and I just finished reading it last night. It’s a wonderful, light, frothy humor book that I would easily recommend to any girl, aged 14 to 50. Mindy is best known for writing and starring in The Office, but CB might also remember that Mindy first rose up to a certain kind of fame when she and a friend staged a two-woman play, Matt & Ben, all about what Matt Damon and Ben Affleck might really be like in real life. The book is basically a series of essays, and it totally reminded me of Tina Fey’s Bossypants, only Tina‘s was longer and she had “bigger” issues to discuss and more stuff to say.

Mindy doesn’t take herself too seriously, and she has an easy, conversational writing style, and I can admit that I giggled out loud at least once every two pages. I identified with Mindy, obviously because I’m half-Indian, but also because she was a dork for most of her childhood (as was I) and because she’s very happy to care deeply about superficial things, like clothes and celebrities, which, I mean. Come on. Look at me.

Since I normally don’t do book reviews beyond just generally recommending this book (I really did enjoy it), I thought I’d follow this up with an interview Mindy recently did with The Guardian. You can read the full piece here, and here are some highlights:

Salman Rushdie tweets her: Salman Rushdie sent her a tweet last month, congratulating her when her book was extracted in the New Yorker. Kaling tweeted back her appreciation, adding, “It goes without saying I loved your cameo in the Bridget Jones.” (Rushdie replied, “Ah yes, thank you. My most important work.” Kaling applauded him for being “a badass”.)

Fashion: “I love talking about clothes with women; it’s like a code because women dress for women.”

Writing and directing episodes of The Office: “I think doing that is a nice calling card for smartness,” she says coolly. “But I think people still think that I’m like my character, or that because I like girly things and I have a lilt in my voice that I’m dumb. But I don’t think you can be dumb and write a big chunk of a TV show.”

The Tina Fey comparisons: “It’s very hard to complain about someone saying you’re in Tina Fey’s immediate family,” she says. “But I do think it’s a little unfair that there’s never any debate about whether there’s room for Will Ferrell, Steve Carell and Aziz Ansari. But with women, it’s like, OK, Kristen Wiig is having a moment now, we’re done, we’ll put the rest of them on the backburner. And that’s just ridiculous.”

She’s seriously very girly: “I think of myself as a smart and funny person, but I am very girly, and in the past I’ve been hurt by people who criticise me for liking things they think are beneath me, like shopping or whatever, and the people who give me the hardest time about it are women. I think it may be because there are so few women in comedy and so there’s a feeling that we shouldn’t sell women out, but I don’t see talking about fashion as selling women out.”

Being Indian: “I always say, I don’t deny being Indian and I don’t rely on it. My dad’s whole family is in Madras and I was born in America so we didn’t have that big Indian community. I don’t really have anything interesting to say about it. When I talk about it people are like, meh, let’s talk about something else.” Kaling, whose real last name is Chokalingam, was born in the United States, the daughter of a gynaecologist mother and an architect father. She described herself as a nerdy and studious student, who would happily spend her weekends watching The Golden Girls with her mother (even today, her mother comes second on her list of favourite people to spend time with, after “all of my female friends”.)

Kaling’s life has been, by her own ready admission, pretty easy: “And that made writing the book more scary,” she says. “The prevalent style of writing for female comedians is very confidential, even raunchy, and I don’t write about sex, I don’t have any depraved stories to tell and I don’t have any addictions – which are always terrible, until you have a book to sell. But Tina Fey’s book actually came as a huge relief to me because she showed that you can tell stories but also be private and, actually, being a little discreet now feels almost fresh.”

What’s next: As a child, Kaling dreamed of being a TV writer and now, aged 32, she has done that. So what next? The “realistic” side of her wants to have her own TV show and get married; “That’s it,” says Kaling. “But then there’s the psychotic ambitious side of myself that wants a fashion line and my own network and be like a combination of Oprah and Gwen Stefani,” she grins. “And have a perfume. Definitely a perfume.”

[From The Guardian]

I have several favorite parts in the book – I love when Mindy is talking about the culture in LA, and how she’s not-so-secretly jealous of the lives of the trophy wives she encounters, because they get to shop and work out and eat all day. Oh, and she talks about eating. A lot. I love that. I love all of her stories about her girl friends, because she really is such a girly-girl, but it’s not in that “Goddess Circle, my girls are MY TRIBE” kind of way. You get the feeling Mindy would take a bullet for any of her best girl friends, but she would never refer to any of them as part of a goddess circle. Because she’s awesome.




Photos courtesy of WENN.

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22 Responses to “Mindy Kaling: People think I’m dumb because I like girly things”

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  1. gee says:

    I have the BIGGEST girl crush on Mindy Kaling. LOVVEE HERR.

  2. Heatheradair says:

    Loved the book, too — it’s a great “read it in a single sitting” bit of super-fun girl fluff that’s actually well-written and totally entertaining and yep, what I loved about her the most was that she totally felt like a REAL person that you’d meet up for happy with after work….

    She’s sort of my professional idol — real, funny, approachable, smart, adorable as hell, and so self-effacing it’s hard to believe anyone doesn’t love her…..

    Yay mindy!

  3. normades says:

    Love her! She also wrote a lot of the Office’s best scripts.

    Why doesn’t Tina try to make Mindy happen instead of that Munn chick?

  4. lucy2 says:

    Love her. Have the book on my list, will probably get it soon. Especially if it’s similar in tone to Tina’s, which I loved.

  5. CT says:

    I have this weird thing happening with Mindy Kaling. I cannot stand any character she plays ever, and I don’t ever like her in interviews. But her blog, her book, and the scripts she’s written? LOVE.

    So I like Mindy’s writing, but I don’t like her? But her writing is sometimes so autobiographical? I keep trying to reconcile this dichotomy, and I just can’t.

    It’s a really bizarre situation.

  6. cherryberry says:

    She is so adorable. Love her.

  7. PrettyTarheel says:

    Who the EFF calls their friends a Goddess Circle? My best friends would shoot me if I said something so…I don’t even have words for that. Inane? Pathetic? False? Hippy-dippy? Idiotic?
    Ugh. Love Mindy Kaling.

  8. Lalala says:

    She’s so cute but she needs to work with a stylist. Most of those dresses are doing nothing for her figure.

  9. Delta Juliet says:

    She’s cute and funny, and obviously smart. I love her.

    I might have to add her book to my Christmas list. I got Tina Fey’s book for my birthday and loved it. Seems like this will be similar.

  10. mia girl says:

    I’m a big Office fan and agree w/ @normades that some of the best episodes were written/co-written by Kaling.

    @Kaiser thanks for the age range recommendation because my teenage daughter also loves the Office and given the chance I know would love to read this book. In a world full of famehos like the Kardashians, Mindy can be a real role model for young girls.

  11. theaPie says:

    I like this girl!

  12. lairen says:

    Love that interview. She seems like a fun person to hang with. But for some reason the book cover doesn’t work for me. I don’t like it.

  13. Amy says:

    Love her, but I wish these gawdawful bandage dresses would die a fiery death.

  14. SCREEEE says:

    She’s awesome. Her Office episodes are great, and I love Kelly Kapoor. I love her on chatshows, her Twitter… I need to get this book.

    Oh, and I’m a guy! You cross that gender-line, Mindy. Cross it, I say!

  15. Kat says:

    (#3) normades:
    “Why doesn’t Tina try to make Mindy happen instead of that Munn chick?”

    Exactly what I have been thinking ever since I found out Munn’s unfunny wagon has been hitched to the Tina Fey Machine. It’s so disappointing that it’s Olivia Munn and not Mindy.

  16. Rachel() says:

    I just started reading this today! Think I’ll go read it right now. Love her!

  17. Alexis says:

    Cannot believe that Tina supports Olivia Munn. That’s kind of sellouty. I actually think Munn seems like a chill, fun-to-be-around person, but she’s just not funny.

  18. Ranga says:

    I love to hate her Office character, she’s great!

  19. Kloops says:

    She is awesome and I wish someone like Tina Fey would champion her, instead of that inept and talentless Olivia Munn.

    Mindy Kaling: beautiful, smart and funny. Powers that be: Make This Happen

  20. AB says:

    Will read her book, in these pics cant help but notice that the brown lipstick shade does not suit her nor the sleeveless dresses, needs to hide to stretch marks on her arms ASAP!

  21. DDD Cups of Justice says:

    @AB: I’m not trying to be confrontational at all, but why should she have to hide her stretch marks on her arms? It’s not like it’s her stomach or ass hanging out of a ten sizes-too small dress and they’re not THAT noticable. She’s a real person and real people can have stretch marks, scars, cellulite, zits, whatever, it doesn’t take anything away from her innate beauty. Save that airbrushing crap for magazines.

  22. Brinnn44 says:

    I love Mindy. I am also a fan of the funny girly-girls. And I lost my Mom 6 months ago… In the span of 1 month (to the day). She was diagnosed with cancer. They ran tests. She had a stroke on Tuesday. Her team on 6 doctors, social workers, etc. told us she couldn’t be saved on Wednesday. I called the palative care team on Thursday to take her off life support. I wish I had the time to ask her for that advice… but she couldn’t speak after the stroke. I couldn’t find the strength to tell her that she would die… she was scared and I could see it in her eyes… how do you tell your mother she has the options of suffocating or starving to death? How do you find those words? At the end “I love you” is all that suffices. It’s so hard losing your mother… best friend… I may only be 6 months out, but I will never get over that. And much respect to Mindy for talking about it. She should. And I also cried at her story. And all of yours.