Mindy Kaling Biography
Vera Mindy Chokalingam (born June 24, 1979), known professionally as Mindy Kaling (), is an American actress, comedian, writer, producer, and director. She first gained recognition starring as Kelly Kapoor in the NBC sitcom The Office (2005–2013), for which she also served as a writer, executive producer, and director. For her work on the series, she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and five times for Outstanding Comedy Series. Kaling gained wider attention for creating, producing and starring in the Fox comedy series The Mindy Project (2012–2017). She created the NBC sitcom Champions (2018), also appearing in five episodes, the Hulu miniseries Four Weddings and a Funeral (2019), and the Netflix comedy-drama series Never Have I Ever (2020).Kaling's film career includes voiceover work in Despicable Me (2010), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), and Inside Out (2015). She had roles in comedy films, such as The Night Before (2015), A Wrinkle in Time and Ocean's 8 (both 2018), and Late Night (2019), the lattermost of which she also wrote and produced. Her memoirs, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (2011) and Why Not Me? (2015), reached The New York Times Best Seller list.
Early lifeVera Mindy Chokalingam was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to father Avu Chokalingam, an architect, and mother Swati Chokalingam (née Roysircar), an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN). Kaling's parents are from India and met while working at the same hospital in Nigeria. Her father, a Tamil raised in Chennai (Madras), was overseeing the building of a wing of the hospital, and her mother, a Bengali in Mumbai, was working as an OB/GYN. The family immigrated to the United States in 1979, the same year Kaling was born. Kaling's mother died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.Kaling has said she has never been called Vera, her first name, but has been referred to as Mindy since her mother was pregnant with her while her parents were living in Nigeria. They were already planning to move to the United States and wanted, Kaling said, a "cute American name" for their daughter, and liked the name Mindy from the TV show Mork & Mindy. The name Vera is, according to Kaling, the name of the "incarnation of a Hindu goddess." Kaling graduated from Buckingham Browne & Nichols, a private school in Cambridge, in 1997. The following year, she entered Dartmouth College, where she was a member of the improvisational comedy troupe The Dog Day Players and the a cappella group The Rockapellas, was the creator of the comic strip Badly Drawn Girl in The Dartmouth (the college's daily newspaper), and was a writer for the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern (the college's humor magazine).Kaling graduated from Dartmouth College in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in playwriting. She was a classics major for much of college and studied Latin, a subject she had been learning since the seventh grade. Kaling lists the comedy series Dr. Katz, Saturday Night Live, Frasier and Cheers as early influences on her comedy.
= 2002-2004: Career beginningsWhile a 19-year-old sophomore at Dartmouth, Kaling was an intern on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Kaling has said that she never saw a family like hers on TV, which gave her a dual perspective she uses in her writing. She thinks the "everyone against me mentality" is what she learned as a child of immigrants. She named her Mindy Project character Mindy Lahiri after author Jhumpa Lahiri.After college, Kaling moved to Brooklyn, New York. Kaling said one of her worst job experiences was as a production assistant for three months on the Crossing Over With John Edward psychic show. She described it as "depressing." During this same time, Kaling performed stand-up comedy.Kaling devised her stage name after discovering while doing stand-up comedy that emcees would have trouble pronouncing her last name, Chokalingam, and sometimes made jokes about it. She toured solo as well as with Craig Robinson before he was on The Office.In August 2002, Kaling portrayed Ben Affleck in an off-Broadway play called Matt & Ben, which she co-wrote with her best friend from college, Brenda Withers—who played Matt Damon. The play was named one of Time magazine's "Top Ten Theatrical Events of The Year" and was "a surprise hit" at the 2002 New York International Fringe Festival. Initially, Withers and Kaling had, "for their own entertainment, mockingly pretended to be the best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck; that pretending spawned Matt & Ben, the goofy play that reimagined how Damon and Affleck came to write the movie Good Will Hunting."Kaling wrote a blog, Things I've Bought That I Love, which reemerged on her website on September 29, 2011. The blog was written under the name Mindy Ephron, "a name Kaling chose because she was amused by the idea of her 20-something Indian-American self as a long-lost Ephron sister."
= 2004-2011: The OfficeIn 2004, when The Office producer Greg Daniels was working to adapt The Office from the BBC TV series of the same name, he hired Kaling as a writer-performer after reading a spec script she wrote. He said, "She's very original ... If anything feels phony or lazy or passé, she’ll pounce on it." When Kaling joined The Office, she was 24 years old and was the only woman on a staff of eight. She took on the role of character Kelly Kapoor, debuting in the series's second episode, "Diversity Day." Kaling's TV appearances include a 2005 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, playing Richard Lewis's assistant. She is featured on the CD Comedy Death-Ray and guest-wrote parts of an episode of Saturday Night Live in April 2006. After her film debut in The 40-Year-Old Virgin with Steve Carell, Kaling appeared in the film Unaccompanied Minors as a waitress.
In an interview with The A.V. Club, she stated that Kelly is "an exaggerated version of what I think the upper-level writers believe my personality is." Kaling directed The Office webisode The 3rd Floor. She directed the Season 6 episode titled "Body Language," which marked her television directorial debut. In 2007, she had a small part in License to Wed alongside fellow The Office actors John Krasinski, Angela Kinsey, and Brian Baumgartner. Kaling starred in the 2009 film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian as a Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum tour guide
Her contract was set to expire at the end of Season 7. On September 15, 2011, she signed a new contract to stay with the show for Season 8 and was promoted to full executive producer. Her Universal Television contract included a development deal for a new show (eventually titled The Mindy Project), in which she appeared as an actress and contributed as a writer. Kaling left The Office after the ninth-season episode "New Guys". However, she returned to guest-star in the final episode of the series. In 2011, Kaling published a memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), which appeared on the New York Times best-seller list. Her second book, Why Not Me?, covers the many events that have happened in her life since 2011, and was published on September 15, 2015. Why Not Me? launched at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. She published a third memoir, Nothing Like I Imagined (Except For Sometimes), with Amazon Original Stories in 2020.
Kaling and her fellow writers and producers of The Office were nominated five consecutive times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. In 2010, she received a nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series with Daniels for the episode "Niagara." In 2011, she played the role of Shira, a doctor who is a roommate and colleague of the main character Emma (played by Natalie Portman) in No Strings Attached. Kaling also made an appearance as Vanetha in The Five-Year Engagement in 2012.
= 2012-present: Producing and film workIn 2012, Kaling pitched a single-camera comedy to Fox called The Mindy Project, which Kaling wrote, produced and starred in. Fox began airing the series in 2012. In 2013, Time magazine named her on their list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Kaling notes that she is sometimes described as a pioneer, as there are not yet very many Indian-American women on television. Fox canceled the series in May 2015 but it was later picked up by Hulu for a 26-episode fourth season and a 16-episode fifth season. In March 2017, Kaling announced that the show's sixth season, which would air starting September 2017, would be the last. The series concluded on November 14, 2017.
Kaling voiced Taffyta Muttonfudge in Disney's animated comedy film Wreck-It Ralph and Disgust in Pixar's 2015 film Inside Out. In 2017, NBC ordered Champions, where Kaling is a co-creator, writer, and producer. She had a recurring guest role on the show, which premiered Thursday, March 8, 2018 on NBC. It was cancelled after one season.
In 2018, she played Mrs. Who in A Wrinkle in Time, the live-action Disney adaptation of the novel, and starred alongside Helena Bonham Carter, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Awkwafina and Rihanna in Ocean's 8, the all-female version of Ocean's Eleven.In 2020, Kaling created the Netflix series Never Have I Ever with Lang Fisher, a comedy partially based on Kaling's real childhood story, growing up in the Boston area. It premiered on Netflix on April 27, 2020, and is about an Indian American high school student, played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, dealing with the death of her father. The series received positive reviews. The series has been described as a watershed moment for South Asian representation in Hollywood and has been praised for breaking Asian stereotypes.Upcoming Projects
Kaling is set to co-write the third installment in the Legally Blonde series with Dan Goor. and she is also committed to re-team with Dan Goor to write and star alongside Priyanka Chopra in a comedy about an Indian-American wedding under Universal.
Personal lifeKaling has a close friendship with B. J. Novak, whom she met through writing for The Office. The two dated on and off while writing and acting on the show, sometimes mirroring the on-again, off-again nature of the relationship between their respective characters Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor.Kaling's mother died in January 2012, on the same day The Mindy Project was picked up by Fox. In 2012, Kaling was included in the Time 100 list of influential people. In 2014, she was named one of Glamour's Women of the Year.Kaling is a 1% owner of the Welsh football team Swansea City A.F.C. based in Swansea, Wales in the UK.In December 2017, Kaling gave birth to a daughter, Katherine Swati. Kaling has chosen not to reveal the identity of the baby's father, even to close friends. On October 8, 2020, she revealed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that she gave birth to her second child, a son named Spencer, on September 3, 2020. Novak is the godfather to both her children.On June 10, 2018, she received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Awards and nominationsIn 2013, Entertainment Weekly identified Kaling as one of the "50 Coolest and Most Creative Entertainers" in Hollywood. In the same year, Kaling was recognized by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
BibliographyKaling, Mindy, and Brenda Withers. Matt & Ben: A New Play. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 2004; ISBN 978-1-585-67571-5
Kaling, Mindy. Unbelievable Holiday Tales: Scripting a Fantasy of a Family, The New York Times, December 18, 2009.
Kaling, Mindy. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), New York: Crown Archetype, 2011; ISBN 978-0-307-88627-9; OCLC 698332696
Kaling, Mindy. Questions I Ask When I Want to Talk About Myself: 50 Topics to Share With Friends, Clarkson Potter, 2013; ISBN 978-0-449-81988-3
Kaling, Mindy. Why Not Me?, New York : Crown Archetype, 2015; ISBN 978-0-804-13814-7; OCLC 910914690
Kaling, Mindy. Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes), Amazon Original Stories, 2020
See alsoIndians in the New York City metropolitan region
Mindy Kaling at IMDb