15 Trivia Tidbits About Mindy Kaling on Her Birthday
Mindy Kaling was born on June 24, 1979, and has gone on to conquer pretty much every aspect of entertainment in front of and behind a camera. She wore multiple creative hats on one of the most popular sitcoms in television history; she’s done voice work for major films like Wreck-It Ralph and Inside Out and she’s even produced her own shows like The Mindy Project and Never Have I Ever. Most folks know her as Dunder Mifflin’s gossip queen Kelly Kapoor, but what else can we learn from the actress, writer and producer who once was the only woman in The Office writers’ room? Let’s check it out…
She Has a Tony Award
Her Name Was Inspired by ‘Mork & Mindy’
“No one’s ever called me Vera,” Kaling explained. “I’ve been Mindy since I was born. When my mom was pregnant, my parents were living in Nigeria and wanted a cute American name because they were moving here, and they knew Mindy from Mork & Mindy. Vera isn’t just an old Russian lady’s name; it’s an incarnation of a Hindu goddess. But they never called me it.” She added that if she ever starred as a singing lead in a big Bollywood movie, she’ll use her full last name, Chokalingam.
She Plays Movie Soundtracks While Cooking
Kaling loves listening to music as much as the next person, but she has a unique playlist for cooking cuisine from around the world. “If I’m cooking Italian food, I’ll play The Talented Mr. Ripley soundtrack, or if I’m making an Indian meal, I’ll play Monsoon Wedding,” she revealed. “It’s very transportive and very fun. I’m very susceptible to the power of music making me feel like I’m in a different place.”
She Once Got Asked the Most Bizarre Question During the ‘Ocean’s 8’ Press Tour
Kaling told Seth Meyers that she was asked a very sexist question during an interview while doing the Ocean’s 8 press tour. “When you’re doing these heist movies, everyone has their special power, which is why Debbie Ocean pulls us together to do this heist,” Kaling explained. “In the movie, Anne (Hathaway) plays an actress and Sarah (Paulson) plays a party promoter. With me, the male reporter was like, ‘Mindy, you play a jeweler. Now, you’re not married, and you’ve never been engaged, so how do you know about diamonds?’”
Meyers rightly commented that it’s not how acting works at all before Kaling continued: “(The reporter) was basically like, ‘You’re a famous spinster, you’d never been near a diamond before. So if you’re not married or engaged, you’ve never seen a diamond. He was so incredulous. He couldn’t put it together. He was basically like, ‘No man has ever loved you!’”
On The Worst Jobs She’s Ever Had
“For three months, I was a production assistant on a show called Crossing Over with John Edward,” Kaling told the Improper Bostonian when asked about the worst office job she’s ever done. “That was pretty painful. All day, you talk to grieving people and do stuff like ask them for photos of their late husband.”
As for the worst job in general, she said, “I worked in a video store in high school, and that sounded like it might be fun, that you’d be watching movies all day. But there are all these secret rules like you can only watch PG movies in the store, which I found out the hard way.”
Kaling and B.J. Novak Are Soup Snakes
Novak is also the godfather of Kaling’s children, and they often call each other their “soup snake.”
She Was a Conan Intern
At the age of 19, Kaling got her first showbiz job working as an intern on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Kaling said that O’Brien was her comedy hero, leaving her utterly starstruck at being able to work on the show while attending Dartmouth. She said, however, that she was the worst intern because instead of doing her job like making coffee or whatever, she was constantly following O’Brien around and watching him at work.
Dana Carvey Inspired Her to Do Comedy
When asked by The A.V. Club how she got into comedy, Kaling revealed that joke writing was the only thing she was good at as a kid and that she adored SNL — especially Dana Carvey. “I must have been 10 or 11, but anything Dana Carvey ever did, I just really loved,” she explained. “He was on for a long time; I don’t really know when that era was. I could watch Dana Carvey with my parents; they loved him too. They loved all his characters. Later, Adam Sandler and David Spade, most of my friends feel like they were raised on that, but I couldn’t watch that with my folks as much because they did racier things.”
She Received a National Medal of Arts from President Joe Biden Earlier This Year
During an awards ceremony recognizing individual achievements in the arts and humanities, Biden bestowed Kaling a National Medal of Arts. Fun fact: Kaling’s breakout, The Office, was set in Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
She Doesn’t Think ‘The Office’ Could Be Made Today
While talking to Good Morning America, Kaling mused that her character Kelly Kapoor would’ve eventually left the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company to become an influencer. Only, she’d probably get “canceled” pretty quickly. Kaling then opined, “That show is so inappropriate now. The writers who I’m still in touch with now, we always talk about how so much of that show we probably couldn’t make now. Tastes have changed, and, honestly, what offends people has changed so much now. I think that actually is one of the reasons the show is popular because people feel like there’s something kind of fearless about it or taboo that it talks about on the show.”
She Loves Running After losing her mother to pancreatic cancer in 2012, Kaling started thinking about health and wellness, eventually undergoing therapy to cope with her grief and regain focus. She also discovered the effect of exercise on her mental health — specifically, running. “I’m always so self-conscious talking about how much I love running because I don’t look like someone who’s athletic or anything,” she told Marie Claire. “But it has really helped me. It just focuses me and makes me a better writer. I think I’m a friendlier person, a more patient mom.”
After losing her mother to pancreatic cancer in 2012, Kaling started thinking about health and wellness, eventually undergoing therapy to cope with her grief and regain focus. She also discovered the effect of exercise on her mental health — specifically, running. “I’m always so self-conscious talking about how much I love running because I don’t look like someone who’s athletic or anything,” she told Marie Claire. “But it has really helped me. It just focuses me and makes me a better writer. I think I’m a friendlier person, a more patient mom.”
She Prefers Writing Over Everything Else
When asked to choose between writing, acting and producing, Kaling said that writing was her comfort spot “because it’s almost a prerequisite that you’re a chubby, cantankerous person who wears gym shorts and torn T-shirts. You’re celebrated if you don’t look that great. Whereas as an actress, I have to go to the gym and wear makeup, and I can’t swear.”
Cormac McCarthy Is Her Favorite Writer of All Time
During a Q&A with the New York Times back in 2015, Kaling said that McCarthy was her all-time favorite novelist. She also listed Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, Gillian Flynn, Salman Rushdie and Jonathan Franzen as among her top picks.
She Once Played Ben Affleck
In 2002 while working on Crossing Over with John Edward, Kaling and her friend Brenda Withers wrote and starred in an Off-Broadway play called Matt & Ben that is based on Damon and Affleck writing Good Will Hunting. Only, in this play, the script falls through the roof and into the living room of the guys’ apartment. Kaling plays Affleck because they thought it’d be funny if she, the short one, portrayed the tall actor. You can watch a recording of the entire play below.
The ‘Matt & Ben’ Play Got Her the Writing Job on ‘The Office’
Kaling said that Greg Daniels hired her as a staff writer (with a performance clause attached) after seeing Matt & Ben. She was also the only woman writer on staff for a while. “That first season, where there were no other women writers, we’d have these whole stretches of time where I’d have to play kind of the little sister, and the youngest, and the girliest,” Kaling said about Kelly Kapoor’s character development. “But it’s weird because Greg hired me off of seeing Matt & Ben, so he saw me when I was at my butchiest ever. And the Kelly character is such an idiotic girl, super girly-girl.”