Last week, Mindy Kaling slammed the Television Academy after it denied discriminating against her when it nearly cut her from the producers list on “The Office” ahead of the Emmys years ago. But there was one part of the academy’s comments that she liked.
Kaling expanded on her thoughts Monday night at Elle’s 26th Annual Women in Hollywood celebration at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, crediting the academy for accepting that the rules that led to her experience were flawed and in need of change — even if it didn’t accept her personal truth.
“I was happy to see that they acknowledged that this policy of making and vetting young people to defend why they needed to be getting the credit that they already had, that they’ve stopped doing that and making writer-performers not go through an extra level of scrutiny,” Kaling told The Times.
In a recent Elle cover story, Kaling said that the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences had forced her alone among “The Office” staffers to prove her contributions as a producer for the chance to win a 2007 Emmy, bolstered by letters from white male counterparts who vouched for her work on the comedy. She was the only woman of color on the producing team.
“There won’t be a situation now, in the future, where the one youngest woman of color is told that she can’t receive the same award as her white coworkers,” Kaling said Monday.
Respectfully, the Academy’s statement doesn’t make any sense. I *was* singled out. There were other Office writer-performer-producers who were NOT cut from the list. Just me. The most junior person, and woman of color. Easiest to dismiss. Just sayin’. https://t.co/frT2pQUfLF— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) October 9, 2019
During the ceremony, Kaling received much love from her fellow women in entertainment, especially her “A Wrinkle in Time” costar Reese Witherspoon. The “Big Little Lies” star gushed over the “Mindy Project” and “Late Night” mastermind‘s many accomplishments before presenting her with her honor, acknowledging the obstacles she surmounted along the way.
“This thing we say to kids, ’You can’t be it if you can’t see it.’ Well, Mindy didn’t see it growing up,” Witherspoon said. “She didn’t see herself represented on television shows or in her favorite ‘SNL’ or in her favorite romantic comedies or sci-fi movies. She didn’t see herself in the publishing world, and she really didn’t see herself on the cover of magazines. So she asked herself, ‘Why not me?’ And she became it.”
Host Issa Rae also sang Kaling’s praises during her opening monologue, reminding the audience that the “Office” alum was the only woman of color in the writers’ room when she started on the hit NBC comedy — which Rae sarcastically lauded for having a “very diverse cast and important social message.” The audience laughed.
On stage, Kaling continued to champion female minority artists who she said create diverse projects in the face of unfair odds, while men are “handed large franchises to direct” and are “allowed to fail, safely knowing they’ll bounce back with — at the very least — a lucrative podcast.”
“It is a testament to our resilience that women — especially women of color — can knock it out of the park if we are just given the shot,” Kaling said to cheers from the crowd. “We face a disproportionate amount of scrutiny. Why is it the sole responsibility of people of color to hire people of color?”