BWWTVWorld Interview: Mindy Kaling, Creator & Star of FOX's THE MINDY PROJECT
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The new sitcom THE MINDY PROJECT premiered on Fox on September 25 and has hit the ground running. The show follows a talented doctor, played by Mindy Kaling, who has an obsession with romantic comedies. As she makes her way through her career and her dating life with the help of her witty coworkers, she comes to find that love isn't always like the movies.
Mindy Kaling, THE MINDY PROJECT's star, creator, and executive producer, is often known as the actress behind the character Kelly Kapoor on NBC's THE OFFICE. After co-writing a successful play in New York City, she joined the writing staff of THE OFFICE at age 24 and spent several seasons with the series. She is the winner of a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Asian Excellence Award, and a Writers Guild of America Award. These days, Kaling can be found on the set of THE MINDY PROJECT. Amid her grueling schedule, Kaling took the time to share the latest about her love of comedy, her new series, and Justin Timberlake.
As an executive producer, actress, and writer, one would find it difficult to imagine that Kaling finds any time to sleep. "Typical day is I wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 in the morning. I walk like a zombie to my shower and take a shower. Drive to work, listen to some Justin Timberlake in the car on the way there. Hair and make-up...I check in with the writers, they get in around 10:00 a.m. and I've been acting for a couple of hours and am always excited to see them because when I get to work it's like a ghost town; it's like the walking dead when I first show up."
The vibrant cast she works with brings positivity to the set on rough days. "Because I created the show I'm not shy around strangers because I...either auditioned them or approached them for the part...I like having an easy set. I hate fights. I hate snippiness. I hate sarcasm in the work place."
The television world is known for its tendency to churn out one-dimensional characters, especially when it comes to women, and Kaling aims to give her character a more well-rounded personality. "My goal with the character is that she is doing stuff that we all-you know, women watching and guys watching it, they wish they could do that but they just can't. When a man does it I don't know if you call it obnoxious, when a woman does it maybe it's rarer, so that's what it seems like. I just wanted her to be really realistic and authentic. So many of the female characters I see on TV are there just kind of put upon and kind of boring and they're so worried about viewers not being able to handle them...and occasionally selfish, but every woman I know can be occasionally selfish, and also can be heroic and funny. I'm just trying to make her interesting and nuanced, and if some people think she's obnoxious sometimes then yes, people are obnoxious sometimes, I think, and they can still be like heroes, I guess."
When considering television stereotypes, Kaling said "at least on my staff, we have lists of things that we try not to do. I think there's a trap that comedy writers can fall into which is like making things too meta. I really want this show to appeal to a really wide audience, so I didn't want it to be too specific or niche to just a really small group of hipsters in LA and New York that would...understand...In general, I just didn't want the characters to be stock, you know, I don't want a character to be a 'bimbo' or the 'sassy black woman.' Those are things you see sometimes and I think they're not very fresh. I just try not to do stock characters."
The cast made sure to celebrate the season with a Halloween episode.. "I can tell you that I wear a series of costumes," laughed Kaling. "The premise is that I'm going on a Halloween date with the character Josh who we met in the last episode. The Halloween costume is stressing my character out a lot, which that is very true of me, myself...But there is some pretty awful and some pretty, I think, hilarious costumes that you get to see during the show. I look crazy in a lot of them too; by the way, they're not sexy hot girl costumes. They're pretty funny, I think."
Kaling's character may have some pretty rigid ideas about the definition of love, but don't expect her to remain stubborn in her ways throughout the series. "I always think in a good series the hero or heroine in the show will change and evolve. My character isn't 19; she's 31 or 32 in the pilot and I think if she were to cling to-I think having a love of romance is a great thing for any age, but I think the character should mature over the years. I think she should learn and she should grow, and in a little bit like how Michael Scott on THE OFFICE, he was very different when he left at the end of his time at THE OFFICE than he was at the beginning. A part of loving romantic comedies is a little bit childish. It's a little bit-the character definitely has arrested development. I would hope, and who knows if we're lucky enough to go for many years, I would love to see her shed some of that adoration for romantic comedies and kind of embrace her own life a little."