When Mindy Kaling started on The Office, she was the only woman of color in the writers’ room.
Obviously, a lot has changed for Mindy since then — she’s created and starred in her own show The Mindy Project, acted alongside Oprah (A Wrinkly in Time) and Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight), and has produced a number of shows and movies, including the upcoming film Late Night.
But despite all of her immense talent, it took her a little while to realize her value in Hollywood.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, she said,
“I came up on The Office writing staff as a part of the NBC diversity initiative and I remember feeling so embarrassed about that — grateful for it but embarrassed for other people to know that, because I didn’t want them to think that that was the only reason that I was hired.”
Eventually, she realized she had nothing to be ashamed of because it leveled the playing field for someone who may not have had the same opportunities as white — particularly white male — writers.
“It took me a long time to realize that that was the way that I found the opportunity to be on the show that other people, who don’t necessarily look like me, find access through where they went to college, who their siblings are, just the culture that they’re from which provides them access, and I didn’t have to feel guilty about that.”
She’s now channeling those experiences into her new film Late Night with Emma Thomson — a movie which she both wrote and stars in.
The movie follows Mindy as Molly, a diversity hire on a late-night comedy show. Molly must navigate her way through a writers room filled white men and find a way to deal with the difficult show host, played by Emma.
In addition to Late Night (which drops on Amazon on June 7), Mindy also has a limited series coming to Hulu and a Netflix series in the works.