• Sun, Mar 9 - 3:24 pm ET

Mindy Kaling Awesomely Calls Out Entire Television Industry For Lack Of Diversity

Mindy Kaling

In case you thought that SXSW Film Festival in no way applies to your life, think again ladies!  I know we’re all filmed-out after this intense awards season, and maybe you don’t have enough energy to care about the soundbites coming from SXSW right now.  But after reading what Mindy Kaling had to say during her panel, I think you’ll change your mind.

Kaling spoke to a packed room of around 2,000 fans about how hard it is to get a network show, let alone to be an Indian American woman show-runner.  Listen up, television industry, because Mindy has a piece of her mind to share with you:

“I look at shows on TV — and this is going to seem defensive, but I’m just going to say it — I’m a fucking Indian woman who has her own television show.  I have four series regulars that are women on my show, and no one asks these other shows why there are no women or women of color.”

Like her or not, she’s absolutely right.  There’s no denying that there is a serious lack of diversity in network television (just one of the many reasons I barely watch it).  Because she’s a woman, and a woman of color at that, I can’t even fathom the roadblocks she’s come across in the industry.  Thankfully, she’s never let that stop her.  After a successful stint writing and acting on The Office, she now stars,directs, writes, and produces The Mindy Project.  She’s successful now, but she explains the hardships she faced along the way during her time performing improv:

 ”People think that you’re not funny because of the way that you look. I think one of the things that’s been helpful to me is I try not to think that much about how I’m an Indian American. I can’t think about my legacy because it stops me from being productive — it’s a distraction. I don’t want to stop being who I am… but I can’t rely on it.”

You can say that again, girl.  And based on the way Twitter blew up during her panel, it seems like plenty of people were glad to hear such confidence and honesty.  You keep doing you, Mindy!

(Photo: WENN)

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  • Sarita

    She has the lowest-rated sitcom on TV. Fox renewed it to patch up holes in next season’s schedule. Pure, unadulterated hype.

    Oh, and people would talk less about “diversity” or “feminism” if the show were actually FUNNY.

  • Tiffany

    Yeah, but she adds to the lack of diversity by hiring exclusively white men to be her love interest and putting a sassy black chick stereotype on display. I think she is funny and intelligent, but she lacks awareness of the racial implications of what she is depicting on this show, and that is frightening to me.

    • Eileen

      I mean, she’s still a girl from Boston who went to Dartmouth, works in comedy, and lives in the US. I don’t stalk her THAT much but I’m sure she’s mostly dated white guys in real life, just based on what kind of people move in those circles, and that probably affects her choices re whom she’s going to cast as a love interest for herself.

      And I do think it’s unfair that women and POC seem to get held to much higher standards when it comes to hiring women and POC than white men do. Sure, we complain about the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry, but specific women get called out whereas the men just get lumped together as “Hollywood.”

    • Amber

      If Kaling’s show was actually hilarious, no one would discuss gender or diversity. But it’s sub-par, and Kaling is obsessed with her own celebrity. She press-releases EVERYTHING, including the price of her house (which is a tacky thing to do).

      Mindy Kaling does not care about making great comedy; she cares about making MONEY. She gives this away about herself in interviews and on Twitter, and she probably does it inadvertently. She’s said her two role models are Tyler Perry and Richard Nixon. That tells you everything you need to now about her standards.

      The reason other showrunners don’t come under as much criticism as her is because they’re not constantly in front of interview cameras, screaming “LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME!” Shonda Rhimes makes popular shows, and rarely does interviews. Tina Fey actually does very few interviews. If Mindy Kaling is going to base her entire career on self-promotion, she shouldn’t be upset when she gets called out for being shallow.

    • elle

      Ugh thank you for that. Something has always bothered me about Mindy Kaling but I could never quite put my finger on what. But reading this comment I know have realized what bothers me about her.

    • Elizabeth Aspen

      Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but in mine, Mindy’s show is unbelievably funny and she’s very funny in it. Granted, I don’t own a television and haven’t watched for five years, but I checked Season 1 on dvd out of the library having never heard of the show and laughed my ass off at every episode.

  • Quinn

    The Mindy Project isn’t the only show on Network television that has a woman of color as a lead-remember Sleepy Hollow with Nicole Beharie? (which is actually a good show, might I add)…

    I know a lot of people complain about the way that women in general are portrayed on tv right now, but there are a few of shows that depict strong women. Michonne on the Walking Dead is not only a fan favorite but a critically acclaimed character, Lucy Liu has earned praise on Elementary, Scandal has Kerry Washington, and fan favorite (though not one of mine) Pretty Little Liars has Shay Mitchell (who’s Filipino and Irish).

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t understand why it’s so important what the color of an actor’s skin is, it should be about their performance and that alone-and just the fact that there are several strong female characters in television these days is a huge improvement over a few years ago.

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