Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling

Kaling at Paleyfest in 2013 for The Mindy Project
Born Vera Mindy Chokalingam
(1979-06-24) June 24, 1979
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Education Buckingham Browne & Nichols
Alma mater Dartmouth College
Occupation Actress, comedienne, writer, producer
Years active 2003present
Home town Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Religion Hinduism
Website theconcernsofmindykaling.com

Comedy career

Medium Stand-up, television, film, books
Genres satire, improvisational comedy, sketch comedy, stand-up comedy
Subject(s) American culture, pop culture
Influences Conan O'Brien
Relative(s) Vijay Jojo Chokal-Ingam
Notable works and roles The Office
The Mindy Project
Inside Out
Wreck-It Ralph

Vera Mindy Chokalingam (born June 24, 1979),[1][2] known professionally as Mindy Kaling, is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer. She is the creator and star of the Fox and Hulu sitcom The Mindy Project, and also serves as executive producer and writer for the show. She is also known for her work on the NBC sitcom The Office, where she portrayed the character Kelly Kapoor and served as executive producer, writer and director on some of the episodes.[3]

Early life

Kaling was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Hindu Indian parents from India,[4] Avu Chokalingam, an architect,[5] and Dr. Swati Chokalingam (née Roysircar), an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN).[6]

Kaling's parents met while working at the same hospital in Nigeria. Her father was overseeing the building of a wing of the hospital and her mother was working as an OB/GYN.[7] The family emigrated in 1979, the same year Kaling was born.[3] Kaling's mother died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.[8][9][10] Kaling has an older brother, Vijay Jojo Chokalingam.

Kaling graduated from Buckingham Browne & Nichols, a private school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1997. The following year, she entered Dartmouth College where she was a member of the improvisational comedy troupe "The Dog Day Players" and the a cappella group "The Rockapellas", creator of the comic strip "Badly Drawn Girl" in The Dartmouth (the college's daily newspaper), and a writer for the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern (the college's humor magazine). Kaling graduated from Dartmouth in 2001[11] with a bachelor's degree in playwriting.[12] She was a classics major for much of college and studied Latin, a subject she has been learning since the 7th grade.[7]


While a 19-year-old sophomore at Dartmouth, Kaling was an intern on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.[13] Kaling said she was a terrible intern, "less of a 'make copies' intern and more of a 'stalk Conan' intern."[13]

After college, Kaling moved to Brooklyn.[3] Kaling said one of her "worst job" experiences was as a production assistant for three months on the Crossing Over With John Edward psychic show.[14] She described it as "depressing".[15] During this same time, Kaling did stand-up in New York City.[2]

In August 2002, Kaling portrayed Ben Affleck in an off Broadway play called Matt & Ben,[16] which she co-wrote with her best friend from college, Brenda Withers—who played Matt Damon. The play was named one of Time magazine's "Top Ten Theatrical Events of The Year" and was "a surprise hit" at the 2002 New York International Fringe Festival.[3] Initially, Withers and Kaling had, "for their own entertainment, mockingly pretend to be the best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck; that pretending spawned 'Matt & Ben', the goofy play that reimagined how Damon and Affleck came to write the movie Good Will Hunting".[3]

Kaling wrote a popular blog called "Things I've Bought That I Love",[3] which reemerged on her website on September 29, 2011.[17] The blog was written under the name Mindy Ephron, "a name Kaling chose because she was amused by the idea of her 20-something Indian-American self as a long-lost Ephron sister".[3]

The Office

Kaling in 2008

In 2004, when The Office producer Greg Daniels was working to adapt The Office from the BBC show of the same name, he hired Kaling as a writer-performer after reading a spec script she wrote. "She's very original ... If anything feels phony or lazy or passé, she’ll pounce on it."[3]

When Kaling joined the The Office, she was 24 years old and was the only woman on a staff of eight.[3] She took on the role of character Kelly Kapoor, debuting in the series’ second episode, "Diversity Day."[12] She wrote "Niagara", for which she was co-nominated for an Emmy with Greg Daniels. Credited with twenty-five episodes, Kaling is the most prolific writer on the staff.[18]

In a 2007 interview with The A.V. Club, she stated that "Kelly" is "an exaggerated version of what I think the upper-level writers believe my personality is."[15] After the "Diwali" episode,[2] Kaling appeared with Daniels on NPR's Fresh Air.[19]

Kaling directed The Office webisodes The 3rd Floor.[20] She directed the season 6 episode titled "Body Language", which marked her television directorial debut. Her contract was set to expire at the end of Season 7. On September 15, 2011, she signed a new contract to stay with the show for Season 8, and was promoted to full Executive Producer status.[21] Her Universal Television contract included a development deal for a new show (eventually titled The Mindy Project), in which she appears as an actress and contributes as a writer.[3]

Kaling and her fellow writers and producers of The Office were nominated five consecutive times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. In 2010, she received a nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series with Greg Daniels for the episode, "Niagara".[22]

The Mindy Project

In 2012, Kaling pitched a single-camera comedy[23] to Fox called The Mindy Project, which was written and produced by Kaling.[24] Fox began airing the series Tuesdays at 9:30 Eastern Time starting in 2012.

Kaling notes that she is sometimes described as a pioneer, as there are not yet very many Indian-American women on television.[25]

The series was canceled by Fox in May 2015 but was later picked up by Hulu for a 26 episode fourth season and a 16 episode fifth season.

Upcoming comedy series

In November 2016, ABC announced that Kaling and Ed Weeks (co-star in The Mindy Project) would be teaming up to executive produce a comedy series that ABC have give script commitment to as well as ordering a pilot and penalty. Weeks co-wrote the comedy with Hannah Mackay and the untitled single-camera comedy centers on liberal lesbian couple Laurel and Marisa who move with their teenage son to Laurel's conservative hometown in Kansas to find that their assumptions about Middle America might just be wrong.[26]

Other work


Kaling's TV appearances include a 2005 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, playing Richard Lewis's assistant. She is featured on the CD Comedy Death-Ray and guest-wrote parts of an episode of Saturday Night Live in April 2006.[12][15]

After her film debut in The 40-Year-Old Virgin with Steve Carell, Kaling appeared in the film Unaccompanied Minors as a waitress. In 2007 she held a small part in License to Wed starring fellow The Office actors John Krasinski, Angela Kinsey, and Brian Baumgartner. Kaling was in the 2009 film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian as a Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum tour guide and voiced Taffyta Muttonfudge in Disney's animated comedy film, Wreck-It Ralph. In 2011 she played the role of Shira, a doctor who is a roommate and colleague of the main character Emma (played by Natalie Portman) in No Strings Attached. Kaling also made an appearance as Vanetha in The Five-Year Engagement (2012).[27] Kaling also voiced Disgust in the 2015 Pixar animated film, Inside Out.

In June 2016, it was confirmed that Kaling would star alongside Helena Bonham Carter, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Rihanna in Ocean's Eight, the all female version of Ocean's Eleven.[28] It was also reported in September 2016 that she will play Mrs. Who in A Wrinkle in Time, the live-action Disney adaptation of the novel.


In 2011, Kaling published a memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).[29][30] Her second book, Why Not Me?, covers the many events that have happened in her life since 2011, and was published on September 15, 2015. In 2015, Mindy Kaling acknowledged that she would be writing a third book with B. J. Novak, who she had long been associated with after acting and writing together on The Office.[31]

Personal life

Kaling has said she has never been called Vera, her first name,[14] but has been referred to as Mindy since her mother was pregnant with her while her parents were living in Nigeria. They were already planning to move to the United States and wanted, Kaling said, a "cute American name" for their daughter, and liked the name Mindy from the TV show Mork & Mindy. The name Vera is, according to Kaling, the name of the "incarnation of a Hindu goddess."[14]

Kaling has a close friendship with B.J. Novak, whom she met through writing for The Office. The two dated on and off while writing and acting on the show, sometimes mirroring the on-again, off-again nature of the relationship between their respective characters Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor.[32][33] Novak served as a consulting producer for Season 1 of The Mindy Project,[34] and has appeared on the show 4 times although his formal producing role ended after the 1st season at his request. His brother Jesse composes the music for The Mindy Project.

When Kaling started doing stand-up, the emcees could never pronounce her last name, Chokalingam, so they made fun of it. Eventually she changed it to Kaling.[2] She stopped doing stand-up because it required a lot more time than she had. She toured solo as well as with Craig Robinson before he was on The Office.[7]

Kaling has said that she never saw a family like hers on TV, which gave her a dual perspective she uses in her writing.[2] The "everyone against me mentality" is what she thinks she learned as a child of immigrants.[2] She loves reading books by Jhumpa Lahiri, with Kaling even naming her Mindy Project character Mindy Lahiri after her.[35]

She lives in West Hollywood, California.



Year Title Role Notes
2005 The 40 Year Old Virgin Amy Film debut
2006 Unaccompanied Minors Restaurant Hostess
2007 License to Wed Shelly
2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Docent
2010 Despicable Me Tourist Mom Voice, Cameo
2011 No Strings Attached Shira
2012 The Five-Year Engagement Vaneetha
2012 Wreck-It Ralph Taffyta Muttonfudge Voice
2013 This Is the End Herself
2015 Inside Out Disgust Voice
2015 Riley's First Date? Disgust Voice; short film
2015 The Night Before Sarah
2018 Ocean's Eight Filming
2018 A Wrinkle in Time Mrs. Who Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2005 Curb Your Enthusiasm Richard Lewis's Assistant Episode: "Lewis Needs a Kidney"
2005–2013 The Office Kelly Kapoor Main Role (Seasons 1–8); Special Guest Star (Season 9)

174 episodes

2012–present The Mindy Project Dr. Mindy Lahiri Lead Role
2015 The Muppets Herself Episode: "Single all the Way"[36]

The Office writing

  1. "Hot Girl" (April 26, 2005) – Season 1
  2. "The Dundies" (September 20, 2005) – Season 2
  3. "The Injury" (January 12, 2006) – Season 2
  4. "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" (March 16, 2006) – Season 2
  5. "Diwali" (November 2, 2006) – Season 3
  6. "Ben Franklin" (February 1, 2007) – Season 3
  7. "Branch Wars" (November 1, 2007) – Season 4
  8. "Night Out" (April 24, 2008) – Season 4
  9. "Frame Toby" (November 20, 2008) – Season 5
  10. "Lecture Circuit: Part 1" (February 5, 2009) – Season 5
  11. "Lecture Circuit: Part 2" (February 12, 2009) – Season 5
  12. "Golden Ticket" (March 12, 2009) – Season 5
  13. "Niagara" co-written with Greg Daniels (October 8, 2009) – Season 6
  14. "Secret Santa" (December 10, 2009) – Season 6
  15. "The Manager and the Salesman" (February 11, 2010) – Season 6
  16. "Secretary's Day" (April 22, 2010) – Season 6
  17. "The Sting" (October 21, 2010) – Season 7
  18. "Classy Christmas" (December 9, 2010) – Season 7
  19. "Michael's Last Dundies" (April 21, 2011) – Season 7
  20. "Christmas Wishes" (December 9, 2011) – Season 8
  21. "Test the Store" (March 9, 2012) – Season 8

The Office directing

  1. "Body Language" (April 29, 2010) – Season 6
  2. "Michael's Last Dundies" (April 21, 2011) – Season 7

Awards and nominations

In 2013, Entertainment Weekly identified Kaling as one of the "50 Coolest and Most Creative Entertainers" in Hollywood.[37] In the same year, Kaling was recognized by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.[22]

Year Group Award Status Film/Television series
2005 Writers Guild of America Awards New Series Nominated The Office
Comedy Series Nominated
2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
New Series Comedy Series Won
2007 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
New Series Episodic Comedy – for episode Local Ad Nominated
Comedy Series Nominated
Asian Excellence Awards Supporting Television Actress Won
2008 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
New Series Comedy Series Nominated
2009 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Prism Awards Performance in a Comedy Series Nominated
2010 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, "Niagara" Nominated
2012 Writers Guild of America Awards New Series Nominated The Mindy Project
Peoples Choice Awards Favorite New TV Comedy Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Most Exciting New Series Won
2013 Gracie Awards Outstanding Producer - Entertainment Won
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
TCA Awards Outstanding New Program Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV: Breakout Show Nominated
Choice TV Actress: Comedy Nominated
2014 Gracie Awards Outstanding Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Won
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Comedy[38] Nominated
TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy[38] Nominated
2015 Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Series Won
Reader's Choice Awards Reader's Choice Award for Best Humor Book Won Why Not Me?

Works and publications

See also


  1. "Vera M Chokalingam - United States Public Records". FamilySearch. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Ulaby, Neda (February 4, 2009). "On TV, Immigrants' Kids Mine Cultural Convergence". Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Sittenfeld, Curtis (September 25, 2011). "A Long Day at 'The Office' With Mindy Kaling". nytimes.com. Sunday Magazine. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  4. Coen, Jessica (December 12, 2011). "Mindy Kaling Visits Jezebel, Takes Your Questions". Jezebel. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  5. Kaling, Mindy (October 3, 2011). "Flick Chicks: A guide to women in the movies.". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
  6. Rodman, Sarah (September 25, 2012). "Mindy Kaling's mother inspired new TV 'Project'". Boston Globe. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  7. 1 2 3 Maron, Marc (March 12, 2012). "Episode 261 - Mindy Kaling" (Audio podcast). wtfpod.com. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  8. "Swati Chokalingam M.D.: Obituary". The Boston Globe. February 2, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  9. "Swati Chokalingam - United States Social Security Death Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  10. Cosgrove Baylis, Shelia (November 12, 2013). "Mindy Kaling: My Late Mom 'Was the Love of My Life'". People. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  11. Dartmouth Staff (June 10, 2001). "List of Graduates". The Dartmouth. Retrieved January 28, 2015. As "Vera Chokalingam"
  12. 1 2 3 Swiss, Zach (May 23, 2006). "Kaling '01 embarks on acting, writing career for 'The Office'". thedartmouth.com. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  13. 1 2 O'Brien, Conan (November 7, 2012). "Mindy Kaling Was A Conan Intern - CONAN on TBS" (Video interview). YouTube. Team Coco. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 Soroff, Jonathan. "Mindy Kaling interview in Improper Bostonian". The Improper Bostonian. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  15. 1 2 3 Phipps, Keith (April 4, 2007). "Mindy Kaling - Interview". A.V. Club. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  16. Weber, Bruce (August 12, 2003). "Theater Review; Bad Will Hunting, Armed With Venom Darts". The New York Times. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  17. Kaling, Mindy (January 27, 2012). "Ongoing Concerns". The Concerns of Mindy Kaling. Archived from the original (Blog) on March 6, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  18. "imdb".
  19. Gross, Terry (November 2, 2006). "Writing 'The Office'". Fresh Air. NPR. Retrieved December 1, 2008.
  20. "The Office Webisodes: The 3rd Floor". OfficeTally.com. November 5, 2010. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  21. Ausiello, Michael (September 15, 2011). "Scoop: Mindy Kaling Gets Major Office Promotion — But There's a Twist!". TVLine.
  22. 1 2 Helms, Ed (April 13, 2013). "The 2013 Time 100 - Mindy Kaling: Comedian and creator, 33". Time.
  23. Soroff, Jonathan (2013). "Mindy Kaling: The star of The Mindy Project tells us about stereotypes and being a smart girl in Hollywood.". The Improper Bostonian. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  24. Ty, Kanara (February 1, 2012). "Fox picks up Mindy Kaling pilot". Asia Pacific Arts.
  25. Martin, Rachel (October 16, 2014). "Mindy Kaling On Refusing To Be An Outsider And Sexism On Set" (Audio interview). Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  26. Andreeva, Nellie (2016-11-01). "Ed Weeks & Mindy Kaling Team For ABC Comedy About Lesbian Couple In Kansas". Deadline. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  27. Mindy Kaling at the Internet Movie Database
  28. "That all-female Ocean's Eleven cast list adds three big names". The Independent. 2016-06-10. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  29. Itzkoff, Dave (April 22, 2010). "After 'Office' Hours, Mindy Kaling Writes a Book". The New York Times. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  30. Chaney, Jen (November 18, 2011). "Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)". The Washington Post.
  31. Zuckerman, Esther. "Mindy Kaling Reveals Details of New Book With B.J. Novak". TIME.com. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  32. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1411676/bio?ref_=nmbio_ql_1
  33. https://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/mindy-kaling-and-bj-novak-sitting-in-a-tree?utm_term=.mtAqv18v8A#.ry6qyZmym3
  34. "B.J. Novak on his 'Mindy Project' arc, being BFF with Mindy Kaling, and returning to 'The Office'", ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com, January 29, 2013.
  35. Mindy Kaling (June 28, 2013). "Authors share their all-time favorite summer reads". Time. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  36. http://abc.go.com/shows/the-muppets/episode-guide/season-01/10-single-all-the-way
  37. EW Staff (July 31, 2013). "This Week's Cover: The New Hollywood starring Mindy Kaling". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  38. 1 2 Slezak, Michael (May 27, 2014). "TCA Awards 2014: True Detective Snags Four Nominations; Good Wife, Breaking Bad Land Three Each". TVLine. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  39. Kaling, Mindy (December 18, 2009). "Unbelievable Holiday Tales: Scripting a Fantasy of a Family". The New York Times. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
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