Mindy Kaling talks challenges in writing for Indian American female and white male lead


LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 13:  Mindy Kaling attends the European Premiere of 'A Wrinkle In Time' at BFI IMAX on March 13, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by John Phillips/John Phillips/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 13: Mindy Kaling attends the European Premiere of 'A Wrinkle In Time' at BFI IMAX on March 13, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/John Phillips/Getty Images)

Mindy Kaling is one of the most successful woman of colour in Hollywood today, and her portrayal of Mindy Lahiri, an Indian American doctor in The Mindy Project, is partly credited for popularising Indian culture in America.

Besides starring in the show, Kaling also co-produced and wrote it, and the actress recently said that the same kind of writing couldn’t be implemented on her new NBC show, Champions.

The overconfidence that was seen as a charming character in Lahiri turned creepy coming from the mouth of a straight white male.

“Mindy Lahiri would say such crazy things and such questionable things, and when it comes from my mouth, when you’re a 5’3″ Indian American woman with dark skin, it has a very different impact than when it comes from a white man that’s 6’3″,” Kaling told Variety. “The way that it looks on camera is very different — the level of privilege. How things come across is just completely different. I had to write things that were more palatable coming from his mouth.”

If Lahiri walked into a room, calls everyone idiots and says she’s the only smart one there the scene would be funny considering it was coming from a marginalised person. However, “coming from Anders Holm you’re like, ‘Whoa, this guy is a jerk,’” said Kaling.

In Champions, Kaling plays Priya, a single mom of a teenage son.  The story revolves around Vince (Anders Holm), a charismatic gym owner, his younger idiot brother Matthew (Andy Favreau) and Vince’s 15-year-old son Michael (J J Totah).

Kaling, recently seen as Mrs. Who in A Wrinkle in Time, is currently gearing up for the release of heist comedy Ocean’s 8, starring Sandra Bullock, Rihanna, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter. The film is an all-female spin-off of Steven Soderbergh’s The Oceans trilogy and it will release on June 8.