Mindy Kaling recalled the moment she felt most self-conscious about her body, because of a weight loss joke her The Office co-star made.
Kaling, 42, told Good Morning America yesterday (August 19) that the incident occurred when she was 25, working as a writer and cast as Kelly Kapoor on The Office. She wouldn’t name the co-worker, but the writer suggested a joke that their character should tell Kaling’s that she could lose 15 pounds. This joke didn’t sit well with Kaling, who recalled starting to wake up extra early to go to the gym before work.
“This is my greatest insecurity and someone just called it out. It’s really devastating,” Kaling said. “I had a reckoning where I’m like, ‘People are scrutinizing [me], and not only are they scrutinizing [me], they’re verbalizing their displeasure with how I look because I don’t look a certain way. That kind of dissonance has really affected so much of what I write about [and] the kind of characters I play.”
“Almost all of those kinds of things [in my work] come from something really real,” Kaling said. She also noted that people who looked like her weren’t properly represented in Hollywood.
“On TV, if you were really thin, then you could be the lead. Otherwise, you had to be like 250 pounds, and you had to be the slapstick comic relief. But what was crazy, what was left out, is just like this range of people which is a majority of American women over the age of 24,” she said. “What if you’re like a [size] 12 and you want to just live your life and look cute and date?”
Kaling said she’s seen a shift for body and racial diversity in recent years. Her Netflix series, Never Have I Ever is a great example of that. Debuting last year, the highly reviewed series centers around an Indian American girl growing up in Southern California. Though Kaling said that the show has “really registered with teens,” she’s most excited about how it’s impacted older viewers.
“It makes me so happy that this show can be on Netflix, 40 million people can watch it, it’s No. 1 around the world and it stars a girl who is a young, dark-skinned Indian girl,” Kaling said. “She’s real, and she dates and boys like her, boys hate her, she goes in and out of drama, fights with her friends, but she’s normal and she’s the point of view character and so you can look to that and feel seen, to use a phrase that people much younger than me use.”
“It would have been really valuable for me when I was coming up,” Kaling continued. “It would have been just great to show [my parents] like, ‘OK, this show is written by a woman of color, it stars a woman of color, it stars a bunch of women of color, it can be done.’ So it just makes it so that when you want to go down a certain career path, their pump has been primed.”
Watch the trailer for Kaling’s show, Never Have I Ever below: