Mindy Kaling ruffled quite a few feathers Oct. 9 after her interview with Elle magazine was published online.
The Indian American actress revealed in the interview that she has faced her share of sexism and racism in the industry. Everyone knows that Kaling not only starred in the NBC workplace comedy, “The Office,” but was also associated with the show as an executive producer, director and writer.
Recalling her time on “The Office” early on when the show was nominated for an Emmy for ‘Outstanding Comedy Series,’ Kaling shared that the Television Academy attempted to drop her name from the producers list because there were “too many” producers, essentially making her ineligible for an Emmy.
And she was the only woman of color on the team, she said.
“In order to receive her rightful recognition,” the Elle article said, “she recalls, ‘they made me, not any of the other producers, fill out a whole form and write an essay about all my contributions as a writer and a producer. I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself.” Her name was eventually added and the show did not win that year.
The Television Academy said Oct. 9 that the move wasn’t personal, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“No one person was singled out,” an academy spokesman said in a statement to the Times. “There was an increasing concern years ago regarding the number of performers and writers seeking producer credits. At the time the Producers Guild worked with the Television Academy to correctly vet producer eligibility.”
“Every performer, producer and writer producer was asked to justify their producer credits,” the spokesman told the publication.
Shortly after the TV Academy’s response, Kaling took to Twitter to say their statement “doesn’t make any sense.”
“Respectfully, the Academy’s statement doesn’t make any sense. I *was* singled out. There were other Office writer-performer-producers who were NOT cut from the list. Just me. The most junior person, and woman of color. Easiest to dismiss. Just sayin,’” she wrote.
She continued in a three-part thread: “I’ve never wanted to bring up that incident because The Office was one of the greatest creative experiences of my life, and who would want to have an adversarial relationship with the Academy, who has the ongoing power to enhance our careers with awards?
“But I worked so hard and it was humiliating. I had written so many episodes, put in so much time in the editing room, just to have the Academy discard it because they couldn’t fathom I was capable of doing it all. Thankfully I was rescued by my friends, the other producers.
“The point is, we shouldn’t have be bailed out because of the kindness our more powerful white male colleagues. Not mentioning it seemed like glossing over my story. This was like ten years ago. Maybe it wouldn’t happen now. But it happened to me.”
Kaling’s interview appears in the November edition of Elle.
Citing a quote by late Toni Morrison, “In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate,” Kaling told Elle: “It really doesn’t matter how much money I have. I’m treated badly with enough regularity that it keeps me humble.”