Mindy Kaling: AAPI Heritage Month Actor Highlights

Actress. Comedian. Director. Writer. Producer. Pop culture powerhouse. We celebrate South Asian AAPI superstar Mindy Kaling.

Chuck Walton

By Chuck Walton

Mindy Kaling AAPI Heritage Month Late Night

© Amazon Studios / courtesy Everett Collection

She's a star on the small screen, the big screen and online. And she's the person to call for any entertainment project that requires the greatest level of creativity, talent, and personality. Today, we salute AAPI legend, the one and only Mindy Kaling.

How You Know Her

For millions of fans of "The Office," Mindy Kaling will forever be known as Kelly Kapoor. You know, the ever-chatty customer service rep at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin. And the on-again, off-again girlfriend of office worker Ryan Howard.

But Kaling is also known for a lot more. She's the movie star from "Ocean's 8," "A Wrinkle in Time," "Late Night," "Wreck-It Ralph" and plenty more big screen features.

© Warner Bros. Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

© Warner Bros. Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

On television, she co-starred for eight seasons on "The Office." She then went on to create and star for six seasons on "The Mindy Project." And in 2020, she created the Netflix series "Never Have I Ever," based on her Boston childhood.

Her Life So Far

Kaling was born Vera Mindy Chokalingam in the Cambridge, Massachusetts area to an architect father and OB/GYN mother. Her parents, both from India, met while working at a hospital in Nigeria. Never one to go by her first name Vera, Mindy received her middle one from her parents' love of "Mork & Mindy."

The entertainer attended college at Dartmouth, where she was a part of a comedy improv, drew an original cartoon for the school newspaper and performed with an a capella group (The Rockapellas).

After graduation, Kaling landed in New York. She took on her stage name when comedy club promoters had difficulty pronouncing her real last name. In the early '00s, she created an off-Broadway play called "Ben & Matt" – about the friendship of actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. She played Ben Affleck. Co-writer Brenda Withers played Matt Damon.

From 2004 – 2011, Kaling gained international fame playing office gossip Kelly Kapoor. Much like her on screen character's romance with Ryan (B.J. Novak), Kaling and actor-executive producer Novak maintained a similar relationship offscreen. As the seasons continued, Kaling also wrote and directed episodes of the show. During her tenure, the show was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy for five consecutive seasons.

In 2012, Kaling moved on to her own creation, "The Mindy Project," where she played an OB/GYN inspired by her mom. The sitcom ran for six seasons. At the same time, Kaling continued to appear in successful movies, including "Wreck-It-Ralph," "This Is the End," "Inside Out," and more.

In just the past few years, she's co-starred in an adaptation of the beloved children's book "A Wrinkle in Time," the heist film "Ocean's 8," and the comedy-drama "Late Night," which she also co-wrote and produced.

© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

The Movie to See

"Late Night" is a hilarious and heartfelt comedy-drama that is quintessential Mindy Kaling. The actress-writer-co-producer plays a staff writer for Emma Thompson's overbearing late-night talk show host Katherine Newbury. The duo bicker as much if not more than they sync, but it's in their sparks with each other and the industry where the film hits its truths. Here, as with all Kaling-penned projects, the performer knows that brutal reality is the best gold mine for sharp comedy.

© Amazon /courtesy Everett Collection

© Amazon /courtesy Everett Collection

What's Up Next

The second season of "Never Have I Ever" debuts in July 2021. She'll also voice Val Little in the upcoming Disney+ series "Monsters at Work," debuting on July 2, 2021. And for HBOMax, AAPI icon Mindy Kaling is the creator of 2021's "The Sex Lives of College Girls."

About the Author

Chuck Walton

Chuck Walton

Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.

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