Mindy Kaling is widely recognized as the writer, producer and star of the American version of the BBC hit sitcom “The Office” (NBC; 2005-Present), in which she plays the annoying, ultra-chatty and overly emotional pop-culture-obsessed customer service rep Kelly Kapoor. Making her professional writing and acting debut in the acclaimed off-Broadway play “Matt & Ben,” Mindy was once a guest writer for NBC's critically acclaimed, long-running comedy-variety show “Saturday Night Live.”
On the big screen, she could be seen in the films “The 40 Year Old Virgin” (2005), “Unaccompanied Minors” (2006) and “License to Wed” (2007).
Childhood and Family:
On June 24, 1979, Vera Chokalingam, who would be more popular as Mindy Kaling, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Mindy” is a given nickname that came from the sci-fi based sitcom “Mork & Mindy” (ABC; 1978-1982).
East Indian descendant Mindy graduated from Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, a private school, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1997. After graduation, she enrolled at Dartmouth College where she was a member of the Improv Troupe, the Dog Day Players. She graduated in 2001.
“There wasn't a big tradition of comedy at Dartmouth. More than that, there wasn't really anything artsy going on in Hanover or even in New Hampshire. The cool thing about the school is that there's nothing for people to watch, so if you were to do a play or a sketch or an improv troupe, it was always packed. There's nowhere else for anyone to go. But there was no comedy. The ‘Jack-O-Lantern’ was our comedy paper, but now that I work with all the Harvard Lampoon guys, you can't even compare it to what's going on at the ‘Lampoon.’” Mindy Kaling.
Mindy currently resides in Los Angeles. When asked how the city is treating her, Mindy said, “Now it's great. When you have a little disposable income, L.A. is a really great place to live. I have more friends now too, and a boyfriend. That's definitely made it a little easier.”
Mindy and Brenda
“I'm not good at anything except writing jokes. I wasn't good at sports, I wasn't good at anything artsy, ever. I think there was a real worry for a while about what I would be good at. I was just this chubby little Indian kid who looked like a nerd. I didn't have a ton of academic skills. It wasn't until I was in high school that I was like, 'I guess I like writing dialogue.' So that's how I got into it. And I loved 'SNL.' I wasn't like everyone else, I was a big 'SNL' nerd. I was allowed to watch it.” Mindy Kaling (on how she got into comedy)
While in college, Mindy Kaling joined an improvisational comedy troupe called “The Dog Day Players,” which penned skits for “The Rockapella,” a group formed at Brown University. She also drew her own comic strip called “The Badly Drawn Girl” for the college newspaper.
Following her graduation in 2001, Mindy pursued writing and acting and worked as a production assistant on such shows as “Crossing Over with John Edward.”
The next year, alongside her former college roommate Brenda Withers, Mindy co-wrote and co-starred in the acclaimed off-Broadway play “Matt & Ben,” in which she took on the role as Ben. The satirical two-woman stage show, about the early days of Oscar-winning Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, was named one of Time Magazines “Top Ten Theatrical Events of The Year” and was on Rolling Stone's “Hot List.” It won the New York International Fringe Festival's Best Play prize and went on to be a featured selection at the 2003 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen.
Mindy's work on the play attracted the attention of Greg Daniels who hired her for the writing staff of the American version of the BBC hit sitcom he executive produced, “The Office” (NBC; 2005-Present). Not long after, she stepped in front of the camera and became a regular character on the show.
As a writer, Mindy has written the episodes "Hot Girl," "The Dundies," "The Injury" (the recipient of the prestigious Media Access Award presented by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), "Take Your Daughter to Work Day," "Diwali" and "Ben Franklin" for the show. In the noteworthy episode “Diwali,” in which she appeared with Daniels, Mindy focused on her character celebrating her country’s Festival of Lights. Her work as a writer and performer on “The Office,” which won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series and a WGA Award (TV) from the Writers Guild of America, in addition to a nomination at the Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series.
In 2005, Mindy received her first on-screen role in a feature film in the Judd Apatow directed comedy “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” thanks to her exposure and a recommendation by “The Office” co-star Steve Carell who co-produced, co-wrote and starred in the film. That same year, she was spotted as a guest in the fifth-season episode “Lewis Needs a Kidney” of HBO’s sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” playing the assistant of neurotic, recovering alcoholic stand-up comedian Richard Lewis.
The next year, Mindy had a tiny part as a restaurant hostess in Paul Feig's comedy movie starring Lewis Black and Wilmer Valderrama, “Unaccompanied by Minors,” which was based on a true story by Susan Burton. “The Office” co-stars B.J. Novak and David Koechner also appeared in the film. She also teamed up again with her old friend Brenda to produce and write the comedy television movie “Mindy and Brenda.”
Mindy was also considered by producers to join NBC's critically acclaimed, long running comedy-variety show “Saturday Night Live” and flew to New York for an audition. However, due to her contractual obligations to “The Office,” she turned down the offer. She eventually became a guest writer for the show in April 2006.
She recalled, “Just before the season started, I came out to audition. They didn't offer me a part, but the audition went pretty well and that night, they were like, 'Do you want to come write for the show?' Greg [Daniels; “The Office” executive producer] used to write for 'SNL,' and he had known that being on 'SNL' was my great dream. He said, 'Listen, if you get cast on the show, I'll let you break your contract and go do it. But if they ask you to write, I can't, because you have a job writing here, plus you're on the show. So I'm not going to let you leave the show so you can go be in New York.' At that time, I missed New York so badly. I hated L.A. for a long time and I wanted to leave it. I had these fantasies of going to 'SNL' and falling in love with some writer on 'SNL,' of getting married and living in New York. That was really heartbreaking to have to turn down, but then I got to guest write in the spring.”
Recently, in February 2007, Mindy appeared as a guest on NBC's talk show “Late Night with Conan O'Brien.” She also played a small role in Ken Kwapis' romantic comedy film starring Robin Williams, Mandy Moore and “The Office” co-star John Krasinski, “License to Wed.” The film was released in the United States on July 3, 2007.
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, "The Office," 2007
Writers Guild of America: WGA Award (TV)--Comedy Series, "The Office," 2007