Fans of the hit NBC show, The Office, know that there is no shortage of outrageous characters to get to know and love within the series. Of course, Michael Scott and Dwight Shrute lead the pack in sheer ridiculous antics, but there was also a lion share of talent within the supporting characters. One of the most memorable supporting characters is Kelly Kapoor, who literally puts the crazy in crazy in love. Kelly, the bubbly, shallow, fun, and love-obsessed customer service rep, is portrayed by the talented Mindy Kaling. The character is so good and so complex that is can be easy to forget that Kaling actually joined The Office not as an actress, but as a writer.
Kaling joined The Office when the show originally aired in 2005 as a writer. It was only when executive producer, Greg Daniels, saw an opportunity to use Kaling for the “Diversity Day” episode, that Kaling became part of the cast. Kaling admits that her time spent working on and writing for The Office was very monumental. In fact, her time in the writer’s room on the show actually served as inspiration for her new movie, Late Night, which the actress also wrote.
Starring Kaling and Emma Thomspon, Late Night follows a late-night talk show host on the brink of losing her job. She joins forces with her writers in a last-ditch attempt to make herself funnier and save her job. One standout writer is Kaling, who is the show’s diversity hire. Though Kaling admits that her time writing at The Office was nothing like that of her character has in Late Night, she does admit there are absolutely some parallels between her character’s experience and her own.
“I thought it was fun to actually talk about diversity hires in a really open way, because I was a diversity hire for The Office. “I came up through the NBC diversity hiring [program]. And I used to be so embarrassed about that. I was so embarrassed that people would know about it. And I wouldn’t tell anyone. … The other writers will think that was the only reason I was hired.” the actress admitted in a recent interview with The Guardian.
“What I didn’t realize then was that it wasn’t something to be ashamed of, that this really great organization was giving me something that other people have born access to, and I won’t ever be embarrassed about it again,” the talented writer said. It’s an empowering choice to take something that once sparked shame and create an impactful story around it.
Another element that Kaling brings to Late Night is the immense pressure people of color feel to always perform well because they feel they must represent their entire race. As opportunities are not as abundant, people of color are often convinced they must go above and beyond to prove that they belong. Though Kaling loved and appreciated her time working on The Office, she admits that she did struggle with being the only woman and the only person of color in the writer’s room.
“When I was at ‘The Office’ writers’ room and there was a lot of white men who I worked with, if they say something that’s not funny or doesn’t work, it’s not a reflection on white men. It’s just them, personally. But when I say something, my great fear is that they’ll look at it and say, ‘Oh, that’s what Indian women are like. Cause you’re like, ‘I wasn’t that good today, and now, like, billions of Indian people are being seen as unfunny, ’cause I was kind of tired today.’”‘ the 39-year-old said to CBS Sunday Morning.
We’re so excited to see this Office alum use her rich life experiences to further her expert storytelling. Stories that champion diversity are so important because they open up the dialogue about making sure a wide array of voices are heard. Catch Kaling’s unique voice on screen in Late Night, now playing in theatres.
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