Dear Mindy Kaling,
My crush on you started with your role as Kelly Kapoor on “The Office” – a hilariously shallow shopaholic with a serious soft spot for Beyonce, AKA a more intense version of me. (I admit I don’t have Kelly’s knack for blatantly disregarding the feelings of others, but I’m working on it.) On a scale of Ryan Gosling movies, you quickly went from being “Murder By Numbers” (pretty cool and interesting) to “The Notebook” (OMFG best thing ever).
To say I was smitten is an understatement.
Prior to the release of your book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? The Concerns of Mindy Kaling,” I started reading your interviews and catching the promotional articles you were writing for this magazine and that. Every piece I read left me with this feeling of, “Hey, I could totally be BFFs with this girl, but I’m also crazy-inspired by her.”
By the time your book had come out, I was 23, had been laid off from my dream job at a newspaper, and was dealing with an as-of-yet undiagnosed case of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I spent most of my days online in a Harry Potter forum. I know, right? I was in a pretty dark place.
I was bouncing between making myself feel awful that I hadn’t accomplished more in my life and figuring out where to go next. Mostly, I just craved a break from the constant chatter in my brain. I put a lot of energy into counting down the days until your book would be released so I’d have something positive to focus on.
True that I was putting a lot of pressure on your book to take my mind off of things, but I needed something to look forward to, and it worked. I devoured the book in a day. (Not literally.) I giggled uncontrollably at some parts, and really felt for you in others, but what I really took away from it all was this: I want to be Mindy Kaling.
Not in the really creepy way, like, I want to break into your house and take over your life a la “Wicker Park.” But more like, wow, this woman is so cool and awesome and how can I emulate her great life decisions?
You helped me realize that sometimes careers start slow, and that’s okay. You’ll get where you going as long as you work really hard. You showed me what it was like to “make it” against the odds – being a woman of color in Hollywood (or anywhere, for that matter) comes with a set of obstacles and challenges, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get where you’re going. And your conversational, hilarious, sometimes self-deprecating, but beautifully touching writing style is what really pushed me over the edge to create a shrine in my bedroom dedicated to you. (Just kidding. That shrine is reserved for Beyonce, obvs.)
In the world of Tina Feys and Amy Poehlers – two amazingly hilarious feminist women who are very inspiring and among by favorite people, but, in case you hadn’t noticed, sort of white – I felt like I had a funny woman I could relate to. I was invested in your career and your success; I was dancing in the aisles right along with you while you and your three friends performed to “Jingle Bell Rock” onstage in the high school auditorium. (Gratuitous “Mean Girls” reference.)
The fact that shortly after your book was released you scored a deal to create your own television show, which you write, produce, direct, and star in – and happen to be the first South Asian woman to do so in the U.S., ever – only increased my admiration. I eagerly awaited the start of “The Mindy Project” and prayed to my Beyonce shrine that everyone would love it as much as I knew I would. (It seems to be working, so, yeah, you’re welcome.)
When I finally sat through the first episode, I was a mixture of thrilled, over stimulated (I was coveting that perfect glitter dress and I needed to tweet every moment and feeling), and touched. In a sea of shows depicting mostly white women, there you were, as the leading lady, totally rocking it.
At the end, when the show was all over, this image briefly came on the screen – it was of a girl hiding under her blankets reading a book on her bed and it read, “Kaling International, Inc.” I swear, seeing that image left me floating for days. For the first time while watching a show, ever, in my 24 years of life, I felt like I mattered. I exist. And I owe it to you. Thank you.
P.S. One time you favorited a tweet of mine and it was kind of my shining moment.
- 30 Hilarious Mindy Kaling Tweets That Will Make Your Day (thoughtcatalog.com)
- Mindy Kaling: I Wanna Dance to ‘Blurred Lines’, Top Optional! (justjared.com)
- The Unending Heartbreak of Great Expectations: Why I Can’t Watch The Mindy Project Anymore (crunkfeministcollective.com)