I am not going to lie to you guys, when I got the email asking me to interview Mindy Kaling on the set of the new-to-Hulu show “The Mindy Project”, I did back flip (total lie- if I tried, I would probably die but it FELT like I did). You see, like many of you, I have big plans of making her my bestie and then we would have a Nora Ephron-esque friendship a la Meg Ryan/Rosie O’Donnell or Meg Ryan/Carrie Fisher or Meg Ryan and… well, you get it. Except we would be darker, curvier and way more stylish. #squadgoals
So, of course I said yes, and then I proceeded to park myself in front of my couch to binge all three seasons of network Mindy plus the first episode of Hulu Mindy. That first episode!!! I cried so many happy tears that my husband thought we won the lottery or something (sorry babe). Just wait til you see it on September 15th when it premieres on Hulu, you’ll weep happy tears too. Now, fast forward to the day of, and there I am sitting in Dr. Mindy Lahiri, MD OB/Gyn ‘s office when Mindy Kaling walks in, looking beautiful, stylish and ready to take on the world. Or, in our case, two bloggers who think she is the best thing since ice cream was invented.
Mindy was everything. She’s not Kelly Kapoor, nor is she Mindy Lahiri, though, you could see little flickers of each characters in her smile. Mindy was kind, direct and thoughtful, and had I not flubbed over myself a few times (but how can you not?), I can assure you, we’d be sipping margaritas by the pool right this second. Next time Mindy!
Read on to see what Mindy Kaling had to say about Hulu, Motherhood, Diversity and more.
How has the transition been going from network to Hulu?
Mindy Kaling: It’s great! It’s so liberating! It’s so fun to be in a place without a lot of the restrictions, as we did when we were on a network. Overall I think the biggest feeling is the love that I get from the heads of Hulu for the show–the way they just nurture it and help make it the best show that it can be. It’s really unusual and great. It makes me wonder why we didn’t do this years and years ago. I’m very happy at Hulu!
So, we get to see Mindy transition into parenthood, and a new level with Danny. What are you excited to explore in this new terrain with Mindy?
Mindy Kaling: What am I most excited to explore? I think Mindy and Danny as parents. They’re so independent as characters, so I think seeing them as parents will be good. And honestly nothing is more becoming on a character than love for a child, and I think especially with Danny. It’s incredibly appealing to see a character, who two years ago said they weren’t ever going to have a child, have a kid. So that is really fun to see – that transformation.
What has been the most interesting thing you found out about motherhood in the process of playing a pregnant woman and then a new mom?
Mindy Kaling: Just how, when the baby is in the room with you, just that, the focus is always on the baby. It’s the most important thing in any scene. That was really great for me as an actress, to act with a baby. It changes the way you speak and things you want to talk about. In general, the character, and I think this is great, I tend to think that people don’t change. And I think, that when you have a baby, different parts of your personality adapt to it and we’ve certainly written the character that way, and that’s been my experience in doing research for this part. You kind of, get transformed but with the baby. That’s been really fun, the way, seeing how she used to be about boyfriends and love, how that turns now into this baby, who she loves more than herself, and it’s the first thing she’s ever loved more than herself- so it’s been kinda cool.
I love how you have spoken often how no one was creating roles for someone like you, so you went out and created one, and now you have this huge hit show…
Mindy Kaling: Oh, thank you!
It’s incredible! In the excerpt I read, you talk about how confidence comes from entitlement. But do you feel that entitlement also equates responsibility, and to kind of pay it forward to open up more roles for diverse actors?
Mindy Kaling: Yea, absolutely. I believe that excerpt was from my book, I got into this business because I have the dream of writing and acting. What I didn’t know, and no one tells you, is that after you’re lucky enough to be the kind of person who gets to keep working, and you’re lucky enough to have your own show, that creating opportunities for other people and creating places where people who look different than the average person on television must come from one thing only which is wanting to create really good television. It actually doesn’t come from the philanthropic, altruistic reasons.
Like for me the benefit of having people, like Xosha (Roquemore, who plays Tamara), on the show, or having women writers or minority writers or gay writers is one thing which is that no one else is doing it. You will have a competitive advantage if you do it because you’re going to be putting something out there that no one else has.
Xosha, as a character, and we play her as a mid-twenties millennial character who lives in New York City, has modeled and has all these experiences. Some of the time we borrow from Xosha and no other show is doing that. I found Xosha because she was on the movie Precious, I would say probably the least funny movie ever, she was the one funny character in it. I thought ‘what would she be like in a completely different circumstance?’ The average person casting comedy shows today isn’t looking at Precious going, which is almost a 100% African American cast, and saying ‘who can we discover to be in a comedy show?’ But I did it. While I love Xosha and giving her the opportunity, I did it because this is not something people get to see. I want to have the competitive advantage. Shonda Rhimes is casting people with a diverse cast because she knows that it’s a good business decision. So that to me has been the secret to all that.
I’ve heard you say that you wouldn’t go too crazy with the new “freedom” that moving to Hulu provides. However, how will be using that freedom to your advantage?
Mindy Kaling: We wanted to do a show, that for people who loved it already, it wouldn’t turn into like “I can’t watch this with my teenage daughter anymore, it’s not appropriate” and I don’t want to do a show that women can’t watch or feel alienated from.
We don’t use any “bad words” or anything, but we can have the characters talk a little bit more colloquially and the biggest advantage is, actually, the length of time. It’s very hard to tell a story, and I’ve tried it between the office and when the show was at Fox. It’s very hard to tell an episode of TV in 21.5 minutes. So that is the biggest thing, I want the episodes to breathe and to give characters like Ike, like Xosha, like Ed, their opportunity to score.
You’ve directed a few episodes in The Office, would you be open to directing a film, or even a few episodes of The Mindy Project?
Mindy Kaling: Yea, you know, I love the experience of directing. The reason I don’t do it on this show is because one, we have so many talented directors that want to do it, and also, I think that it was easier in The Office cause my part was so much smaller, but here, my responsibilities are so much more in terms of I edit every episode myself and because I literally have so much more lines. It felt like, something would get sacrificed if I directed here cause there’s too many things going on but in terms of directing a feature, I would love to write and direct a movie. that would be a really fun next challenge.
The Mindy Project Season 4 premieres September 15th on Hulu.