25 Things About Mindy Kaling
Think you know everything there is to know about The Office writer and star Mindy Kaling? Think again!
Though she’s by no means new to show business, lately, everything has been coming up Mindy Kaling. The busy writer and star of the hit show The Office has been the subject of many an article and interview lately—and no wonder: her comic memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is gearing up for a big release on November 1. Think you know everything there is to know about Mindy Kaling? Think again! Here’s a crash course in everything you need to know about this hilarious gal.
1. Mindy’s full name is Vera Mindy Chokalingam. She was born on June 24, 1979 to Tamil parents from India in Cambridge, MA. Her father, Avu, is an architect, and her mother, Swati, is an ob/gyn.
2. So how did she get the name Mindy? Well, her mother got pregnant with her while her parents were living in Nigeria. They were already planning to move to the U.S., though, and they decided that they wanted a cute American name for their daughter. So they named her Mindy, which they got via the television show Mork & Mindy. Nanoo nanoo!
3. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mindy isn’t just funny—she’s smart, too. She went to the prestigious Buckingham Browne & Nichols school in Cambridge for high school before going on to Dartmouth for college.
4. She made her own curriculum when it came to comedy, though: On her own time, she did some hard-core studying of the sketch-comedy shows of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, including The Kids in the Hall, In Living Color, and Saturday Night Live.
5. She shortened her last name to Kaling early in her post-college standup comedy years in New York, mostly due to the annoying habit emcees had of joking about its unpronounceability.
6. Mindy cut her professional teeth on the New York theatre scene: In 2002, she and her roommate Brenda Withers wrote and performed a play called Matt & Ben at the New York International Fringe Festival. The play, which reimagined how Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote Good Will Hunting, became the surprise hit of the Fringe that year, leading to a restaging off-Broadway later that year and a spot on Time’s “Top 10 Theatrical Events of the Year.”
Matt & Ben at the New York Fringe Festival.
7. Mindy played Ben. Brenda played Matt. And the way they tell it, the screenplay of Good Will Hunting inexplicably fell from the ceiling of Ben Affleck’s apartment.
8. One night during Matt & Ben’s off-Broadway run, Mindy accidentally broke Brenda’s nose. But ever the consummate professionals, they just kept going, blood and all.
9. She moved to L.A. when she was only 24 and immediately joined the team of The Office. She was the only woman on a writing team of eight. (These days, The Office has a writing team of 18, four of whom are women.)
10. Mindy’s first apartment in L.A. was on Fairfax Avenue and Fountain Boulevard, which she unfortunately didn’t know was the nexus of transvestite social life in West Hollywood. She’s said that if her life at that time had been a sitcom, “an inebriated tranny gurgling, ‘Heeeeey, giiiirrrrrl!’ would have been my ‘Norm!’” Talk about life imitating art.
11. To date, she has written 22 entire episodes of The Office and has directed two.
12. Mindy has said that her character on The Office, Kelly Kapoor, is “an exaggerated version of what I think the upper-level writers on my show believe my personality is.” It’s valuable to be able to make fun of yourself!
More facts about Mindy, including her worst job ever and her thoughts on kombucha, up next!