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Mindy Kaling ‘had a reckoning’ after a ‘devastating’ remark from another writers room

A woman with long, black hair posing in an orange sweater
Mindy Kaling is photographed at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Prolific TV star and executive producer Mindy Kaling has opened up about an upsetting experience that unfolded while she was on NBC’s “The Office.”

In an interview Thursday on "Good Morning America,” Kaling recalled a moment when a co-worker in another writers room suggested their character should advise her character to lose 15 pounds. The unsolicited remark — made when she was just 25 — hit Kaling hard.

For the record:

9:05 a.m. Aug. 20, 2021An earlier version of this article reported that Mindy Kaling attributed a hurtful remark about her character’s weight to a costar on “The Office.” Kaling said the remark was made by a co-worker in a different writers room.

“This is my greatest insecurity and someone just called it out. It’s really devastating,” said the 42-year-old, who served as an actor, writer, director and co-executive producer on the seminal series.

“I had a reckoning where I’m like, ‘People are scrutinizing [me], and not only are they scrutinizing [me], they’re verbalizing their displeasure with how I look because I don’t look a certain way.’”

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Kaling — who delivered her breakout performance as the loquacious Kelly Kapoor in the workplace comedy — added that the comment particularly struck her during a time when she was waking up early to exercise in the mornings.

“That kind of dissonance has really affected so much of what I write about [and] the kind of characters I play,” she said on “GMA.” “Almost all of those kinds of things [in my work] come from something really real.”

Hot off the resounding success of the sophomore season of her groundbreaking teen dramedy “Never Have I Ever,” Kaling also reflected on the history of erasure of people who look like her onscreen.

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“On TV, if you were really thin, then you could be the lead,” she said. “Otherwise, you had to be like 250 pounds, and you had to be the slapstick comic relief. But what was crazy, what was left out, is just like this range of people which is a majority of American women over the age of 24.

“What if you’re like a [size] 12 and you want to just live your life and look cute and date? At that time, when I wrote [2011’s] ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’ it was like a no man’s land. That has really changed, I think.”

Kaling later made use of the incident as a gag on her show “The Mindy Project.”

On Thursday, Netflix ordered a third season of “Never Have I Ever,” the critically acclaimed high school series co-created by Kaling and starring Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as a spirited Indian American teen navigating grief and messy relationships in Southern California.

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"[It] makes me so happy that this show can be on Netflix, 40 million people can watch it, it’s No. 1 around the world and it stars a girl who is a young, dark-skinned Indian girl,” Kaling told “GMA.”

“She’s real, and she dates and boys like her, boys hate her, she goes in and out of drama, fights with her friends, but she’s normal and she’s the point-of-view character and so you can look to that and feel seen, to use a phrase that people much younger than me use.”


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