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Mindy Kaling had to work hard to achieve greatness in Hollywood — sometimes, much harder than her male colleagues.
As fans know, the Late Night star rose to fame playing Kelly Kapoor on The Office, on which she also served as a writer and producer. Mindy had been on the show’s cast and writing staff since production first began, then started producing at the start of the show’s third season.
Naturally, being a producer came with more work — but during awards season, the 40-year-old claims she had to work harder than the rest of her colleagues to get the recognition she deserved.
In a cover story for Elle magazine’s Women in Hollywood November 2019 issue, Kaling said there were too many producers on The Office when the sitcom was nominated for an Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy in 2007 — so, the Television Academy was going to cut her from the list.
This would have made her the only producer on the staff ineligible for an Emmy. Mindy wasn’t about to let that happen, so she set out to prove herself worthy.
“They made me, not any of the other producers, fill out a whole form and write an essay about all my contributions as a writer and a producer. I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself.”
Ugh. The only woman of color on the team had to be endorsed by her white male colleagues? Just because? Color us woefully unsurprised.
Kaling did the extra work and ended up joining the list of 11 producers, including two other women, after all — but The Office lost the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series that year to 30 Rock.
The series was nominated in the same category over the next five years, but the only time it won the award was in 2006 — the year Kaling started her tenure as a producer. She wasn’t eligible to be nominated at the time.
Overall, Mindy has been nominated for six Emmys, all of which came from her work on The Office. She earned 5 nominations as a producer — and later a co-executive producer — in the Outstanding Comedy Series category, and one nod for Writing – Comedy Series in 2010.
It’s no secret the system is unfair. But we’re sure Mindy would say all that extra hard work paid off — right?
For what it’s worth, the Television Academy said the move wasn’t personal:
“No one person was singled out. There was an increasing concern years ago regarding the number of performers and writers seeking producer credits. At the time the Producers Guild worked with the Television Academy to correctly vet producer eligibility. Every performer producer and writer producer was asked to justify their producer credits.”
She rightfully responded to this via social media, sharing:
“Respectfully, the Academy’s statement doesn’t make any sense. I *was* singled out. There were other Office writer-performer-producers who were NOT cut from the list. Just me. The most junior person, and woman of color. Easiest to dismiss. Just sayin’.”
She went on in a thread, saying:
“I’ve never wanted to bring up that incident because The Office was one of the greatest creative experiences of my life, and who would want to have an adversarial relationship with the Academy, who has the ongoing power to enhance our careers with awards?
But I worked so hard and it was humiliating. I had written so many episodes, put in so much time in the editing room, just to have the Academy discard it because they couldn’t fathom I was capable of doing it all. Thankfully I was rescued by my friends, the other producers.
The point is, we shouldn’t have be bailed out because of the kindness our more powerful white male colleagues. Not mentioning it seemed like glossing over my story. This was like ten years ago. Maybe it wouldn’t happen now. But it happened to me.”
Well, there you have it!
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