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Vera Mindy Chokalingam (born June 24, 1979), known professionally as Mindy Kaling, is an American actress, comedian, and author. The creator and star of the Hulu sitcom The Mindy Project (which originally aired on Fox), she also works as an as executive producer and writer on the show. Kaling is also known for her work on the NBC sitcom The Office, where she portrayed the character Kelly Kapoor; in addition to acting on the show, Kaling was a writer, executive producer, and occasional director for the show throughout most of its run. In addition to her work on television, Kaling has written two books of essays which each have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.Contents
Kaling was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to parents from India, Avu Chokalingam, an architect, and Dr. Swati Chokalingam, an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN).
Kaling's parents met while working at the same hospital in Nigeria. Her father was overseeing the building of a wing of the hospital and her mother was working as an OB/GYN. The family emigrated to the United States in 1979, the same year Kaling was born. Kaling's mother died of pancreatic cancer in 2012. Kaling has a brother, Vijay Jojo Chokalingam.
Kaling graduated from Buckingham Browne & Nichols, a private school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1997. The following year, she entered Dartmouth College, where she was a member of the improvisational comedy troupe "The Dog Day Players" and the a cappella group "The Rockapellas", creator of the comic strip "Badly Drawn Girl" in The Dartmouth (the college's daily newspaper), and a writer for the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern (the college's humor magazine).
Kaling graduated from Dartmouth in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in playwriting. She was a classics major for much of college and studied Latin, a subject she has been learning since the 7th grade.Career
While a 19-year-old sophomore at Dartmouth, Kaling was an intern on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Kaling said she was a terrible intern, "less of a 'make copies' intern and more of a 'stalk Conan' intern."
After college, Kaling moved to Brooklyn. Kaling said one of her "worst job" experiences was as a production assistant for three months on the Crossing Over With John Edward psychic show. She described it as "depressing". During this same time, Kaling did stand-up in New York City.
In August 2002, Kaling portrayed Ben Affleck in an off-Broadway play called Matt & Ben, which she co-wrote with her best friend from college, Brenda Withers—who played Matt Damon. The play was named one of Time magazine's "Top Ten Theatrical Events of The Year" and was "a surprise hit" at the 2002 New York International Fringe Festival. Initially, Withers and Kaling had, "for their own entertainment, mockingly pretend to be the best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck; that pretending spawned 'Matt & Ben', the goofy play that reimagined how Damon and Affleck came to write the movie Good Will Hunting".
Kaling wrote a popular blog called "Things I've Bought That I Love", which reemerged on her website on September 29, 2011. The blog was written under the name Mindy Ephron, "a name Kaling chose because she was amused by the idea of her 20-something Indian-American self as a long-lost Ephron sister".The Office Kaling in 2008
In 2004, when The Office producer Greg Daniels was working to adapt The Office from the BBC show of the same name, he hired Kaling as a writer-performer after reading a spec script she wrote. "She's very original ... If anything feels phony or lazy or passé, she’ll pounce on it."
When Kaling joined The Office, she was 24 years old and was the only woman on a staff of eight. She took on the role of character Kelly Kapoor, debuting in the series’ second episode, "Diversity Day." She wrote "Niagara", for which she was co-nominated for an Emmy with Greg Daniels. Credited with twenty-five episodes, Kaling is the most prolific writer on the staff.
In a 2007 interview with The A.V. Club, she stated that "Kelly" is "an exaggerated version of what I think the upper-level writers believe my personality is." After the "Diwali" episode, Kaling appeared with Daniels on NPR's Fresh Air.
Kaling directed The Office webisodes The 3rd Floor. She directed the season 6 episode titled "Body Language", which marked her television directorial debut. Her contract was set to expire at the end of Season 7. On September 15, 2011, she signed a new contract to stay with the show for Season 8 and was promoted to full Executive Producer status. Her Universal Television contract included a development deal for a new show (eventually titled The Mindy Project), in which she appears as an actress and contributes as a writer.
Kaling and her fellow writers and producers of The Office were nominated five consecutive times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. In 2010, she received a nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series with Greg Daniels for the episode, "Niagara".The Mindy Project
In 2012, Kaling pitched a single-camera comedy to Fox called The Mindy Project, which was written and produced by Kaling. Fox began airing the series Tuesdays at 9:30 Eastern Time starting in 2012.
Kaling notes that she is sometimes described as a pioneer, as there are not yet very many Indian-American women on television.Kaling in 2009
The series was canceled by Fox in May 2015 but was later picked up by Hulu for a 26 episode fourth season and a 16 episode fifth season. In March 2017, Kaling announced that the show's sixth season, due to air starting September 2017, would be the final season.Upcoming comedy series
In November 2016, ABC announced that Kaling and Ed Weeks (co-star in The Mindy Project) would be teaming up to executive produce a comedy series that ABC has given script commitment to as well as ordering a pilot and penalty. Weeks co-wrote the comedy with Hannah Mackay and the untitled single-camera comedy centers on liberal lesbian couple Laurel and Marisa who move with their teenage son to Laurel's conservative hometown in Kansas to find that their assumptions about Middle America might just be wrong.Other work Acting
Kaling's TV appearances include a 2005 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, playing Richard Lewis's assistant. She is featured on the CD Comedy Death-Ray and guest-wrote parts of an episode of Saturday Night Live in April 2006.
After her film debut in The 40-Year-Old Virgin with Steve Carell, Kaling appeared in the film Unaccompanied Minors as a waitress. In 2007 she held a small part in License to Wed starring fellow The Office actors John Krasinski, Angela Kinsey, and Brian Baumgartner. Kaling was in the 2009 film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian as a Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum tour guide and voiced Taffyta Muttonfudge in Disney's animated comedy film Wreck-It Ralph. In 2011 she played the role of Shira, a doctor who is a roommate and colleague of the main character Emma (played by Natalie Portman) in No Strings Attached. Kaling also made an appearance as Vanetha in The Five-Year Engagement (2012). Kaling also voiced Disgust in the 2015 Pixar animated film Inside Out.
In June 2016, it was confirmed that Kaling would star alongside Helena Bonham Carter, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Rihanna in Ocean's Eight, the all-female version of Ocean's Eleven. It was also reported in September 2016 that she will play Mrs. Who in A Wrinkle in Time, the live-action Disney adaptation of the novel.Writing
In 2011, Kaling published a memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), which continues to be featured in The New York Times Best Seller list and USA Today best seller list Her second book, Why Not Me?, covers the many events that have happened in her life since 2011, and was published on September 15, 2015. Why Not Me? launched at #1 on The New York Times Best Seller list In 2015, Mindy Kaling acknowledged that she would be writing a third book with B. J. Novak, who she has long been associated with after acting and writing together on The Office.Personal life
Kaling has said she has never been called Vera, her first name, but has been referred to as Mindy since her mother was pregnant with her while her parents were living in Nigeria. They were already planning to move to the United States and wanted, Kaling said, a "cute American name" for their daughter, and liked the name Mindy from the TV show Mork & Mindy. The name Vera is, according to Kaling, the name of the "incarnation of a Hindu goddess."
Kaling has a close friendship with B.J. Novak, whom she met through writing for The Office. The two dated on and off while writing and acting on the show, sometimes mirroring the on-again, off-again nature of the relationship between their respective characters Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor. Novak served as a consulting producer for Season 1 of The Mindy Project, and has appeared on the show four times. His brother Jesse composes the music for The Mindy Project.
Kaling devised her stage name after discovering while doing standup comedy that emcees would have trouble pronouncing her last name, Chokalingam, and sometimes made jokes about it. She toured solo as well as with Craig Robinson before he was on The Office.
Kaling has said that she never saw a family like hers on TV, which gave her a dual perspective she uses in her writing. The "everyone against me mentality" is what she thinks she learned as a child of immigrants. She named her Mindy Project character Mindy Lahiri after author Jhumpa Lahiri.
In 2012, Kaling was named one of Time magazine's most influential people and in 2014 was named one of Glamour magazine's women of the year./>
On July 17, 2017, it was announced that Kaling is pregnant with her first child.Filmography Film Year Title Role Director Notes 2005 The 40 Year Old Virgin Amy Judd Apatow Film debut 2006 Unaccompanied Minors Restaurant Hostess Paul Feig 2007 License to Wed Shelly Ken Kwapis 2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Docent Shawn Levy 2010 Despicable Me Tourist Mom Pierre Coffin
In 2013, Entertainment Weekly identified Kaling as one of the "50 Coolest and Most Creative Entertainers" in Hollywood. In the same year, Kaling was recognized by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.Year Group Award Status Film/Television series 2005 Writers Guild of America Awards New Series Nominated The Office Comedy Series Nominated 2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won New Series Comedy Series Won 2007 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won New Series Episodic Comedy – for episode Local Ad Nominated Comedy Series Nominated Asian Excellence Awards Supporting Television Actress Won 2008 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated New Series Comedy Series Nominated 2009 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated Prism Awards Performance in a Comedy Series Nominated 2010 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, "Niagara" Nominated 2012 Writers Guild of America Awards New Series Nominated The Mindy Project Peoples Choice Awards Favorite New TV Comedy Nominated Critics' Choice Television Awards Most Exciting New Series Won 2013 Gracie Awards Outstanding Producer - Entertainment Won NAACP Image Award Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated TCA Awards Outstanding New Program Nominated Teen Choice Awards Choice TV: Breakout Show Nominated Choice TV Actress: Comedy Nominated 2014 Gracie Awards Outstanding Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Won NAACP Image Award Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Nominated TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated 2015 Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Series Won Reader's Choice Awards Reader's Choice Award for Best Humor Book Won Why Not Me? Works and publications