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Vera Mindy Chokalingam[1] (born June 24, 1979),[1] known professionally as Mindy Kaling, is an American comedian, actress, and writer. From 2005 to 2012, she played Kelly Kapoor in the NBC sitcom The Office. In addition to acting in it, she was a writer, executive producer, and director.[2] For her work on the series, she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series in 2010. She was one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2013, and of Glamour’s “Women of The Year” in 2014.

Mindy Kaling
Kaling smiling
Kaling at the 2019 Montclair Film Festival
Vera Mindy Chokalingam

(1979-06-24) June 24, 1979 (age 40)
ResidenceWest Hollywood, California, U.S.
EducationBuckingham Browne & Nichols
Alma materDartmouth College
OccupationActress, comedian, writer, producer, director
Years active2002–present
Home townBoston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Comedy career
MediumStand-up, television, film, books
Genressatire, improvisational comedy, sketch comedy, stand-up comedy
Subject(s)American culture, pop culture

Kaling gained wider attention for creating, writing, producing and starring in the Fox/Hulu comedy series The Mindy Project (2012–2017). She was also the co-creator, writer, and producer of the NBC sitcom Champions (2018) and the Hulu miniseries Four Weddings and a Funeral (2019).[3] Kaling's film career includes voice work in Despicable Me (2010), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), and Inside Out (2015). She had starring roles in the comedy The Night Before (2015), the fantasy adventure A Wrinkle in Time, the heist comedy Ocean's 8 (both 2018), and the comedy Late Night (2019).

In addition to her work in film and television, Kaling has written two New York Times best-selling memoirs, titled Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (2011) and Why Not Me? (2015).[4]

Early lifeEdit

Vera Mindy Chokalingam was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to father Avu Chokalingam, an architect, and mother Dr. Swati Chokalingam (née Roysircar), an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN).[5][6] Kaling's parents are from India[7] and met while working at the same hospital in Nigeria. Her father, a Tamilian raised in Chennai (Madras),[8][9] was overseeing the building of a wing of the hospital, and her mother, a Bengali raised in Mumbai,[8][9] was working as an OB/GYN.[10] The family immigrated to the United States in 1979, the same year Kaling was born.[2] Kaling's mother died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.[11][12][13] Kaling has one sibling, a brother, Vijay Jojo Chokalingam, who works as an educational consultant.

Kaling has said she has never been called Vera, her first name,[14] 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."[14] Kaling graduated from Buckingham Browne & Nichols, a private school in Cambridge, 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, was the creator of the comic strip Badly Drawn Girl in The Dartmouth (the college's daily newspaper), and was a writer for the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern (the college's humor magazine).[citation needed]

Kaling graduated from Dartmouth in 2001[15] with a bachelor's degree in playwriting.[16] She was a classics major for much of college and studied Latin, a subject she has been learning since the seventh grade.[10] Kaling lists the comedy series Dr. Katz, Saturday Night Live, Frasier and Cheers as early influences on her comedy.[17]


While a 19-year-old sophomore at Dartmouth, Kaling was an intern on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.[18][18] Kaling has said that she never saw a family like hers on TV, which gave her a dual perspective she uses in her writing.[19] She thinks the "everyone against me mentality" is what she learned as a child of immigrants.[19] She named her Mindy Project character Mindy Lahiri after author Jhumpa Lahiri.[20]

Kaling in 2008

After college, Kaling moved to Brooklyn, New York.[2] 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.[14] She described it as "depressing."[21] During this same time, Kaling performed stand-up comedy.[19]

Kaling devised her stage name after discovering while doing stand-up comedy that emcees would have trouble pronouncing her last name, Chokalingam, and sometimes made jokes about it.[19] She toured solo as well as with Craig Robinson before he was on The Office.[10]

In August 2002, Kaling portrayed Ben Affleck in an off-Broadway play called Matt & Ben,[22] 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.[2] Initially, Withers and Kaling had, "for their own entertainment, mockingly pretended 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."[2]

Kaling wrote a blog, Things I've Bought That I Love,[2] which reemerged on her website on September 29, 2011.[23] 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."[2]

The OfficeEdit

Kaling in 2009

In 2004, when The Office producer Greg Daniels was working to adapt The Office from the BBC TV series of the same name, he hired Kaling as a writer-performer after reading a spec script she wrote. He said, "She's very original ... If anything feels phony or lazy or passé, she’ll pounce on it."[2]

When Kaling joined The Office, she was 24 years old and was the only woman on a staff of eight.[2] She took on the role of character Kelly Kapoor, debuting in the series's second episode, "Diversity Day."[16]

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."[21]

Kaling directed The Office webisode The 3rd Floor.[24] 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.[25] 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.[2]

Kaling left the series after the ninth season episode "New Guys". However, she returned to guest star in the final episode of the series.

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 Daniels for the episode, "Niagara."[26]

The Mindy ProjectEdit

In 2012, Kaling pitched a single-camera comedy[27] to Fox called The Mindy Project, which Kaling wrote and produced.[28] Fox began airing the series in 2012.

Kaling notes that she is sometimes described as a pioneer, as there are not yet very many Indian-American women on television.[29] Fox canceled the series in May 2015 but it 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, which would air starting September 2017, would be the last.[30] The series concluded on November 14, 2017.

Kaling in 2013

Other workEdit


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.[16][21]

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 starred 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 and Disgust in Pixar's 2015 film Inside Out. 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 in 2012.

In 2017, NBC ordered Champions, where Kaling is a co-creator, writer, and producer.[3] She had a recurring guest role on the show, which premiered Thursday, March 8, 2018 on NBC.[31] It was cancelled after one season.

In 2018, she played Mrs. Who in A Wrinkle in Time, the live-action Disney adaptation of the novel, and starred alongside Helena Bonham Carter, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, and Rihanna in Ocean's 8, the all-female version of Ocean's Eleven.[32]


In 2011, Kaling published a memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), which appeared on the New York Times best-seller list.[33] 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 No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.[34]

Personal lifeEdit

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.[35]

In 2012, Kaling was included in the Time 100 list of influential people.[36] In 2014, she was named one of Glamour magazine's Women of the Year.[37]

Kaling is a 1% owner of the Welsh football team Swansea City A.F.C. based in Swansea, Wales in the UK.[38]

In December 2017, Kaling gave birth to a daughter,[39] whose godfather is B. J. Novak.[40]

On June 10, 2018, she received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.[41]



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 The Docent Shawn Levy
2010 Despicable Me The Tourist Mom Pierre Coffin
Chris Renaud
Voice, Cameo
2011 No Strings Attached Shira Ivan Reitman
2012 The Five-Year Engagement Vaneetha Nicholas Stoller
2012 Wreck-It Ralph Taffyta Muttonfudge Rich Moore Voice
2013 This Is the End Herself Seth Rogen
Evan Goldberg
2015 Inside Out Disgust Pete Docter Voice
2015 Riley's First Date? Disgust Josh Cooley Voice; short film
2015 The Night Before Sarah Jonathan Levine
2018 A Wrinkle in Time Mrs. Who Ava DuVernay
2018 Ocean's 8 Amita Gary Ross
2019 Late Night Molly Patel Nisha Ganatra Also writer and producer


Year Title Role Notes
2005–2013 The Office Kelly Kapoor Also writer, executive producer, and director
174 episodes
2005 Curb Your Enthusiasm Richard Lewis' Assistant Episode: "Lewis Needs a Kidney"
2012–2017 The Mindy Project Dr. Mindy Lahiri Also creator, writer, and producer
117 episodes
2014 Sesame Street Herself Episode #4505
2015 The Muppets Herself Episode: "Single All the Way"[42]
2017 Animals Sandy (voice) Episode: "Squirrels"
2018 Champions Priya Patel Also co-creator, writer, and producer
5 episodes[43]
2018 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Cindy Episode: "The Gang Makes Paddy's Great Again"
2019 Four Weddings and a Funeral N/A Co-creator, writer, and producer
12 episodes
2019 The Morning Show Audra 3 episodes

The Office writing creditsEdit

  1. "Hot Girl" (April 26, 2005) – Season 1
  2. "The Dundies" (September 20, 2005) – Season 2
  3. "The Injury" (January 12, 2006) – Season 2
  4. "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" (March 16, 2006) – Season 2
  5. "Diwali" (November 2, 2006) – Season 3
  6. "Ben Franklin" (February 1, 2007) – Season 3
  7. "Branch Wars" (November 1, 2007) – Season 4
  8. "Night Out" (April 24, 2008) – Season 4
  9. "Frame Toby" (November 20, 2008) – Season 5
  10. "Lecture Circuit: Part 1" (February 5, 2009) – Season 5
  11. "Lecture Circuit: Part 2" (February 12, 2009) – Season 5
  12. "Golden Ticket" (March 12, 2009) – Season 5
  13. "Niagara" co-written with Greg Daniels (October 8, 2009) – Season 6
  14. "Secret Santa" (December 10, 2009) – Season 6
  15. "The Manager and the Salesman" (February 11, 2010) – Season 6
  16. "Secretary's Day" (April 22, 2010) – Season 6
  17. "The Sting" (October 21, 2010) – Season 7
  18. "Classy Christmas" (December 9, 2010) – Season 7
  19. "Michael's Last Dundies" (April 21, 2011) – Season 7
  20. "Christmas Wishes" (December 9, 2011) – Season 8
  21. "Test the Store" (March 9, 2012) – Season 8

The Office directingEdit

  1. "Body Language" (April 29, 2010) – Season 6
  2. "Michael's Last Dundies" (April 21, 2011) – Season 7

Awards and nominationsEdit

In 2013, Entertainment Weekly identified Kaling as one of the "50 Coolest and Most Creative Entertainers" in Hollywood.[44] In the same year, Kaling was recognized by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.[26]

Year Ceremony Award Result Nominated work
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[45] Nominated
Individual Achievement in Comedy[45] 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?


  • Kaling, Mindy, and Brenda Withers. Matt & Ben: A New Play. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 2004; ISBN 978-1-585-67571-5
  • Kaling, Mindy. Unbelievable Holiday Tales: Scripting a Fantasy of a Family, The New York Times, December 18, 2009.[46]
  • Kaling, Mindy. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns), New York: Crown Archetype, 2011; ISBN 978-0-307-88627-9
  • Kaling, Mindy. Questions I Ask When I Want to Talk About Myself: 50 Topics to Share With Friends, Clarkson Potter, 2013; ISBN 978-0-449-81988-3
  • Kaling, Mindy. Why Not Me?, New York : Crown Archetype, 2015; ISBN 978-0-804-13814-7

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Mindy Kaling: Television Actress, Writer (1979–)". (FYI / A&E Networks). Archived from the original on April 19, 2018. Retrieved April 19, 2018. Additional archive on June 25, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Sittenfeld, Curtis (September 25, 2011). "A Long Day at 'The Office' With Mindy Kaling". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Mindy Kaling Has a New Show Coming to NBC". Time. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  4. ^ ""I am literally living the dream": Mindy Kaling on overcoming prejudice and finding success". Women in the World in Association with The New York Times - WITW. April 7, 2016. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  5. ^ Malcolm, Shawna (September 28, 2013). "Thoroughly Modern Mindy Kaling". Parade. Archived from the original on April 17, 2016. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  6. ^ Rodman, Sarah (September 25, 2012). "Mindy Kaling's mother inspired new TV 'Project'". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on March 9, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  7. ^ Coen, Jessica (December 12, 2011). "Mindy Kaling Visits Jezebel, Takes Your Questions". Jezebel. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Coen, Jessica. "Mindy Kaling Visits Jezebel, Takes Your Questions".
  9. ^ a b "I'm busy having fun: Mindy Kaling". 10 October 2013.
  10. ^ a b c Maron, Marc (March 12, 2012). "Episode 261 - Mindy Kaling" (Audio podcast). Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  11. ^ "Swati Chokalingam M.D.: Obituary". The Boston Globe. February 2, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  12. ^ "Swati Chokalingam - United States Social Security Death Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  13. ^ Cosgrove Baylis, Shelia (November 12, 2013). "Mindy Kaling: My Late Mom 'Was the Love of My Life'". People. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  14. ^ a b c Soroff, Jonathan. "Mindy Kaling interview in Improper Bostonian". The Improper Bostonian. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  15. ^ Dartmouth Staff (June 10, 2001). "List of Graduates". The Dartmouth. Retrieved January 28, 2015. As "Vera Chokalingam"
  16. ^ a b c Swiss, Zach (May 23, 2006). "Kaling '01 embarks on acting, writing career for 'The Office'". The Dartmouth. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  17. ^ Marchese, David (2019-06-10). "Mindy Kaling on Not Being the Long-Suffering Indian Woman". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  18. ^ a b O'Brien, Conan (November 7, 2012). "Mindy Kaling Was A Conan Intern - CONAN on TBS" (Video interview). Late Night with Conan O'BrienYouTube channel. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  19. ^ a b c d Ulaby, Neda (February 4, 2009). "On TV, Immigrants' Kids Mine Cultural Convergence". Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  20. ^ Kaling, Mindy (June 28, 2013). "Authors share their all-time favorite summer reads". Time. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  21. ^ a b c Phipps, Keith (April 4, 2007). "Mindy Kaling - Interview". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  22. ^ Weber, Bruce (August 12, 2003). "Theater Review; Bad Will Hunting, Armed With Venom Darts". The New York Times. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  23. ^ Kaling, Mindy (January 27, 2012). "Ongoing Concerns". The Concerns of Mindy Kaling. Archived from the original (Blog) on March 6, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  24. ^ "The Office Webisodes: The 3rd Floor". November 5, 2010. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  25. ^ Ausiello, Michael (September 15, 2011). "Scoop: Mindy Kaling Gets Major Office Promotion — But There's a Twist!". TVLine.
  26. ^ a b Helms, Ed (April 13, 2013). "The 2013 Time 100 - Mindy Kaling: Comedian and creator, 33". Time.
  27. ^ Soroff, Jonathan (2013). "Mindy Kaling: The star of The Mindy Project tells us about stereotypes and being a smart girl in Hollywood". The Improper Bostonian. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  28. ^ Ty, Kanara (February 1, 2012). "Fox picks up Mindy Kaling pilot". Asia Pacific Arts.
  29. ^ Martin, Rachel (October 16, 2014). "Mindy Kaling On Refusing To Be An Outsider And Sexism On Set" (Audio interview). Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  30. ^ Slane, Kevin (March 29, 2017). "Mindy Kaling's 'The Mindy Project' is ending after six seasons". Boston Globe Media Partners. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  31. ^ "Mindy Kaling explains why she wanted to tell a more male-centric story with 'Champions'". Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  32. ^ "That all-female Ocean's Eleven cast list adds three big names". The Independent. UK. June 10, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  33. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (April 22, 2010). "After 'Office' Hours, Mindy Kaling Writes a Book". The New York Times. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  34. ^ "Mindy Kaling". Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  35. ^ Burton, Summer Anne (February 7, 2014). "35 Times Mindy Kaling And B.J. Novak's Best Friendship Killed You In The Heart". Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  36. ^ Helms, Ed (2013), The 2013 TIME 100, New York: Time Inc., retrieved 30 August 2017
  37. ^ Angelo, Megan. "The Lady Boss: Mindy Kaling". Glamour. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  38. ^ Pritchard, Dafydd (December 17, 2017). "Mindy Kaling: US Office star is among Swansea City owners". Archived from the original on December 18, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  39. ^ Redmond, Caroline; Juneau, Jen (December 20, 2017). "Mindy Kaling Welcomes Daughter Katherine Swati". People. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  40. ^ "Mindy Kaling reveals B. J. Novak is the godfather to her daughter". People.
  41. ^ "Mindy Kaling (Doctor of Humane Letters) - Dartmouth News".
  42. ^ "The Muppets: Single All the Way - Watch Season 1 Episode 10". ABC.
  43. ^ "Champions -".
  44. ^ EW Staff (July 31, 2013). "This Week's Cover: The New Hollywood starring Mindy Kaling". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  45. ^ a b Slezak, Michael (May 27, 2014). "TCA Awards 2014: True Detective Snags Four Nominations; Good Wife, Breaking Bad Land Three Each". TVLine. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  46. ^ Kaling, Mindy (December 18, 2009). "Unbelievable Holiday Tales: Scripting a Fantasy of a Family". The New York Times. Retrieved January 28, 2015.

External linksEdit