Mindy Kaling On Being Female Boss & Refusing To Be An Outsider

mindy-kaling

Sure actress Mindy Kaling is a role model, a girlboss and super funny, but one thing she doesn’t want to be referred to as, is an “outsider”. It seems she is sick of answering the same type of questions about her body, her looks, her status as an Indian woman on network TV, but as far as she is concerned, she has way too much work to do to even consider herself a pioneer.

It seems a little harsh for her to be brushing off these issues, but when you have worked as hard as she has to break down stereotyped barriers in mainstream television in America, you just want to get on with continuing to make your job a success and not play the “tokenistic” card any more. We get it. But hey Mindy, we still honor you for being visible and present for so many young women who have been waiting years and years for a representation of themselves to be not only on primetime network TV, but also in a powerful position behind the scenes.

Mindy is the writer, creator and star of Fox’s ‘The Mindy Project’ which is in its third season, and also wrote and starred in ‘The Office’ on NBC. In an interview with NPR, she talks about being so busy with the day-to-day running of a successful TV show (she ius currently doing 3 people’s jobs in one human being’s body) that it is often these interviews which remind her not to long ago it would’ve been a very different story.

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“I often forget that … being Indian, an Indian-American woman who is not, sort of, pencil thin — that that is very new to broadcast television,” she said.

In the past she has spoken about being a role model and how she never wants to belittle the fact that there are other little Indian girls out there looking up to her, and in this interview she reiterates why it is important to her.

“I embrace it. I think I’ve always wanted to be a role model, and I think … everyone should try to live their life like they’d like to be a role model. I think it’s the thing keeping me out of jail. … It’s good for me mentally, selfishly, and it’s also nice to try to do that for, especially, younger women. I mean, it’s scary as hell. … I worry about it, but I think it’s a good thing to try to do.”

“I work so hard and so many hours, and I’ve done that for years and years and years. You know, I write a little bit about what it’s like to be a female boss in my book and the things I’ve noticed about that, but by and large, it’s just a tough job in general.”

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As for being referred to as a pioneer, that’s a term she wants to steer away from.

“I know why people are interested and I know why people want me to speak about it. But I sort of refuse to be an outsider, even though I know that I very much look like one to a lot of people, and I refuse to view myself in such terms.”

We suppose when you have been an outsider for so long, or been told you will never fit in because of who you are or the way you look, when you finally break through to get where you want to be, the notion of being an outsider isn’t as important, as being a good role model where you currently are.

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She talks about an incident which happened on twitter where a critic and other South Asian women were dissecting her show. They tweeted Mindy wondering why she wasn’t jumping in on the conversation, and she says to NPR that her job as an actor, writer, showrunner and being in charge of how her show is edited doesn’t leave much time for twitter battles with critics, and that it is funny people don’t always look at the bigger picture.

It kinda piggybacks on her dislike of the word “pioneer” because she says once you reach the top, it’s no time to rest. This is what makes her a badass female boss.

“I think as women, you know, if you are considered a pioneer in these things, you can get really distracted by these other things — you know, people’s demands of you reflecting on your otherness. I think that it’s insidious to be spending more of your time talking… about your otherness, rather than doing the hard work of your job.”

Check out the full audio of the interview below:

4 Comments

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