Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

The Mindy Project Takes Off

Actor, writer, producer Mindy Kaling steps out of The Office and into the spotlight.
By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Mindy Kaling seems to move at the speed of light.

At 33, she is the creator, producer, head writer, and star of her own Fox network sitcom, The Mindy Project. Her growing fan base includes more than 2 million Twitter followers, at whom Kaling fires off tweets on topics as varied as shopping, friendship, and the revenge fantasies she has while jogging. Her collection of essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), became a best-seller last year when her only claim to fame was being a writer on and co-starring in the NBC series The Office.

Recommended Related to Women

7 Diet Mistakes and Fast Fixes

You were so good all week. But then you snuck a doughnut ... and then another. To get back on track quickly, start here.                                                                                                                                                               There's that dreaded point in every diet — for me, it's after the first 10 pounds — when you start to slack off a little. You skip lunch one Saturday, and later that night at a restaurant with your husband,...

Read the 7 Diet Mistakes and Fast Fixes article > >

If colleagues left in the dust are shaking their heads, Kaling shrugs off her heady ascension. "I'm an Asian kid who grew up the child of immigrants and went to an Ivy League school," she says, her high-pitched voice and rapid speech making her sound like an enthusiastic teenager rather than an industry heavyweight. "I'm a hyper-perfectionist and a people-pleaser."

Raised in Boston with her older brother Vijay by her OB/GYN mother Swati and architect father Avu, Kaling became interested in comedy as a teenager. She spent hours deconstructing movies and comedy skits. After graduating from Dartmouth College, she and her roommate Brenda Withers moved to New York and while looking for work wrote a comedic play called Matt & Ben, in which Kaling played Ben Affleck to Withers' Matt Damon. In 2002, it won top honors at the Fringe Festival. After moving off-Broadway, Time magazine named it among the "Top 10 Theatrical Events of the Year."

Producer Greg Daniels, just about to launch The Office, took note and hired the then 24-year-old as the show's sole female writer. During her eight-year tenure, the cast earned an Emmy nomination and she earned critical praise for her role as the narcissistic customer service representative Kelly Kapoor.

The Mindy Project

Last year, when the show entered its final season, Kaling made a pitch to Fox: She wanted to write, produce, and star in The Mindy Project, playing a romantic-comedy-obsessed OB/GYN in New York. Then Kaling boarded a plane to Boston, where she spent three months at the bedside of her mother, who was dying of pancreatic cancer. "In some ways, those were the most amazing three months," says Kaling, who describes her relationship with her mother as one of the most significant of her life.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Most patients are diagnosed at a late stage with a five-year survival rate of 2%. "No one is lucky to get cancer, but I remember feeling jealous of people who got a cancer where there were stages and you could do chemo to [treat] it," says Kaling, whose mother lived with the diagnosis for eight months.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

woman looking in mirror
Article
Woman resting on fitness ball
Evaluator
 
woman collapsed over laundry
Quiz
Public restroom door sign
Slideshow
 
Couple with troubles
Article
cat on couch
Evaluator
 
Young woman being vaccinated
Slideshow
woman holding hand to ear
Slideshow
 
Blood pressure check
Slideshow
mother and daughter talking
Evaluator
 
intimate couple
Article
puppy eating
Slideshow