Mindy Kaling recently sat down for a candid interview in which she talked about how the Television Academy tried to strip her of a producer credit on The Office.
The actress-producer was one of the women featured in Elle magazine’s Women in Hollywood issue, in which she spoke about her time working as an actress, executive producer, director and writer during the NBC comedy’s nine-season run.
Kaling notes that during her tenure the Television Academy told her they would drop her from the producers list because there were too many producers listed on the series. The move would have resulted in Kaling being ineligible to accept an Emmy should the show win for best comedy series.
Kaling, who played Kelly Kapoor on The Office, told the magazine that at the time she was the only woman of color on the team and despite making the list of nominees for the show, she had to advocate for herself and prove her value.
“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,” Kaling told Elle. “I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself.”
She also explained that she is prone to dealing with adversities due to her ethnicity which keeps her “humble.” “In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate,’” said Kaling, also citing a quote by the late Toni Morrison. “It really doesn’t matter how much money I have … I’m treated badly with enough regularity that it keeps me humble.”
Reacting to the claims, an Academy spokesperson sent a statement sent to the Los Angeles Times saying: “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.”
Which prompted Kaling to take to Twitter to address the Academy’s statement, writing, “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?”
She also argued that 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’.”
Kaling continued to explain why she decided to speak out. “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,” she wrote. “Thankfully I was rescued by my friends, the other producers.”
Added Kaling: “The point is, we shouldn’t have [to] be bailed out because of the kindness [of] 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.”