June 24, 1979
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
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While it was on the U.S. television iteration of the popular sitcom "The Office" (NBC, 2004-2013) that Mindy Kaling first became known to audiences, it was the seemingly unlimited abilities of this talented actress-writer-producer that made her one of the most sought-after young talents in Hollywood. Initially hired as a staff writer on the series, Kaling soon found herself thrust in front of the camera in the role of the chatty, self-absorbed Kelly Kapoor. As both Kaling's character and her scripted episodes gained popularity, she rose through the ranks behind the scenes on the series, later becoming an executive producer for "The Office." Soon she was appearing in such films as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005), "License to Wed" (2007) and "No Strings Attached" (2011), in addition to publishing a comedic memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) that same year. After eight memorable seasons on "The Office," Kaling departed to embark on her next adventure, as the star and executive producer of the sitcom "The Mindy Project" (Fox, 2012- ). Possessed with enough talent and charm for three people, Kaling was merely at the start of what was sure to be a long and enviable career.
Kaling was born in 1979 and raised in Cambridge, MA, where she attended private school at Buckingham Browne & Nichols. After graduation, she enrolled at Dartmouth College and pursued an array of creative interests, but mainly focused on acting and writing. She joined an improvisational comedy group called "The Dog Day Players," wrote skits for "The Rockapella," an a cappella group formed at Brown University, and drew her own comic strip, "The Badly Drawn Girl," for The Dartmouth. After graduating in 2001, Kaling pursued writing and acting while working as a production assistant on such shows as "Crossing Over with John Edward" (Sci-Fi, 2000-04) while periodically babysitting to pay the bills. Struck by the meteoric rise to fame of stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Kaling and her former college roommate, Brenda Withers, penned "Matt & Ben," a satirical play about the two Oscar-winning friends trying to write a screenplay adaptation of J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye," circa 1995. Kaling was both funny and oddly believable in the Affleck role.
In the audience during one of the performances of "Matt and Ben" was Greg Daniels, who was impressed with Kaling as a writer-performer. Daniels was working on filling the writing and acting rosters for the American version of the BBC hit, "The Office" and hired Kaling for the writing staff. But as with most of Daniels' writers, Kaling was thrust before the camera and soon became a regular character on the show. Her first episode, "Diversity Day," introduced Kaling as Kelly Kapoor, a self-involved Indian-American prone to emotional outbursts and talking incessantly about pop culture. She went on to portray the gregarious Kelly as having cheerful cluelessness, most evidenced with her crush on co-worker Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak), who only begrudgingly return her affections. As a writer, Kaling penned the noteworthy episode, "Diwali," which focused on her character celebrating her country's Festival of Lights, ending with a rousing rendition of the "Diwali Song" sung by Steve Carell, a hilarious parody of Adam Sandler's "Chanukah Song."
Thanks to her regular exposure and a recommendation by castmate Carell, Kaling appeared in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005) as the ex-girlfriend of Paul Rudd and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ) in the fifth-season episode "Lewis Needs a Kidney," playing the assistant of comedian Richard Lewis. After a bit role as a restaurant hostess in the comedy "Unaccompanied by Minors" (2006), Kaling was considered by producers to join "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) and flew to New York for an audition. But because of her contractual obligations to "The Office," she turned down the offer, though Kaling did accept an opportunity to be a guest "SNL" writer in April 2006. She also had a small role in the romantic comedy "License to Wed" (2007), which featured "Office" co-stars John Krasinski and Angela Kinsey. On the big screen, she had a small part in "Night at the Musuem: Battle of the Smithsonian" (2009) before joining Carell on "Despicable Me" (2010) to provide the voice for a tourist mother. Meanwhile, she received her first Emmy nomination in the writing category for the "Office" episode "Niagara," which she co-wrote with Greg Daniels.
Busier than ever, the in-demand Kaling picked up another supporting role as Natalie Portman's roommate in the romantic comedy "No Strings Attached" (2011) and saw her comedic memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) published in 2011. To the dismay of longtime fans of the show, Kaling announced that the eighth season of "The Office" would be her last, as she was devoting her full attentions to a new sitcom that she was developing. Shortly after making an appearance in the Jason Segel-Emily Blunt romantic comedy "The Five-Year Engagement" (2012), Kaling's next television endeavor, "The Mindy Project" (Fox, 2012- ), was officially announced for the fall schedule. The sitcom - which Kaling starred in, executive-produced and co-wrote - about a single doctor with a unique perspective on her personal and professional lives, was inspired by the actress' mother, who was an OB/GYN.