Mindy Kaling is only three years younger than me, but she’s already 10 times the woman I will ever be. The star of The Mindy Project (season six is currently airing on SBS) is a famous comedian, author of two books, outspoken feminist, proud woman of colour, fashion pioneer, diversity advocate… and her incredible home (aka the house of my dreams) has just been featured in Architectural Digest.
Basically, she's everything I’ve ever wanted to be. I mean, just look at these statistics:
Books written: Kaling 2, Winston 0
Self-titled television shows: Kaling 1, Winston 0
Homes featured in Architectural Digest: Kaling 1, Winston 0
You get the idea.
I first noticed Kaling when she played Kelly Kapoor in The Office. As an Aussie-born woman of Indian descent, it was so refreshing to see an American-born woman of Indian descent onscreen, rather than an Indian immigrant stereotype. Kelly Kapoor also participated in one of the first normalised interracial relationships of recent years (where race wasn’t the focus) with Ryan Howard, played by comedian BJ Novak, who would eventually become Kaling’s real-life soul mate.
So naturally, I needed to find out more about who exactly this Kaling chick was. I read her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? It was easily one of the most relatable books I’ve ever read. I could identify with Kaling’s middle-class immigrant family and her experience of existing between two cultures. I spat-laughed a lot of coffee onto those pages, Kaling is that funny.
Kaling is a champion of self-mockery, and she walks the fine line between outright narcissism and crippling paranoia that many of us walk, except she truly owns it. She also uses her sharp wit to comment on the lack of diversity – both gender and racial – on American screens, as well as her journey as a female, non-white comedian going through the ranks, from small comedy troupe to a writer on Late Night With Conan O’Brian and then to finally a star in (and the first female writer for) The Office.
But it wasn’t until she became a writer, producer and director of her own show, The Mindy Project, that Kaling was able to make her most personal statements about social issues such as gender equality, workplace bias and the WOC experience, and do so in the most honest and hilarious way.
Via her character, Mindy Lahiri, Kaling made it clear women of colour matter and all women are allowed to be in control – of themselves, at work and in their relationships. They can sleep with whoever they want (and have interracial relationships without race being an issue), eat what they like and like themselves as much as they doubt themselves.
But what I love the most is Kaling’s strong message that women can care about how they look, love fashion, play with makeup and still command respect. That perfect balance is on vibrant display in The Mindy Project and in Kaling’s Instagram. And just FYI, each stunning outfit after stunning outfit does not, in any way, give me wardrobe envy.
Because of course, while Kaling might have this wardrobe because she’s worked her butt off for more than a decade, I’ve been raising a child during that time and as a divorced parent for the majority of it. That’s my excuse for my decidedly unglamorous (aka totally lame) Instagram.
But of course, as is typical of my relationship with Kaling, the woman extraordinaire has recently announced she is pregnant. Once again, she is clearly doing things better than I did. She’s nailing pregnancy fashion and not just wearing oversized U2 T-shirts from the '90s with leggings like I did.
But even more than that, Kaling’s pregnancy has quietly made her biggest statement to date – confirming that she’s an utterly independent woman and can have a baby without being in a relationship. And while that is courageous and impressive, it’s also another way Kaling has one-upped me – taking sole parenthood one step further, by being totally ballsy and not succumbing to the institution of marriage and societal expectations first.
Although it’s another dent in my inferiority complex, it’s not really surprising. Because Kaling is proof that if you want something, you can make it happen, you can take care of yourself and make all of your own dreams come true.
And look utterly fabulous while doing it.
The Mindy Project airs Tuesdays at 10:15pm on SBS VICELAND. Episodes will be available by 2pm on SBS On Demand.
Watch the latest episode here: