Mindy Kaling took to Reddit for an AMA fan Q&A session on Thursday, and took some fans to task for questioning the diversity on her show, The Mindy Project.
“For a show produced by a woman of color, why does your show have very little diversity? (See Master of None for a show that does it right.),” one fan wrote. “Why are there very few men of color in your show?”
“I think I disagree with your premise,” Kaling, 36, responded. “We have six series regulars. One, the lead, is me, an Indian woman. Another is an African-American woman. That's a third of our cast - although of course I hate to think of us in those terms.”
The actress and producer noted that both Utkarsh Ambudkar and Randall Park recur on her show, which now streams on Hulu, but added, “I do think it's important though, we can always do better.”
Kaling has been called out in the past for having her character, Mindy Lahiri, primarily date white men, a criticism she also addressed.
“I always think it's funny that I'm the only [one] asked about this, when sitcoms I love with female leads rarely date men of color,” she responded. “I guess white women are expected to date white men. I'm expected to ‘stick to my own.’”
Another “fan” called out one of Kaling’s main characters, nurse Tamra Webb, played by Xosha Roquemore.
“Why did you decide to add a stereotypical 'sassy black woman' character to you show? (Although seemingly you decided to round out the character later after criticism.),” they asked.
“I'm sad you reduce her to a ‘sassy black woman,’” Kaling responded. “Xosha is hilarious and gorgeous and nails lines like ‘A cranberry turtleneck is what you give your aunt graduating from court reporter school.’”
Kaling compared Tamra's superficial tendencies to her own character from The Office, accountant Kelly Kapoor.
“Is it because Tamra wants to be famous and loves to perform at work and puts a value on superficial things?” she wondered. “I loved playing that as Kelly on The Office, and I love that Tamra is young, loves celebrity, and is confident and into herself. I hate that it's reduced to someone else's version of a racial stereotype.”
Kaling kept the conversation going on Twitter later, calling out a fan who said she was “tired” of Kaling and wished for Quantico star Priyanka Chopra to “become a star and snatch her coins.”
“Sad that there can only be one of us succeeding,” she wrote. “I love Priyanka’s work.”