Mindy Kaling is opening up about an injustice she claims she experienced at the hands of the Television Academy while working on the hit sitcom, The Office.
In Elle's new Women in Hollywood issue, 40-year-old Kaling says that, while playing Kelly Kapoor and serving as an executive producer on NBC's beloved show, she faced more scrutiny from the Academy than her white, male peers when it came to being included when the show was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series at the Emmys one year.
She recalls to the magazine that "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. I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself."
Ultimately her name was included among her peers but the show did not win.
In response to Kaling's comments, the Television Academy has released a statement regarding this previous vetting process.
"No one person was singled out," the Academy said in a statement, via Variety. "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. Every performer/producer and writer/producer was asked to justify their producer credits. We no longer require this justification from performer/producers and writer/producers, but we do continue to vet consulting producer credits with the PGA to ensure those credited are actually functioning in the role as a producer."
Kaling also discussed her claims in a series of tweets on Wednesday, writing: "Respectfully, 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’."
"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? (1)."
"(2) But 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. Thankfully I was rescued by my friends, the other producers."
"(3) The point is, we shouldn’t have to be bailed out because of the kindness 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."
"In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate," she states. "It really doesn't matter how much money I have. I'm treated badly with enough regularity that it keeps me humble."
The actress also explained her desire to shine a light on the way women of color are marginalized in the workplace and beyond -- and, in doing so, be a role model for her nearly 2-year-old daughter, Katherine. This was integral to her recent film, Late Night, in which Kaling played Molly, a "diversity hire" in the writers' room of a late-night talk show, who slowly wins over her boss and white, male colleagues.
"That experience is so universal," she tells the publication. "For so many women who are trying to do something that they were not trained to do and who have ambition and who don't see people who look like them succeeding."