Mindy Kaling once played Ben Affleck. In the early aughts, her and her best friend Brenda Withers wrote and starred in Matt & Ben, an off-Broadway play chronicling the (fictionalized) start of the actors’ much-discussed friendship (Withers played Damon to Kaling's Affleck).
To fans of Kaling’s FOX TV show The Mindy Project, whose third season premieres on September 16, this creative approach to comedy comes as no surprise. As one of the industry’s most sought-after comedians, Kaling has made a mark in the entertainment world by not only actually being funny, but by reshaping the role of female TV leads.
In town to promote her show, Kaling participated in AOL’s Build speaker series and opened up about her career, getting hacked, and more. Here’s what we learned:
She Probably Would Not Want to Fight Amy Schumer
“Amy Schumer would win in a bar fight,” she says. “I feel like she’d kick my ass. I’ve been to two bars in my life.”
Her Writing Career Started in a Storage Room Inside Her Mom’s Office
“As a little kid, I had very protective parents who wouldn’t let me do a lot,” she reminisces. Not wanting to leave her with a nanny, Kaling’s mom, a doctor, would have her take the bus to her office. “I would go into the storage room with all the blood vessels and all I was allowed to do was read and write,” she recounts. She knew she wanted to be a writer when she realized how excited she was about finishing stories.
She’d Love to Have Idris Elba on the Show
When asked who she’d love as a guest star on The Mindy Project, Kaling mentions Jessica Chastain (“I just interviewed [her] for something, and she's [amazing]”), Reese Witherspoon, Howard Stern, and Sam Rockwell. But who’s at the top of her list? Idris Elba.
Juice Cleanses Aren’t Her Thing
“The worst advice I got was about needing to be skinny to be on television,” she says. “An old manager told me to go on a juice cleanse.” Eventually, the manager was fired.
The iPad Doesn’t Impress Her…
“From computers to iPads, you’d think, ‘Oh, that [makes sense]!’” Kaling says. “But when you go from nothing to a fax… [That was wow!]”
She Wouldn’t Mind Being Hacked
When asked about the latest celebrity nude photo scandal, Kaling says, “I was titillated. I didn’t look, although I wanted to.” She continues, “I had two feelings [about this]. One, it’s horrible. Two, why didn’t anyone take any [photos] of me? I have many!” Not missing a beat, the actress adds: “[The] password on my phone is 1, 2, 3, 4... but nothing. [No hacking]. Next time.”
If She Could Have Dinner with Any Comedian, She Would Pick…
…Mike Nichols and Elaine May. “I always thought… Are they dating? Are they friends? What are they doing?” Kaling says.
She Never Knew Joan Rivers But Admires Her
“I loved that [when] she died [she was still] working,” she says. “That’s what I want to do.”
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF FOX (THE MINDY PROJECT); BY DAMON SCHELEUR, AOL (AOL BUILD)