Writer and comedian Mindy Kaling has responded angrily to critics who say she does not include enough ethnic minorities on her show The Mindy Project.
During a panel discussion to promote the television show at the South by Southwest festival, she was asked, "Was it a conscious decision for Mindy to be the only female doctor, and the only doctor colour of show?" to which she replied, “I look at shows on TV, and this is going to just seem defensive, but I’m just gonna say it: I’m a f*cking Indian woman who has her own f*cking network television show, OK?”.
She continued: “I have four series regulars that are women on my show, and no one asks any of the shows I adore — and I won’t name them because they’re my friends — why no leads on their shows are women or of colour, and I’m the one that gets lobbied about these things. And I’ll answer them, I will. But I know what’s going on here.
“It is a little insulting because, I’m like, God, what can I — oh, I’m sitting in it. I have 75 percent of the lines on the show.”
“And I’m like, oh wait, it’s not like I’m running a country, I’m not a political figure,” she continued. “I’m someone who’s writing a show and I want to use funny people. And it feels like it diminishes the incredibly funny women who do come on my show… I don’t know, it’s a little frustrating.”
Having broken boundaries herself, the writer and comedian often gets criticised for not including more characters of colour on her show, particularly because her TV alter ego, Dr. Mindy Lahiri, has only dated white men.
Last year, she told Entertainment Weekly, "Do people really wonder on other shows if female leads are dating multicultural people?
“Like I owe it to every race and minority and beleaguered person. I have to become the United Nations of shows?”
She also refuses to be pigeonholed by fans (and journalists) who praise her for pushing boundaries as a woman of colour in Hollywood. "Most of the time when people want to talk to me about my job it’s about three things: not skinny, multi-cultural, woman who is female,” she said. “I don’t want to minimize that it’s a source of inspiration to young people, but I was just born in this skin, so it’s not something I think about while I’m writing."