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Mindy Kaling has no time for any excuses about why her work was overlooked

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Hollie Richardson
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Mindy Kaling

Comedian, writer and actor Mindy Kaling has revealed that the Television Academy nearly stopped her from receiving an Emmy for The Office (U.S.)

The Office (U.S.) is the multi-award winning comedy series that probably needs no introduction. Spanning nine successful seasons, the show won four Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

Mindy Kaling, an executive producer who also starred in the show, was part of the team who picked up those awards. She was the youngest producer on the credits and the only woman of colour. But Kaling has now spoken out about how Television Academy, which puts on the awards, told her it was going to cut her from the list because there were “too many” producers on the show. 

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Kaling told Elle US she was eventually added back to the list, but had to get letters from the “male, white producers” about her contributions, as well as fill out forms and write an essay.

The Television Academy responded to the story, telling the LA Times that “no one person was singled out”. It continued: “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.”

The spokesperson added: “Every performer producer and writer producer was asked to justify their producer credits.”

But Kaling doesn’t have any time for this excuse, taking to Twitter to say that none of her other colleagues were cut from the list.

Taking to Twitter, she wrote: “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’.”

In a thread, she explained that she didn’t speak out at the time because of the power the academy had on her career. 

“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?” she wrote.

Mindy Kaling starred in and executive produced The Office (U.S.).
Mindy Kaling starred in and executive produced The Office (U.S.).

She added: “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.

“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.”

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With this new information in mind, the message behind Kaling’s summer 2019  film, Late Night, feels more potent that ever. 

The story follows Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson), a late night talk show host who hires Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), her first and only female staff writer. Originally intended to smooth over diversity concerns, Kaling turns out to be one of the best things to happen to the show in years. The film highlights very real issues, ranging from ageism to the lack of female writers.

Clearly, these issues continue to be prevalent in the industry, which is why Kaling deserves even more credit for calling them out.

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Images: Getty, Netflix

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