Mindy Kaling is currently one of the most acclaimed writers and producers in Hollywood, but there was a time when she had to fight in order to get the accolades she deserves. In fact, she's still fighting, as evident by Kaling's response to the TV Academy, which denied asking her to jump through hoops to be recognized with an Emmy nomination for The Office. The back and forth came after an interview was published on Wednesday, Oct. 9, in which Kaling claimed she had to fight for an Emmy nomination for The Office after the Television Academy refused to include her in a list of producers.
According to Kaling, who joined The Office when it started in 2005 as both a writer and actor and became a producer beginning in Season 3 — when The Office was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2007, she was almost left off the list of nominees. She claimed that the Television Academy told her that because there were too many credited producers on the show, she would be cut from the list. That meant that she, the lone woman of color on staff, would not be eligible for the Emmy for her work on the show.
"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," Kaling told Elle about the fight to be recognized alongside her peers. "I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself." Kaling did end up making the final list, though The Office eventually lost to 30 Rock; she and the show would end up being nominated five more times for the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy.
In a statement responding to the story, the Television Academy denied that Kaling was singled out. "There was an increasing concern years ago regarding the number of performers and writers seeking producer credits," the TV Academy said in a statement obtained by Variety. "Every performer/producer and writer/producer was asked to justify their producer credit."
Kaling then responded to the Academy on Twitter, saying, "Respectfully, the Academy's statement doesn't make any sense." She went on to reiterate her claim that she "*was* singled out," noting that she was the only writer-producer-actor who was cut from the list of Emmy nominated writers from The Office. "Just me. The most junior person, and woman of color," she wrote. In a series of follow-up tweets, Kaling recalled the "humiliating" experience. "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," she wrote.
Kaling concluded, saying that while she did get recognized by the Academy in the end, it was the process of having to ask her colleagues to vouch for her that she truly didn't appreciate. "The point is, we shouldn't have [to] be bailed out because of the kindness [of] our more powerful white male colleagues," she wrote. "Maybe it wouldn't happen now. But it happened to me."
While she has reached new heights of success in the years since that incident with the Television Academy — including creating and starring in The Mindy Project and Late Night, and helming Champions and Four Weddings and a Funeral — Kaling still thinks she'll always deal with some amount of racism and sexism. "It really doesn’t matter how much money I have," she said in her interview with ELLE. "I’m treated badly with enough regularity that it keeps me humble."
After everything she's experienced as a woman of color in Hollywood, it seems that Kaling is determined to use her platform to point out those injustices and inequalities in the industry. And this is one fight she is not going to back down from.