Mindy Kaling based her Late Night character on her own early days as a writer on The Office.
The actress starred in and co-wrote many of the episodes of the U.S. comedy series, which was based on Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s hit U.K. show of the same name.
Kaling first worked as a staff writer on the NBC show back in 2004, and she revealed that budding writer Molly Patel, who she plays in her recent comedy Late Night, was based on her own experiences in the all-male writers’ room.
“The character is based a lot on the way that I was when I started The Office,” she told Constance Wu in a chat for Variety’s Actors on Actors series. “I was the only person of colour and the only woman in a staff of seven. That was 2004.
“Now, that would be absolutely insane. But when I was a writer there, if I had a bad day or said something lame or unfunny, I was like, ‘Oh, this is what they think Indian women are like.'”
When asked by the Crazy Rich Asians star if the working atmosphere on The Office changed, Kaling noted that it significantly improved.
“It did. Every year, there were small changes. Now, there’s so much more financial incentive to hire people of colour. There’s way more scrutiny, in a good way, on our staffs,” she explained.
Elsewhere in the discussion, the 40-year-old confessed that she struggled to pitch Late Night to directors and studios, because it focused on the ambition of two women.
“Stories about women and ambition are tricky because ambition is such a stereotypically masculine trait. It’s not considered attractive,” Kaling shared. “This movie is about two women who are incredibly ambitious about their career. I wanted to find someone who had loving feelings toward ambition in women and thought of it as a beautiful thing.”
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