10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mindy Kaling


Mindy Kaling has stolen the hearts of many with her hilarious sense of humor, flawless style and her own-it attitude when it comes to body image. She’s working to change stereotypes in the entertainment industry one day at a time, and we love it! This actress, writer and comedian has proven herself a worthy member of Hollywood, from her writing and acting days on the NBC sitcom The Office, to starring and producing her own show to her best-selling books, Mindy Kaling seriously does it all. Here’s 10 things you might not have known about Mindy:

10. Her Real Name

Her real name is Vera Mindy Chokalingam. According to Kaling, Vera means “incarnation of a Hindu goddess.” She got the American name ‘Mindy’ before she was even born. When her mother was pregnant she enjoyed watching the show Mork and Mindy, and when they moved to America her mother decided she needed a “cute American name,” so she gave her the name Mindy. In her early years working as a stand-up comedian after college she shortened her last name because people kept pronouncing it wrong.

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9. She’s a Nerd

Growing up she was really nerdy and always chubby. She went to a prestigious high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, called Buckingham Browne & Nichols. Later, she went the ivy league college, Dartmouth. While she attended Dartmouth she drew a comic strip for the school newspaper called “Badly Drawn Girl,” wrote for the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern magazine and was apart of an improv group called The Dog Day Players.

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8. Her Big Break

She got her big break in a show she wrote and starred in called “Matt & Ben” back in 2003 with her college roommate Brenda Withers. It was a celebrity spoof about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck writing the screenplay for the film Good Will Hunting — Mindy played Matt and Brenda was Ben. Time magazine named it one of the “Top Ten Theatrical Events of the Year.” 

7. Office Relationships

While she was writing and acting on The Office, she played the character of Kelly Kapoor, a customer service rep who dated her co-worker Ryan Howard,  portrayed by B.J. Novak. Off screen, Mindy and B.J. dated during this time, but eventually broke up only to become great friends. Some of the moments that we see in their relationship on The Office were things they were actually going through as a real couple. B.J. and Mindy have such a great relationship, he’s even done guest appearances as a love interest on her show, The Mindy Project. The two have currently joined up together for a $7.5 million book deal about their relationship, but have yet to announce the title.

Beth Dubber/©Fox/courtesy Everett Collection

6. Black and White Messages

Her first magazine cover was met with some controversy from fans and media outlets. She posed for a cover picture on the February 2014 issue of Elle, but the magazine printed the photo in black and white as opposed to the usual color full-body shot. Mindy Kaling was a great sport about it all, and was determined to relish in this big moment for her. She tweeted out afterwards, “It made me feel glamorous & cool.” Way to take the high road, Mindy!

Carter Smith for ELLE Magazine

5. She’s Breaking Barriers

Mindy is the first Indian-American to get her own network show. She has been open about the challenges she faces in the industry, not only because of her ethnicity, but against her gender and body image. In an interview with Vulture back in 2012 she said, “I never want to be called the funniest Indian female comedian that exists. I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there. Why would I want to self-categorize myself into a smaller group than I’m able to compete in?”

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4. Her Beauty Secrets

She takes prenatal vitamins, but not because she’s expecting! She swears that her Trader Joe’s prenatal vitamins are the reason for her thick, beautiful hair and glowing skin.

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3. She Likes to Steal Props

Mindy’s house is decorated with props she swiped from the set of The Office. She has a photo of her and Ellie Kemper in her laundry room and in her hallway is a giant black-and-white close-up of Steve Martin’s face which was a prop from the episode of Michael Scott’s going away party. She told Vulture in an interview, “They decorated the office and the conference room in a way that he would really like, so the props person blew up this picture of Steve Martin and they were throwing it away. I was like ‘I’ll take a perfectly good poster of Steve Martin that’s been framed already,’ and this was the only place to put it.” On a side note, she bought her home in West Holly wood from Mike Schur of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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2. She Prefers Writing Over Acting

Despite the fact that she’s had a lot of cool acting gigs like, 40-Year-Old-Virgin, No Strings Attached, The Office and her own show The Mindy Project, she prefers to be behind the camera rather than in front of it. In an interview with Live Journal she explained the benefits of writing: “It’s almost a prerequisite that you’re a chubby, cantankerous person who wears gym shorts and torn T-shirts. You’re celebrated if you don’t look that great. Whereas as an actress, I have to go to the gym and wear makeup and I can’t swear.”

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1. Mindy Lahiri is A Lot like Mindy Kaling

Her character on The Mindy Project shares more than just her name, Mindy uses her own personal life experiences for storylines on the show, especially when it comes to relationships. In real life, Mindy was a late bloomer when it came to dating, much like her on-screen character who admits to not dating until she was finished medical school. She also uses her character as a vessel for voicing her own opinions like hating birthdays and the phrase ‘girl crush.’ Some might say Mindy Lahiri is her on-screen alter ego, they share the same sense of fashion, obsession with chick flicks and are both unapologetically girly. However, the one difference is that Mindy Kaling is much less of a romantic, with a more realistic approach to love than Mindy on the show.

Greg Gayne/©Fox/courtesy Everett Collection
Katherine G

Katherine G

Katherine is the Managing Editor for Health and Parenting, but she has a soft spot for entertainment. She loves binging shows on Netflix, reality TV is a guilty pleasure, and country music is her go-to playlist. When she's not writing, she's spending time outdoors, especially with her puppy Zoey!