In her writing and performances, Mindy Kaling often celebrates her Indian-American identity without resorting to self-mockery. Her latest Netflix show Never Have I Ever keeps the flags flying
Photograph by P. Lehman/Getty Images
Q. Never Have I Ever tells us that very familiar coming-of-age story from an Indian-American perspective. Did you expect it would have a crossover audience?
We are blown away by how many people have seen the show around the world and the response we have gotten. We are telling a specific and personal story about one Indian-American girl and her family. It definitely could have been received as niche, but we are so happy it has had more appeal than that.
Q. Is the show autobiographical? Did you also have an identity crisis like Devi in your teenage years?
Yes and no. I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s and didn’t want to do a period show, so that’s a big difference. I was nowhere near as brash and wilful as Devi, but I can relate to her grief of losing a parent. Devi and I also share a similar struggle with our relationship to India. And perhaps least surprisingly, I was also a huge nerd.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming project with Priyanka Chopra-Jonas.
What is so fun about writing that movie is playing with the expectations that Indians and Indian-Americans have of each other. I have learned so much from Priyanka and her love of India. It’s enhanced my own love and understanding of India.
Q. You have been on a prolific run. Late Night, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Never Have I Ever and now Legally Blonde 3. What’s the secret of this constant productivity?
I love what I do and only make shows I feel personally connected to, so wanting to work on them comes naturally.
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