‘The Office’: Mindy Kaling Is the Reason Melora Hardin Sang During the ‘Baby Shower’ Episode

Melora Hardin is an actor best known for playing Jan Levinson on The Office. But she’s also a talented singer with experience performing in theater. When Mindy Kaling discovered Hardin’s abilities beyond acting, she knew she had to work them into The Office. Plus, the many ways Hardin impacted her role on the show.

Melora Hardin with a microphone ready to sing in 'The Office,' thanks to Mindy Kaling
Melora Hardin | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

‘The Office’ cast collaborated with the writers to create the show 

Working on the set of The Office, the actors, writers, directors, and camera operators worked collaboratively. As Hardin mentions in her conversation with Brian Baumgartner on The Office Deep Dive, showrunners were always willing to use whatever the cast had to give. 

That includes stories and events that took place outside of the show. Many of Hardin’s personal experiences heavily influenced one of the most hilarious and awkward episodes of The Office — “Baby Shower.” 

Mindy Kaling heard about Melora Hardin’s singing ability and worked it into ‘The Office’ 

Hardin was the actor with the most experience in the industry on the set of The Office. Before joining the NBC comedy, Hardin was a child star who worked on short-lived series, movies, and theater. 

“I did a Saturday morning show for kids when I was 10-years-old about a black stallion that came when I whistled,” she tells Baumgartner on the podcast. Hardin played Cindy Prescott on the 1977 TV series Thunder. Hardin has also appeared in The Love BoatDiff’rent StrokesLittle House on the Prairie, and most recently, The Bold Type

As such, showrunners weren’t afraid to tap into her wealth of experience. Ironically, this was a first for Hardin, who had not worked in such a collaborative space before. 

“Mindy Kaling wrote that episode of me singing to the baby because I had just done Les Mis at the Hollywood Bowl,” Hardin reveals. “She was so blown away that I had a voice like that and she was like, ‘We’ve gotta get you singing on the show.'” 

And incorporate Hardin’s singing voice Kaling did. As the Dunder Mifflin Scranton employees sit around her, Jan sings “Son of a Preacher Man” during the baby shower episode. 

That wasn’t the only aspect of motherhood Hardin inspired in The Office. “The whole breastfeeding the baby at the office happened because I was breastfeeding my daughter at a brunch that we had at Greg’s [Daniels] house,” Hardin says. 

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As she remembers it, her breastfeeding made Steve Carell uncomfortable. Hardin recalls saying: “We can carry guns in this country, but we can’t breastfeed our babies?” Daniels took notice of this and worked it into an episode of The Office

Melora Hardin brings Jan Levinson’s sexuality to life in ‘The Office’ 

For the most part, Jan Levinson is one of Michael Scott‘s longest relationships in The Office. Though she could be a cold-hearted businesswoman at times, Jan was also very much in touch with her sexuality. That’s all thanks to Hardin. 

“I think the sexuality piece of her, I brought that for sure,” Hardin says during the podcast. “I don’t think they would have gotten she was that sexual had I not been playing her.” 

What’s more, Hardin believes part of the reason Jan ends up in a relationship with Michael Scott is because of how feminine he makes her feel. “Michael made her feel like she could be softer with him,” says Hardin. He had a “puppy-like adoration” for her that made her feel special. Together, Carell and Hardin created one of the most awkward couples ever to air on television.