Why Mindy Kaling Had to Fight for Her Producer Credit on ‘The Office’

To the average fan of The Office, Mindy Kaling’s name might only stick out in their mind as the actress who played Kelly Kapoor. Kelly was, of course, the bubbly, overzealous, man-crazy, drama queen who served as Dunder Mifflin’s customer service rep. And while Kelly was incredible in her own right (her relationship with Ryan alone is off-the-charts genius) the character was far from Kaling’s biggest contribution to the show. Kaling also served as a writer for the show, contributing fantastic story arcs and developing characters with her incredible sense of humor. Later on, Kaling’s incredible contributions earned her a producer credit for The Office.

Mindy Kaling, producer of The Office
Mindy Kaling | Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage

Mindy Kaling had to fight for producer credit on The Office

Unfortunately, there was a time when Kaling had to fight for the right to retain her producer credits for The Office. In a recent interview with Elle, Kaling confessed that the TV Academy forced her to complete a form and write an essay about her work on the show. Adding insult to injury, no other producer from the show was forced to do this. Meanwhile, Kaling was made to get letters from other producers (who were all white males) that affirmed her contributions to the show.

The TV Academy responds

When The LA Times reached out to the TV Academy for a statement in response to Kaling’s claims, they maintained this auditing was something that happened across the board and that Kaling was not, in fact, singled out. “No one person was singled out. There was an increasing concern years ago regarding the number of performers and writers seeking producer credits. At the time the Producers Guild worked with the Television Academy to correctly vet producer eligibility. Every performer producer and writer-producer was asked to justify their producer credits,” the spokesman stated.

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Mindy Kaling defends her statements on Twitter

But Kaling wasn’t willing to accept that statement because she had firsthand experience that it was not the case. Taking to her Twitter page she expanded on the experience. “I’ve never wanted to bring up that incident because The Office was one of the greatest creative experiences of my life, and who would want to have an adversarial relationship with the Academy, who has the ongoing power to enhance our careers with awards,” Kaling began.

The producer continued on to share that she felt she needed to share the truth because it was a part of her story, unfortunate as it may be. “But I worked so hard and it was humiliating. 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. Thankfully I was rescued by my friends, the other producers,” the Office alum continued.

Finally, Kaling shared that women and people of color shouldn’t have to rely on the generosity of white males in order to receive the credit that they deserve. “The point is, we shouldn’t have be bailed out because of the kindness our more powerful white male colleagues. Not mentioning it seemed like glossing over my story. This was like ten years ago. Maybe it wouldn’t happen now. But it happened to me,” the writer penned.

2019 and beyond

We commend Kaling for speaking out against the injustice that she faced. While we are disappointed that the Television Academy didn’t use this as an opportunity to apologize to the talented actress and make amends, Kaling sharing her story was far from in vain. Hopefully, by sharing her experiences, she will be able to prevent other underrepresented creatives from facing similar injustices. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Kaling. With her multitude of talents, we’re sure she has some amazing projects in the works.