Mindy Kaling© GettyImages

HELLO! 100 Most Influential: Mindy Kaling

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Gayatri Rangachari Shah

Why she matters: Never have we ever witnessed such a witty, wise, whirlwind of talent, shattering stereotypes and championing diversity. This actor- writer-producer is the ultimate desi girl, holding her Indian heritage up high.

Who doesn’t love Mindy Kaling? She’s funny, smart, self- deprecating and appears to be a girl next door, shooting out zingy one-liners that have us rolling on the floor.

A content creator extraordinaire, this 44-year-old, born Vera Mindy Chokalingam, is the most successful storyteller of South Asian descent to come out of Hollywood. Since writing for the mega hit show The Office for eight seasons, Kaling has been a fountainhead of productivity. An Emmy winner, she’s written and starred in a number of shows, including The Mindy Project, penned memoirs, acted in movies, and also created popular series like Never Have I Ever and The Sex Lives of College Girls.

Through Kaling International, her production house, she’s churning out stories at a rapid clip, including a movie with Priyanka Chopra Jonas, a show on a female executive working with the Los Angeles Lakers, and an animated Velma (of Scooby-Doo fame) series.

While Brown actors in Hollywood are a more common sight today, even as recently as 10 years ago, they were a rarity. And leading from the front, spearheading this cultural shift, is Kaling. Born in the US to a Tamil father and Bengali mother, who immigrated to the country in 1979, she’s spoken publicly about being the only Brown person, and often the only female, in a room dominated by White men.

A single parent of two, she has scripted success by using her own life as fodder, sharing with audiences around the world the inner lives of South Asian immigrants. Now an active mentor to many creatives, Kaling has paved the way for future desi representation across all spheres of entertainment, from writing to acting to producing to directing. All thanks to her humour and hard work.

To see who else is on the list, grab the copy of HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue right here!