Mindy Kaling On 'Obvious' Sexism And Why She Refuses To Be An Outsider

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 11:  Mindy Kaling participates in a conversation with New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum duri
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 11: Mindy Kaling participates in a conversation with New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum during the New Yorker Festival on October 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

Being a pioneer in an industry wrought with sexism is no easy feat -- just ask Mindy Kaling.

In an interview with NPR's Rachel Martin on Oct. 16, Kaling discussed her role as producer, writer and star of "The Mindy Project," her feelings on being labeled a "pioneer" and the sexism she's experienced at work.

"Years from now, when I have time to sit and reflect on the different situations that I face every day, I'll be able to speak more succinctly about the challenges as a woman," the 35-year-old comedian told Martin.

Kaling noted certain dynamics on set that would almost certainly look different if a man was in charge. "Yeah, there's obviously instances where I perceive sexism in my job," she said.

Subtle challenges to her authority as a decision maker are some of these instances, Kaling explains:

I think that the sort of sexism that I see has been one that's a little bit like a gentler form of sexism, but still a little bit debilitating, which is that when, as a producer and a writer, whether it was at "The Office" or [at "The Mindy Project"], if I make a decision, it'll still seem like it's up for debate. And I notice that a little bit at "The Office," with, like, an actor: If I decided there'd be a certain way in the script, it would still seem open-ended, whereas... if I was a man I would not have seen that. [At "The Mindy Project,"] I feel that... less and less as I've sort of matured into the role more. The one thing I sort of, because of that, have felt [is] that when I made a decision I sort of would have to leave the room so that it was final and there was like no discussion would come after that.

As an actor, comedian, writer and producer -- who also happens to be an Indian-American woman who's "not pencil thin" -- Kaling is often referred to as a pioneer in her field. "I know why people are interested and I know why people want me to speak about [being a pioneer]," she told Martin. "But I sort of refuse to be an outsider, even though I know that I very much look like one to a lot of people, and I refuse to view myself in such terms."

Kaling is definitely no stranger to speaking her mind and creating her own path -- and it doesn't seem like she'll be stopping anytime soon.

To read or listen to the rest of the interview head over to NPR.



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