Hollywood Actress Mindy Kaling Confesses: I'm 'Weirdly Patriotic'

Here’s a real shocker. Someone in Hollywood confessing they are “patriotic.” Mindy Kaling, the star and creator of Fox’s The Mindy Project, admitted on Friday’s Charlie Rose show that she’s “weirdly patriotic” - because of course being patriotic in the left-leaning entertainment industry must be considered weird.

Still it was refreshing to hear someone in Hollywood celebrate American exceptionalism, as she proudly asserted: “This is going to make me sound like I’m a thousand years old, but this could only happen in America and I’m weirdly patriotic because my parents are immigrants and I feel so unbelievably lucky that it just came from grit.”

Kaling continued: “I virtually never saw either of my parents growing up because of how hard they worked but I sort of applied that to entertainment and it worked out. Which, to me, just makes me feel kind of good about the country in a way, because I couldn't have done this in India, I don’t think.”


Later in the interview Kaling told Rose, because her character on the show is of Indian descent, she can get away with saying “conservative” things because “I have the trappings of a marginalized person.”

When Rose asked Kaling to describe her character Mindy Lahiri, Kaling responded:

I think Mindy Lahiri is a - I love her and I think she’s an incredibly original character because she’s politically sort of all over the map. She has real streaks of like libertarianism. She says absolutely selfish and crazy things sometimes, which is so fun as an actor like - I saw Alec Baldwin in “30 Rock.” And some of the things that he let himself say I mean there were such a gift of actors. So my character says things like, “I don’t like that America recycles. I think it makes us look poor, frankly.”

Kaling later added: “My character probably could not exist. I think it’s a good point, if she was not Indian. Because if I was being played by, frankly, a thin, beautiful, blond woman, you might find it incredibly insufferable. But I have the trappings of a marginalized person and when that person is like decisively saying sort of conservative things and all over the map things.”

Last year Kaling was rumored to be a Republican because her character made a pro-gun rights joke. Of course being a Republican in notoriously ultra-liberal Hollywood can be bad for business and the actress denied the rumor on Twitter.   

The following are the relevant portions of the interview aired on the March 28 edition of PBS’s Charlie Rose show:

CHARLIE ROSE: Here is your book. “Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me?” I mean, here is "Elle" magazine. I mean all of this suggests that you created your own thing and then they came to you.

MINDY KALING: I am very proud of the way that I have made my way. Because I do feel that I - my mother was a surgeon. My father is an architect. They grew up in India. They moved to Africa where they -- they met in Africa and then came here. And there's no people on TV on either side of my family, no entertainers to speak of. And I was just really blessed to have parents who, growing up, loved Jerry Seinfeld, loved Bill Cosby, loved George Carlin and really encouraged this, although they didn't quite understand it.

And I just I mean I really feel -- and this is -- this is going to make me sound like I’m a thousand years old, but this could only happen in America and I'm weirdly patriotic because my parents are immigrants and I feel so unbelievably lucky that it just came from grit, you know. I don't know how many 34-year-old women talk about their own grit, but I do feel I have-

ROSE: Meaning determination and will.

KALING: Determination. My mother, who is an OB/GYN, emigrated to this country worked -- and I talk about creating a show but backbreakingly hard to have to start a career here essentially again after moving from Africa.

And so I virtually never saw either of my parents growing up because of how hard they worked but I sort of applied that to entertainment and it worked out. Which, to me, just makes me feel kind of good about the country in a way, because I couldn't have done this in India, I don't think.
...
ROSE: Since we’re talking about “The Mindy Project,” tell me about Dr. Mindy Lahiri.

KALING: I think Mindy Lahiri is a -- I love her and I think she’s an incredibly original character because she’s politically sort of all over the map. She has real streaks of like libertarianism. She says absolutely selfish and crazy things sometimes, which is so fun as an actor like - I saw Alec Baldwin in30 Rock." And some of the things that he let himself say I mean there were such a gift of actors. So my character says things like,I don’t like that America recycles. I think it makes us look poor, frankly." She has like that kind of energy about it and she has the conviction of knowing things are correct because she feels that they’re correct. And-

ROSE: Could you make her more interesting? I mean is it possible to make her more interesting because she’s the way she - has the background she has and looks the way she does?

KALING: My character probably could not exist. I think it’s a good point, if she was not Indian.

ROSE: Exactly.

KALING: Because if I was being played by, frankly, a thin, beautiful, blond woman, you might find it incredibly insufferable. But I have the trappings of a marginalized person and when that person is like decisively saying sort of conservative things and all over the map things.  

She’s -  another thing about my character, which I love, is she’s constantly insisting that she’s young and hot to everyone. And she’s always saying things like ‘I’m a smoking, hot doctor who makes a lot of money. Why can’t I meet anybody?" Because she has this confidence like so delusional and I don’t see a lot.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.