Kaling—an actor, writer, producer, and New York Times best-selling author—has been called one of the hardest-working women in Hollywood.
But before she was the first woman of color nominated for an Emmy in writing for her work on NBC’s The Office; before she played The Office’s fan favorite, the pop-culture-obsessed customer service rep Kelly Kapoor (as well as serving as a writer, producer, and director on the show); before she produced, directed, wrote, and starred in The Mindy Project and created her newest sitcom, Champions; before she voiced the character of Disgust for Pixar’s Oscar-winning movie Inside Out; before she published two New York Times bestsellers—Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Why Not Me?; before she was named to TIME’s 100 Most Influential People List in 2013 and honored with the GlamourWomen of the Year award in 2014; before all of that, Mindy Kaling was known to her Dartmouth classmates as the author of Badly Drawn Girl, a popular comic strip published in The Dartmouth that satirized campus life.
A theater major, Kaling discovered a gift for writing plays at Dartmouth—she won the annual Eleanor Frost Playwriting contest in 1999 for a one-act written for the annual Frost and Dodd Student Play Festival—and a love for comic performance as a member of the improv group Dog Day Players.
Post-graduation, Kaling moved to New York with Dartmouth friends and tried to find work writing for television. Her break came when she and roommate Brenda Withers ’00 entered a play, based on an inside joke, in the New York International Fringe Festival—and won for best overall production. Their show, Matt & Ben, an absurdist send-up of how Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote Good Will Hunting,ran off-Broadway to great reviews and ultimately led Kaling to the writer’s room of The Office.
Among her many honors, Kaling’s show The Mindy Project won a Gracie Award and was nominated for a Writers Guild Award and two Television Critics Association awards.
Kaling received an honorary degree from Dartmouth at Dartmouth's 2018 commencement ceremony, during which she delivered the main address.
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