This is the secret to Mindy Kaling’s incredible work ethic

It frustrates her that “hard work” is sometimes equated as “lack of talent” in certain parts of Hollywood – as if accomplishing things should be effortless.

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Mindy Kaling, daughter of Indian immigrants and showbiz multitasker extraordinaire, has taken on Hollywood and won – as a writer (The Office), actor, and producer (The Mindy Project). She wrote, produced, and stars in the upcoming film Late Night.

She’s successful enough so that she could pick and choose her projects, and relax in between. But Kaling likes to keep it green: the secret to her success is that she treats her projects like a side hustle.


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In an interview with Glamour, Kaling also told the magazine that she likes to work on three movie or TV projects at once while also writing something in her spare time, “like a book of essays. That hasn’t changed so much, the amount of what I want to do.”

Kaling has a new baby that she’s raising on her own, however, so she says, “I think eventually it will.”

In the meantime, however, her child sleeps a lot, and she finds the work to be “energy-giving, not energy-depleting.”

No more “mysterious cats”

It frustrates her that “hard work” is sometimes equated as “lack of talent” in certain parts of Hollywood – as if accomplishing things should be effortless, especially among women.

“I think the process, the work, used to be seen as something you hide, because everyone puts a premium on being so effortless,” Kaling said. “Women don’t have to be these alluring, mysterious cats who get things done and you don’t know how hard they work, how hard they work out, what they’re eating. We now celebrate the fact that women can say, ‘Yeah, I sacrificed this…’ It isn’t effortless.”

Kaling observed hard work firsthand from watching her parents, who she said never took vacations. “My mother was an ob-gyn and would leave in the middle in the night and miss huge chunks of things because she was delivering a baby.” Her father was an architect and super-commuter who drove from Boston to New Haven every day.

As immigrants, she said, they really had to “hit it hard.”

Kaling had a similar feeling when she went to Hollywood.  She felt that “as a woman… as a writer and particularly as an actress,” there was a limited amount of time to get her foot in the door before it slammed shut. “You have to make your imprint and get your coin, frankly.”


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.