There's no denying that Mindy Kaling is among Hollywood's elite, but she's taken an unorthodox ride to the top! In honor of the star's 40th birthday on June 24, 2019, we're taking a look back at her career transformation. Keep reading to find out how Mindy moved from production assistant to "The Office" writer and star to life on the A-list!
Mindy Kaling got her start in Hollywood behind the scenes — first as a script intern on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" when she was a 19-year-old Dartmouth College student, then as a production assistant on the show "Crossing Over with John Edwards" after she graduated in 2001. She continued to work on her own creative endeavors during that time, penning a comedic play entitled "Matt & Ben" (which was all about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck before they got famous with "Good Will Hunting") with her best friend from college, Brenda Withers (seen here).
Mindy Kaling's play "Matt & Ben" — with Mindy and co-writer Brenda Withers starring — debuted in August 2002 to rave reviews. It did so well that it even moved to an off-Broadway venue early in its run. The play earned Mindy and Brenda comedy pilot deals with The WB network in 2004 and an offer to turn their play into a show called "Mindy & Brenda." The network didn't want the writers portraying themselves on camera and instead hired actors. The show wasn't picked up.
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Later that year, Greg Daniels, who adapted the American version of "The Office" from its British counterpart, set up a meeting with Mindy after seeing her in "Matt & Ben" and eventually hired her to write for the first season of the NBC comedy.
The same year Mindy Kaling got the gig writing for "The Office," she also landed a job as a guest writer on "Saturday Night Live." She reminisced about the experience in her memoir "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" and called that job "humiliating" after all of her proposed sketches were rejected.
"The Office" debuted on NBC in March 2005 with Mindy Kaling not only writing for the show but appearing on it! Mindy played Kelly Kapoor, a character loosely based on her own personality although greatly exaggerated. Offscreen, she was the only woman on the eight-person writing staff.
Moving to the movies! Mindy Kaling made her big-screen debut in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" in August 2005 alongside her "The Office" castmate Steve Carell. She played Amy in the hilarious flick.
During Season 6 of "The Office," Mindy added one more title to her resume — director! She made her television directorial debut with the episode "Body Language," which aired in April 2010.
In September 2011, Mindy Kaling got quite the promotion at "The Office"! The writer and cast member was named an executive producer ahead of the show's eighth season.
Mindy Kaling delved into the publishing world in September 2012 when she released her memoir "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" It featured her musings about life, love, friends, family and Hollywood, among other hilarious things. The book was a huge hit, taking up residence on The New York Times' best seller list for five weeks!
As "The Office" came to a close, Mindy Kaling landed a development deal with NBC in late 2012. This resulted in the creation of "The Untitled Mindy Kaling Project" — later shortened to "The Mindy Project" — which was originally passed over and later picked up by FOX. The show had Mindy playing a character also named Mindy who happened to be a stylish OB-GYN working amongst male doctors and a quirky office staff.
"The Mindy Project" was canceled by FOX in May 2015 after three seasons despite having a big fanbase. Those fans were so vocal about its cancellation that the show ended up getting picked up by Hulu for three more seasons.
A bona fide movie star! In September 2016, Mindy Kaling landed a dream gig — literally! — alongside Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon in the Ava DuVernay-directed film "A Wrinkle in Time." Mindy took on the role of Mrs. Who, an astral traveler who tries to help a girl find her father after he goes missing once he discovers a new planet.
September 2015 also saw Mindy Kaling release her second book, a collection of essays entitled "Why Not Me?" Just like her first book, this one spent time on The New York Times' best-seller list — for 16 weeks!
Back to television! Mindy Kaling and pal Charlie Grandy created the show "Champions," which was picked up by NBC in May 2017. The silly sitcom revolved around a gym owner who learns he has a gay teenage son. The show premiered in March 2018 to decent reviews. Mindy wore many hats — working as co-creator, writer and producer on the project while also holding down a recurring role. NBC canceled the show in June 2018 but luckily, Mindy had many more projects to look forward to…
That same year, Mindy Kaling starred as Amita in "Ocean's 8," a spin-off of the "Ocean's" trilogy. The heist film, which featured an all-female cast, was a success at the box office, grossing nearly $300 million worldwide. The movie was also applauded by critics and audiences for the actresses' chemistry and performances.
Mindy Kaling continued to create content in 2019. In June, she starred alongside Emma Thompson in the Amazon comedy-drama "Late Night," which she also wrote. The film, which follows a late-night talk show host and a staff writer who attempt save their show, received praise from critics for its social satire. In July 2019, Mindy's "Four Weddings and Funeral" miniseries will premiere on Hulu. She created, wrote and produced the show, which is based on the 1994 rom-com of the same name.