Most recognized for her own performance on TV’s “The Office” as the chatty, needy Kelly Kapoor, Mindy Kaling says she’s increasingly identifying herself as a writer and a performer.
“It comes from this impatience that I just wrote this and now I want to see it on its feet,” she says.
It also comes out of necessity. “Being Indian and a woman,” admits Kaling, born Vera Chokalingam, “there’s not a ton of parts that I can really go out for.”
After doing improvisational comedy at Dartmouth, Kaling broke through in 2003 with her award-winning play “Matt & Ben,” which she co-wrote and co-performed (as Ben Affleck) with her best friend, Brenda Withers. She signed with William Morris and went to Los Angeles, where TV producer Greg Daniels hired her to write and co-star in “The Office.”
“Mindy’s writing is juicy,” Daniels says. “She has a nose for interesting pairings of people and dramatic twists and turns. All she has to do is write like she talks and the characters spring to life.”
A sketch comedy devotee — she loves “Saturday Night Live,” “The Kids in the Hall” and Monty Python — Kaling is now applying what she’s learned from “The Office” to feature films.
“I just write scenes that are funny to me, and think: How do I string these together in the structure of a movie?” she explains. “And making sure there’s enough characters that I like that if I get bored with one — which happens constantly, because I have a short attention span — I can move on to another.”
Her first spec script, “The Low Self Esteem of Lizzy Gillespie,” a romantic comedy about a female underdog, which she co-wrote with seasoned scribe and “Office” colleague Brent Forrester, is being pitched to studios. “I hope it’s funny,” Kaling says.
And though she doesn’t have another script lined up, she does have a “dream next project,” she says: “I want to write an action adventure for Tina Fey. Everyone always says she looks like a sexy librarian, so I thought, oh man, I should write her a sexy librarian part where she kicks ass like Indiana Jones.”
INSPIRED BY: Farrelly brothers, Nora Ephron, Woody Allen. “I cry every time I see ‘Hannah and Her Sisters,’ which is also such a funny movie,” she says. “Nobody does it better than Woody Allen: being about something and always hilarious.”
UP NEXT: Her spec “The Low Self Esteem of Lizzy Gillespie”
REPS: Agents: Blair Kohan, Matt Rice (UTA); manager: Howard Klein (3 Arts); attorney: PJ Shapiro (Ziffren Brittenham)