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Mindy Kaling photographed by Victoria Stevens
Mindy Kaling photographed by Victoria Stevens

Mindy Kaling on How Writers' Rooms Have Changed Since 'The Office'

Writer and actress Mindy Kaling says she’s finally seeing some change in the writers’ room nearly 15 years after she got her start on “The Office.”

“The way that writers’ rooms look now versus when I started at ‘The Office’ in 2004 is night and day. I was the only woman of color on our staff or the entire run of the show I think, but things have changed a lot since then,” she tells Variety at a recent cover shoot. “We are just demanding more inclusive storytelling. We want to see ourselves reflected. When I was coming up, I didn’t even think I was owed that.”

And with her upcoming film “Late Night,” Kaling is continuing the sentiment, reflecting her own career as both a fledgling writer on “The Office” and the star of her own show with “The Mindy Project.” “Late Night,” which also stars Emma Thompson, follows a failing late-night talk show host (Thompson) who hires a young writer (Kaling) to help save her show.

Kaling says she was always drawn to the “inherent coziness” of late-night shows, especially since it creates what she thinks is one of the most intimate relationships between audience members and people on broadcast television. The only problem? They were all hosted by men.

“It was a fun fantasy to have a woman have that role since I never was able to see that growing up,” she says. “I thought, well, why not just invent it?”

As for aspiring television writers, Kaling says “watch more than you write,” and warns against trying to film a movie 12 weeks after giving birth like she did. Breastfeeding between scenes, she says, is not fun.

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