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Mindy Kaling Exposed The Emmys For Being Sexist

It’s been nearly 15 years since The Office premiered, which means we’ve been blessed with knowing about Mindy Kaling for a long time. Mindy was just 24 when the show started, and she instantly became a fan favorite as Kelly Kapoor, but her time on camera wasn’t even close to the whole story. She was also a writer, director, and producer on the show, continually breaking down barriers on a staff that was mostly white, male, and older than her. But breaking down barriers usually comes with doubters, and in her new profile in Elle, Mindy Kaling opens up about a time when she had to fight for the respect the deserved.

Kaling said that in the early years of The Office, the Television Academy tried to cut her from the list of producers on The Office, saying that there were too many names on the list. This would have ruled Kaling ineligible to win the Emmy award for Outstanding Comedy Series, which is obviously a major career achievement. But unsurprisingly, Mindy was the only producer who got cut! In order to overturn this decision, Mindy says that “they made me, not any of the other producers, fill out a whole form and write an essay about all my contributions as a writer and a producer. I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself.”

Basically, the Emmys decided that there were too many names on the list, so who did they target? The only woman, the only person of color, and the youngest person. Convenient. Luckily, Mindy’s appeal was enough to persuade the Television Academy to include her, but she shouldn’t have had to do any of this sh*t in the first place.

Of course, this isn’t how the Television Academy sees it, and their statement to the Los Angeles Times in response is so typical. “No one person was singled out. There was an increasing concern years ago regarding the number of performers and writers seeking producer credits. At the time the Producers Guild worked with the Television Academy to correctly vet producer eligibility.” This is a lot of jargon that means nothing, because they’re not actually saying that Mindy didn’t have to do extra paperwork. Just because everyone was vetted in some way doesn’t mean that everyone was treated equally.

And, like me, Mindy Kaling was unimpressed with the statement from the Television Academy. She fired off a series of tweets further explaining herself, pretty much telling the Emmys to take several seats:

Yeah, the Television Academy can say whatever they want about the vetting process for producers, but it really means nothing if Mindy Kaling knows for a fact that other people in the same situation with The Office were treated differently. To claim that she wasn’t singled out is just false, even if you ignore the racist, sexist, and ageist connotations here. Which of course, you shouldn’t ignore, because the Television Academy probably was racist, sexist, and ageist.

Mindy followed up the first tweet with a series of three messages, in which she elaborates on the pain that this situation caused, and why she’s waited so long to speak publicly about it. I’m especially glad she brought up the complicated relationships performers have with these academies, because whether they care or not, at the end of the day, awards can have a huge impact on careers. Of course, Mindy would be worried that if she fought back against the Television Academy, she could be blackballed from awards consideration in the future. Awards aren’t everything, but this certainly creates a tough dilemma for performers deciding whether they should speak out in situations like this.

Awards are one thing, but Mindy Kaling is also bringing attention to a more important issue: the constant struggle for women, and especially women of color, to be taken seriously in their careers. In her final tweet, Mindy clarifies that this happened over a decade ago, so “maybe it wouldn’t happen now.”

Yes, there’s been progress in the last decade, but honestly, this could definitely still happen in 2019. According to the Center For Study Of Women In Television & Film, in the 2018-2019 TV season, the percentage of producers that were women hit a record-high 31%. Think about that. It’s a RECORD HIGH, and it was still less than a third. Sad, but not surprising.

I’m glad Mindy Kaling is speaking out now, but it’s important to remember that she’s at a point in her career where she’s calling the shots on major projects. For every super famous person like her, there are so many more people of color who have similar stories, but don’t feel like they have the platform or the power or the job security to share it. We’re definitely making progress, but there’s still a long way to go.

Images: mindykaling (4) / Twitter