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Mindy Kaling accuses TV academy of ‘humiliating’ discrimination during her time on ‘The Office’

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 08: Actress/producer Mindy Kaling speaks onstage during Producers Guild Of America's 11th Annual Produced By Conference at Warner Bros. Studios on June 8, 2019 in Burbank, California. (Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)
Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images
Mindy Kaling speaks onstage during Producers Guild Of America's 11th Annual Produced By Conference at Warner Bros. Studios on June 8, 2019 in Burbank, California.

Mindy Kaling broke into show business largely thanks to her work on “The Office,” on which she served as an actress, writer, and producer. According to the Cambridge native, however, when the show was set to be nominated for an Emmy for Best Comedy Series, her name was almost left off the nomination due to “humiliating” efforts by the Television Academy.

In an interview with Elle, Kaling told the magazine that the organization, which runs the Emmy Awards, contacted her to say that her name would be dropped from the nomination because there were too many producers listed for the show. In order to right the wrong, Kaling recalled, the Academy made her, the only woman of color on the producing team, jump through hoops.

“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,” Kaling said. “I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself.”

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When reached for comment by The Los Angeles Times, a spokesperson for the Television Academy disputed the notion that Kaling was unfairly targeted, saying that at the time, every actor-producer and writer-producer had to prove they had done the requisite producing work.

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“No one person was singled out,” the spokesman said, per the Times. “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.”

That led Kaling to respond to the Academy in a series of tweets, calling the entire process “humiliating.”

“I *was* singled out,” Kaling tweeted. “There were other Office writer-performer-producers who were NOT cut from the list. Just me. The most junior person, and woman of color. Easiest to dismiss. Just sayin’.”

“I’ve never wanted to bring up that incident because ‘The Office’ was one of the greatest creative experiences of my life, and who would want to have an adversarial relationship with the Academy, who has the ongoing power to enhance our careers with awards?” Kaling continued. “But I worked so hard and it was humiliating. I had written so many episodes, put in so much time in the editing room, just to have the Academy discard it because they couldn’t fathom I was capable of doing it all. Thankfully I was rescued by my friends, the other producers.

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“The point is, we shouldn’t have be bailed out because of the kindness our more powerful white male colleagues,” she continued. “Not mentioning it seemed like glossing over my story. This was like ten years ago. Maybe it wouldn’t happen now. But it happened to me.”

Kevin Slane can be reached at kevin.slane@globe.com