David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Mindy Kaling
For Mindy Kaling, her work as an actor often imitates real life — and that can be painful.
While in the writer's room for a TV show, one of her co-workers — a fellow actor on the show — suggested that their character tell Kaling's that she could lose 15 lbs. It was a moment that Kaling, now 42, took personally.
"This is my greatest insecurity and someone just called it out," she recalled to Good Morning America on Thursday. "It's really devastating."
Kaling, who said that she was regularly getting up early in the morning during that time to fit in a gym workout before her dual jobs, took the incident as a moment for self-reflection.
"I had a reckoning where I'm like, 'People are scrutinizing [me], and not only are they scrutinizing [me], they're verbalizing their displeasure with how I look because I don't look a certain way. That kind of dissonance has really affected so much of what I write about [and] the kind of characters I play," she said. "Almost all of those kinds of things [in my work] come from something really real."
The Never Have I Ever co-creator noted that for years, there was a lack of diverse body types in Hollywood.
"On TV, if you were really thin, then you could be the lead. Otherwise, you had to be like 250 pounds, and you had to be the slapstick comic relief," she said. "But what was crazy, what was left out, is just like this range of people which is a majority of American women over the age of 24. What if you're like a [size] 12 and you want to just live your life and look cute and date?"
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Kaling said that "it was like a no man's land" for women with other body types in the early 2010's, but she has seen a shift, both for body and racial diversity.
"That has really changed, I think," she said, adding that Never Have I Ever, which focuses on an Indian American girl going through the trials and tribulations of teen life in Southern California, is part of that new landscape.
"It makes me so happy that this show can be on Netflix, 40 million people can watch it, it's No. 1 around the world and it stars a girl who is a young, dark-skinned Indian girl," she said. "She's real, and she dates and boys like her, boys hate her, she goes in and out of drama, fights with her friends, but she's normal and she's the point of view character and so you can look to that and feel seen, to use a phrase that people much younger than me use."