In Depth

Hot List: Mindy Kaling

Name: Mindy Kaling

Title: Writer/Performer, “The Office”

Age: 30

Big Break: Writing and starring in the 2002 off Broadway hit “Matt and Ben,” about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Who knew?: Ms. Kaling was born Vera Chokalingham.

Mindy Kaling is learning to love the spotlight.

A veteran on NBC's "The Office," Kaling has long bounced between roles as a performer and a writer on the show. And for the longest time, Kaling considered herself more a writer than an actress.

"I identify so much with the writer side," she says. "I'm like, 'Don't look at me! Let me wear my overalls and eat my submarine sandwich!'"

But as viewers grew to love her on-screen character, Kelly Kapoor, Kaling has started growing more comfortable with her inner actress as well.

"Now I kind of indentify with both sides equally," Kaling says. "I think I've gained a lot of confidence playing Kelly and doing standup.... There's a part of me that wants to act more."

Kaling will almost certainly get that chance in the coming months.

NBC's Universal Media Studios recently signed Kaling to a rich multiyear overall deal that calls on her to not only continue writing for "The Office," but to develop-- and star in-- a TV project of her own. She's excited about the notion, but also not in a rush to leave her current main gig.

"The idea of leaving 'The Office' is totally terrifying to me," she says. "Part of me is getting excited about a different format... but I love working at 'The Office'."

One possible solution to her fears could be teaming up with "Office" executive producer Greg Daniels again, though no talks about such a scenario have taken place. For now, the two are teaming up to write a key, hour-long episode of next season's "Office."

Kaling's immediate future also involves a move into directing. The Dartmouth alum is helming (and appearing in) the next batch of "Office" webisodes, which revolve around a female rock band called Subtle Sexuality.

And then there's Twitter. Kaling has expanded her brand of quirky comedy to the microblogging site, where she now boasts more than 250,000 followers.

Some sample Tweets:

"Gang, it's the last day of my 20's. Who wants to get high and rob a bank in Richard Nixon masks?"

"When I'm on the elliptical machine I feel like it should automatically come with a pair of sides for a Nancy Meyers movie and a large chai."

"You know that horrible car with the thumping bass and TI blaring at 7 in the morning and the drivers drinking a can of Coke? That's me."

"It's totally performing," Kaling says of her messages on Twitter. In addition to just being fun, Kaling says Tweeting actually helps her work.

"You can test out comic ideas and you can do it from your Blackberry," she says. "The standards are high, because people are going to read them. But they're low, because it's Twitter. It really helps keep your comic mind fertile."

—Josef Adalian

Filed under: Hot List, Mindy Kaling