Actress, writer and producer Mindy Kaling and the Television Academy have been feuding about whether the academy discriminated against Kaling when she was working on the NBC sitcom “The Office.”
In addition to appearing on screen on “The Office,” Kaling held a number of behind-the-scenes titles, including writer and producer.
The allegation of discrimination surfaced in an interview Kaling did with Elle.
The magazine sets up the situation this way: “Early on in her tenure at ‘The Office,’ the show was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. Shortly after, the Television Academy, which puts on the awards show, told Kaling that because there were too many producers on ‘The Office,’ they were going to cut her from the list. She, the only woman of color on the team, wouldn’t be eligible for an Emmy like the rest of the staff.”
The Elle report quotes Kaling saying that in order to receive recognition, “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.”
Kaling’s name was ultimately included in the list of producers.
Following coverage of the Elle report by other media outlets, the TV Academy provided its own version of the story in a statement.
“The Television Academy … has responded by saying the rule in place at that time required every producer to submit a form explaining their producer bona fides,” Variety reports. “The exercise came following concerns that too many ineligible producers, such as those not involved in the day-to-day production of series, were being included among the crowd accepting awards on stage.”
Variety quotes the academy saying in the statement: “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. Every performer/producer and writer/producer was asked to justify their producer credits. We no longer require this justification from performer/producers and writer/producers, but we do continue to vet consulting producer credits with the PGA to ensure those credited are actually functioning in the role as a producer.”
Variety adds: “Others that were vetted that year were executive producers Ben Silverman, Greg Daniels, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Howard Klein; co-executive producers Paul Lieberstein, Jennifer Celotta, Michael Schur, Kent Zbornak and Teri Weinberg; and supervising producer B.J. Novak. (Lieberstein and Novak were also regular on-camera performers on ‘The Office.’) It’s unclear, however, whether Kaling was asked to provide additional materials beyond what the other producers were required to submit.”
Kaling responded with a series of tweets, one of which you can see below. In another tweet she specifically references the Variety story, writing: “Hi @variety. This is not accurate. All the producers had to submit why they were producers. I was the ONLY one they subsequently cut from eligibility. So I had to get additional letters of recommendation of the producers they approved.”
Respectfully, the Academy’s statement doesn’t make any sense. I *was* singled out. 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’. https://t.co/frT2pQUfLF
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) October 9, 2019