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Mindy Kaling Recalls “Humiliating” Discrimination Before Her First Emmy Nomination for The Office

Mindy Kaling and the TV Academy seem to remember her vetting process to be listed as a producer on The Office very differently. In a recent interview with Elle, the actor said the Academy “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.” The Academy responded Wednesday by saying that Kaling underwent the same vetting process as the rest of the Office’s producers that year—but in a series of tweets posted after the Academy’s response, Kaling stood her ground, writing, “Maybe it wouldn’t happen now. But it happened to me.”

As Elle notes, Kaling’s name was ultimately included among the show’s producers when The Office was nominated for outstanding comedy—although the show did not win. In a statement to Variety, the Academy wrote, “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.”

The old policy, Variety notes, resulted from concerns that too many ineligible producers were beginning to make their way onto the stage to accept gold statuettes.

Variety lists several The Office producers who were also vetted the same year as Kaling: executive producers Ben Silverman, Greg Daniels, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Howard Klein, as well as co-executive producers Paul Lieberstein, Jennifer Celotta, Michael Schur, Kent Zbornak, and Teri Weinberg, and supervising producer B.J. Novak. V.F. has reached out to several of these producers for confirmation and comment, and will update this post accordingly.

Kaling stood firm in her memory on Monday afternoon. “Respectfully, the Academy’s statement doesn’t make any sense. I was singled out,” she wrote on Twitter. “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?” she wrote. “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.”

She concluded: “The point is, we shouldn’t have be bailed out because of the kindness [of] our more powerful white male colleagues. 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.”

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