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Why Mindy Kaling Had to Turn Down Her ‘Dream’ Job at SNL

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With the national release of her first major film just a few days away, Mindy Kaling arrived to this week’s taping of The Last Laugh podcast ready to talk. Wearing a red T-shirt with the words “Tu me fais rougir mon cherie” emblazoned across the front, it was admittedly a bit hard not to blush in front of the writer behind some of the best episodes of The Office and the creator of The Mindy Project.

Her latest outing is Late Night, a rom-com of sorts set behind-the-scenes at a fictional late-night talk show hosted by Emma Thompson’s Katherine Newbury. Kaling, who wrote the script with Thompson in mind—“I didn’t really want to write it for a man,” she tells me—plays Molly Patel, the only woman and person of color on the show’s writing staff.

It’s an experience that mirrors her own when she was brought onto the U.S. version of The Office in 2005 as a “diversity hire,” meaning her salary was covered by the network and the show was actually disincentivized to promote her. “It’s a wonderful program, but I was so embarrassed to be part of it,” she says. “Because to me it felt like, oh God, is that the only reason why I’m here?” Kaling ended up staying on as a writer and performer for eight seasons, earning five Emmy nominations along the way.

During our conversation, we talked about how these themes run through her new film and looked back at one fateful decision early in her career to stick with The Office instead of accepting what she describes as her........

© The Daily Beast