Mindy Kaling wants to be more personal. In the introduction to her latest book, Why Not Me?, the writer and actor explains that "If my childhood, teens and twenties were about wanting people to like me, now I want people to know me."
On Saturday night, in conversation with author Michael Lewis at City Arts & Lectures in San Francisco, that openness was on full display to a sold-out house. Kaling spoke of her desire to have kids, ribbed Lewis on his defense of Woody Allen and even fielded a question about writers' inside jokes from surprise guest B.J. Novak. Along the way, Kaling dispensed smart, self-aware anecdotes and advice. Here's a quick sample.
On advice for aspiring actors:
"Here's the thing -- this is for young women, and it seems like there's a lot of young women here -- you can't expect encouragement. You might be lucky, and have nice parents – I was born very lucky, and I had that – but you can't expect it at all. The encouragement you have to find is within you, in that little fire that everyone's always trying to put out. And you're like, 'Ah, no, it's still there. I still wanna do it, and I'm gonna do it.' So getting used to people encouraging you? You can't get hooked on that, because it will not come until much, much later, after you've proved it yourself. That seems like a bummer thing to say, but it's true. I mean, when you're a chubby Indian kid with a haircut that's like a boy's, sitting in the classroom, and you say you want to be a leading lady in your own plays, any reasonable person would be like, 'Eehhh... I'd revise your ambitions.'"
On the impetus to write, and the obligation to be funny: