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QUEENS OF COMEDY
They may have started their careers 60 years apart, but Betty White and Mindy Kaling – who met for the first time to celebrate the Television Academy's 70th anniversary as the joint cover girls for emmy magazine – have a lot in common: trailblazing careers, crackling timing and a passion for the small screen. Along with these portraits exclusively shared with PEOPLE.com, the two stars shared their thought on comedy, being the only woman in the room and, of course, dirty jokes aplenty.
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ORIGIN STORIES (AND DIRTY JOKES)
WHITE: "My mother and dad had a deliciously bawdy sense of humor. I was an only child, and we were such good buddies. Dad would come home with these jokes, and he'd never explain them to me – if I caught on, fine, and if I didn't, that was fine. But he'd say, 'You can take that one to school,' or 'I wouldn't take that one to school.' "
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WHY TV IS TOPS
WHITE: "[I knew early on that TV would last because] you were bringing things right into people's homes. They didn't have to go anywhere except the living room or wherever the television set was. And they could see the world."
KALING: "I always feel like: you meet a character, you want to keep learning more about them – that's the nature of television."
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ON BEING THE ONLY 'GAL' IN THE ROOM
WHITE: "I was completely in a man's world – but this was before the women's movement. I didn't think in those terms. I guess I was in television so early that they hadn't discovered that they shouldn't have women in there!"
KALING: "[When I first started working on The Office,] proving myself was less about being a woman or a minority, which is my otherness, and more about being, at 24, the only person who had not worked in TV before. … [Now that I'm running my own show,] I see a lot of streaks of overt sexism, and that's good for me to see. Because as an employer, I want to make sure that I don't allow that on my little show."
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WHITE'S FAVORITE CAREER MOMENT
"Right now. It's always right now. I love what I do. I love this business. At ninety-four, to still be working is above and beyond anything you dream about earlier. Believe me, I'm so deeply grateful – and still having a ball."
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MINDY KALING AND BETTY WHITE
Kaling and White's full emmy magazine cover story hits newsstands March 14.