From acting and executive producing to being a mom, Mindy Kaling can do it all.
The 39-year-old star — who welcomed her first child, daughter Katherine Swati, last December — reveals to PEOPLE how she’s been able to maximize her professional creativity while preserving family time with her baby girl.
“I’m really lucky because I get to create my own job opportunities. Because I do that, I can fit my daughter into my job. It’s a luxury most American women don’t have,” Kaling says.
“It’s one of the nice things of having had my baby a little bit later in my career. I can be like, ‘Hey, I want a little area that I can have my daughter play because I want to check up on her at work.’ That is probably the biggest perk of my life: to involve my daughter so much in my career,” explains the star, who has teamed up with Mastercard and Stand Up To Cancer for their #StartSomethingPriceless campaign.
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Between writing and starring in Late Night — a movie she’s co-starring in with Emma Thompson — and producing the Hulu reboot of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Kaling is also moonlighting as a swimming instructor for baby Katherine.
“I’m teaching her how to swim. It’s great when you teach a 9-month-old how to swim because the bar is really low, which is great because I’m not a really strong swimmer but it’s making me feel athletic,” she says. “Every weekend now I try to swim with her, like 45 minutes in the pool. It’s one of the nice things living in Los Angeles. I can pretty much do that all year round and slowly teach her how to swim.”
Another milestone that Katherine has achieved is saying some of her first words.
“She started saying ‘Mama.’ Although she’s kind of just saying like, ‘Mama mama ma.’ So I have decided to just take it personally and decide that she is saying ‘Mama’ to me. Although she says it to the lamp,” jokes the Mindy Project creator.
Whether it’s bonding in the pool or spending quality time together at home, Kaling loves to be hands-on with her daughter. But taking her infant out to eat at a fancy restaurant is proving to be a bit trickier.
“She is so messy. I’ve never taken her to anywhere fancy. Forget it, she’s not going to somewhere fancy until she’s 21,” The Office alum jokes.
Kaling, whose mother died from pancreatic cancer in 2012, has partnered with Mastercard and Stand Up to Cancer to encourage fans to dine out on Oct. 10 and spend $10 or more using their Mastercard as part of its “Make It a Date” campaign. Mastercard will donate $1 — up to $4 million — to support cancer research. Mastercard has donated $41 million to Stand Up To Cancer since 2010.
As for who she would “make a date” with on Oct. 10, Kaling says, “The person I know who will always be available, in a good way, is my friend B.J. [Novak],” adding, “I’d probably take him out to sushi because he’s an expensive date. I’d probably take him to Nobu and that’d be a really, really great way to get to that $4 million because that place is really nice but very expensive.”