"I've never been a super sentimental person, but I've been taking a lot of photos," Mindy Kaling admits to PEOPLE of being a new mom to daughter Katherine

By Aili Nahas
March 09, 2018 03:35 PM

It’s already shaping up to be a banner year for Mindy Kaling.

The groundbreaking writer and actress has two hot films (A Wrinkle in Time and Ocean’s Eight) and a new comedy series, Champions. But most importantly, she’s a new mom to daughter Katherine Swati.

“I love looking at her and figuring out who she’s going to be,” says Kaling, 38, of her baby girl, who was born Dec. 15. “It’s so much fun!”

And when it comes to parenting advice, she has some famous friends to turn to. “Over text message, Reese [Witherspoon] talked me through how to carry an infant car seat on the airplane,” says Kaling of her Wrinkle costar.

She adds, “We’re doing so much international travel and she was giving me really practical advice on how to carry a screaming baby on the plane. The most useful!”

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Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling
| Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

RELATED VIDEO: Champions Star Andy Favreau Calls Mindy Kaling a “Role Model” for How She Balances Her Career and Motherhood

And the duo’s fellow Wrinkle costar Oprah Winfrey just may have out-Oprah’d herself with Katherine’s baby gift. Says Kaling, “She gave Katherine a custom bookcase in the shape of a castle and inside of it are 100 of the essential children’s books in the past 100 years.”

“Each book has embossed on it, ‘Katherine’s Book Club,’ ” she raves. “It’s the gift that just keeps giving for years and years. I’ve already read her at least 10 of them. I’m so floored by it!”

Mindy Kaling
| Credit: John Shearer/Getty

The actress and writer says she’s excited to be raising Katherine during a time of such positive change and female empowerment.

“When I came to L.A. 13 years ago, I don’t think there was one sitcom with a female lead,” says Kaling. “Women and minorities were not being seen or being heard. Now, all the sitcoms I love star women. Change happens. It’s amazing.”

Her new show Champions, which Kaling co-created and stars in, features a young gay man as the lead. “I came from The Mindy Project, which had a strong female point of view, and I thought it would be really fun to do a young person,” she says. “You don’t see a lot of shows written for young gay men to be the lead. So we did it!”

Mindy Kaling
| Credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty

Adds the star, “It feels really exciting that everything I’m doing is woke and ultramodern.” And now that she’s a mom, “I keep thinking about my legacy and impact. I want to have a message.”

There’s certainly lots to do, but for now, Kaling is making sure to have plenty of time to relish in new-baby bliss — and document as much as she can along the way.

“I’ve never been a super sentimental person, but I’ve been taking a lot of photos,” she says. “I want to remember
everything. She’s only been in this world for three months and I have like eight framed photos of her in my home. At this rate there will be no wall space left!”

Kaling is loving baby Katherine’s newest milestone. “Her whole thing now is constant smiles,” she says. “I’m waking up every three hours to feed her and it’s a lot.”

“But just when I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is overwhelming,’ she throws me a huge smile,” continues the proud new mom. “It’s the best part of my day.”

Champions airs Thursdays on NBC.

For more from Mindy Kaling, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.