Mindy Kaling opens up to PEOPLE about ageism and sexism in the industry, and how she thinks it's getting better for working moms
Mindy Kaling is getting comfortable in navigating the waters of new motherhood as a working mom.
The actress and writer chatted with PEOPLE Thursday at Caruso’s Palisades Village Opening Gala in Pacific Palisades, California, opening up about her experience with ageism and sexism in her industry and how that has played into her life as a mother to daughter Katherine Swati, 9 months.
“You see all these photos of writers and you’re like, ‘Oh, there’s nobody with gray hair or anyone older than 40.’ And I’m 39, so that’s frightening, especially when you have a baby,” Kaling said. “But what I’ve been noticing more and more is that there are more working women. And the writers’ room … is one of the most ageist places ever.”
“There’s more mature people working on shows,” she adds. “I think that’s gonna be the next big push, actually, is making places so you can be a mom, have your kids, bring your kids to work if you need to. That’s what Tracey Wigfield and I are doing on our new show.”
“But I think it’s a tiny bit sexist as well, and people are worried that because you have kids you won’t be able to pay more attention,” Kaling continues. “Any mother will tell you it makes you so razor-sharp focused on your career because you’re so worried about money.”
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Kaling is counting her blessings, though. After almost 15 years in the industry, she admits she has had a “rarefied” experience in the sense that now “I’m creating my own opportunities” in terms of a career.
“And when I do that, my baby comes to work a couple times a week, and I live 15 minutes away from [work], and I create our schedule, so if I need to take her to the doctor I can,” she explains.
“I know that’s not the case for everybody else, and I feel really lucky, but yeah, that’s my life right now,” says The Office alum.
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Kaling admits to buying a lot of things for her daughter on Amazon and jokes that motherhood is “basically finding activities for children in three-hour pockets of time for the rest of your life.”
“That’s all I do. I’m stand-up comedian,” says the single mom. “I do a one-woman show for her, and it’s so fun. But there’s not enough places in the world, literally. That’s why I’m excited to be here and to bring her here.”
And regardless of what she thought before becoming a parent, Kaling says she was “completely wrong” about how the experience was going to play out.
“It certainly makes you appreciate marriage because you have someone else to be like, ‘Hey, can you do a one-man show now that is both hilarious and poignant for her, and is filled with physical comedy?’ So I’ve been impressed by myself, actually,” she quips.