Kaling recently revealed in an interview that she was the only producer on The Office who had to write an essay about her contributions in order to receive recognition for an Emmy
The actress, who also worked as an executive producer, director and writer on the NBC series, recently opened up in an interview with ELLE about a particular time that she experienced sexism and racism while working on the show.
Kaling, 40, recalled a moment early in her career when The Office was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding comedy series, but claimed that the Academy told her there were too many producers on the show, so she would be cut from the list and subsequently ineligible for an Emmy.
As the only woman of color on the producing team, Kaling said she was forced to “fill out a whole form and write an essay about all my contributions as a writer and a producer” — the only person who allegedly needed to do so — in order to receive proper recognition by the Academy.
“I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself,” she told ELLE, adding that her name was eventually included in the list, but The Office ultimately lost the award.
Though the star felt the gesture was personal, the Academy felt otherwise and said on Wednesday that they asked everyone who was being considered for a producing Emmy at the time to prove their contributions.
“No one person was singled out,” a Television Academy spokesperson tells PEOPLE in response to Kaling’s interview with ELLE. “There was an increasing concern years ago regarding the number of performers and writers seeking producer credits. At the time the Producers Guild worked with the Television Academy to correctly vet producer eligibility.”
“Every performer-producer and writer-producer was asked to justify their producer credits,” the spokesperson added, noting that they “no longer require this justification from performer-producers and writer-producers.”
The Academy’s statement, however, eventually caught the attention of Kaling — who then doubled down on her claims and accused the organization of being sexist and racist.
“Respectfully, the Academy’s statement doesn’t make any sense. I *was* singled out,” she wrote in a tweet shortly afterward. “There were other Office writer-performer-producers who were NOT cut from the list. Just me. The most junior person, and woman of color. Easiest to dismiss. Just sayin’.”
The Late Night star elaborated on her thoughts in a thread of tweets that followed her initial post and said that although she valued every moment working on The Office and did not want to ruin her relationship with the Academy, she felt this issue was important to bring to the forefront.
“I’ve never wanted to bring up that incident because The Office was one of the greatest creative experiences of my life, and who would want to have an adversarial relationship with the Academy, who has the ongoing power to enhance our careers with awards?” she wrote.
“But I worked so hard and it was humiliating. I had written so many episodes, put in so much time in the editing room, just to have the Academy discard it because they couldn’t fathom I was capable of doing it all,” Kaling continued. “Thankfully I was rescued by my friends, the other producers.”
“The point is, we shouldn’t have [to] be bailed out because of the kindness our more powerful white male colleagues. Not mentioning it seemed like glossing over my story. This was like ten years ago. Maybe it wouldn’t happen now. But it happened to me,” she added.
When contacted by PEOPLE in regards to Kaling’s Twitter rebuttal, a spokesperson for the Academy declined to comment further and said that “all of this was addressed in our [original] statement.”
Since her time on The Office, Kaling has gone on to be a force in the comedy world, both in front of and behind the camera.
From 2012 to 2017, Kaling starred in, produced and wrote for The Mindy Project — becoming the first woman of color to do so for a primetime sitcom.
This year, she wrote, starred in and produced Late Night, as well as created, wrote and executive produced Hulu’s Four Weddings and a Funeral and the upcoming Netflix series Never Have I Ever.
She’s also been especially busy balancing motherhood with her successful career as she focuses on raising her daughter Katherine, who turns 2 in December.