This month, several female employees from Vitalyst attended the ever-inspiring 13th annual Pennsylvania Conference for Women with over 7,000 attendees. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share our perspectives with you through a series of blog posts capturing highlights from some of the most powerful sessions.
Did you know that only 20 percent of writers in Hollywood are women? It’s a staggering statistic considering this number comes from the entertainment industry—a field often thought to be progressive and groundbreaking. But there is a silver lining: The 20 percent who have succeeded in Hollywood are extraordinary.
One such person is Mindy Kaling, who delivered one of the keynote speeches at the recent Pennsylvania Conference for Women. Kaling is best known for her acting roles—as Kelly Kapoor on “The Office” (NBC, 2005-2013), and currently as Dr. Mindy Lahiri on “The Mindy Project” (Fox, Hulu, 2012-present)—but she’s also an accomplished writer, producer and director.
In her keynote, Kaling described her time as a writer for “The Office” as atypical for a woman and considered herself truly lucky to have experienced it. Her colleagues valued her perspective and unique point of view. In addition to being the only woman on a writing staff of eight, she was also a woman of color, born to Hindu parents from India. She brought something else to the table in an otherwise all-male, all-white room—resulting in better material and more relatable scripts.
Her career hasn’t been all smooth sailing, however. She spoke of the expected norm for women in Hollywood to network and further their career by flirting. Kaling said she couldn’t conform to the norm, and recalled how she often stayed home to work on her many scripts instead.
When Kaling faced another challenge in her career—Fox Broadcasting canceled “The Mindy Project” in May 2015, and on-demand streaming service Hulu promptly picked it up—she demonstrated her ability to easily adjust to change. She turned what could have been a significant setback into a rich opportunity. She even realized that she liked the Hulu platform better than network TV.
When Kaling faced another challenge in her career, she turned what could have been a significant setback into a rich opportunity.
Kaling’s achievements are rooted in her relatability and aptitude for writing real-life scenes that are laugh-out-loud funny. She also credits her success to her Hindu upbringing and a culture that puts little emphasis on looks and instead focuses on hard work and determination—something she believes in wholeheartedly.
I’ve personally enjoyed her work and appreciate the realness she brings to otherwise same-old TV. I believe she’s forging the way for other women in Hollywood and we’re going to see more actors, writers, producers and directors follow in her footsteps. Mindy Kaling is just getting started and I can’t wait to see what she brings.