There were plenty of valid criticisms of the first season of Fox’s The Mindy Project, which—while promising from the very first episode—clearly struggled to find its footing out of the gate. Supporting cast members came and went (Anna Camp, we hardly knew ye!), and the focus seemed to shift from week to week. (Was it a rom-com? A workplace comedy? Midway through the season, it finally successfully managed to be both.)
But there was one critique that Kaling takes issue with: the gripe that her TV alter ego, Dr. Mindy Lahiri, only dates white guys. True, her most notable love interests in season 1 were played by Tommy Dewey, B.J. Novak, Seth Rogen, Mark Duplass, and Anders Holm (above). But who says that’s a problem?
“Do people really wonder on other shows if female leads are dating multicultural people?” the poster child for our New Hollywood Issue asks EW in our cover story this week. “Like I owe it to every race and minority and beleaguered person. I have to become the United Nations of shows?”
Still, she says, she’s not losing sleep over the haters. “You can’t please everyone,” she says. “I’m lucky, though, because I don’t have time to fixate, because there’s 24 episodes of TV to create.”
She also refuses to be pigeonholed by fans (and journalists) who praise her for pushing boundaries as a woman of color—who’s not a size zero—in Hollywood. “Most of the time when people want to talk to me about my job it’s about three things: not skinny, multi-cultural, woman who is female,” she notes. “I don’t want to minimize that it’s a source of inspiration to young people, but I was just born in this skin, so it’s not something I think about while I’m writing.”
As for her body, “I’m not courageous for not being thin. I never chose to be chubby,” she insists. “I don’t have the inclination to eat well or the time to exercise. I’m like every American woman who’d like to lose weight.”
For more on Kaling—plus our list of the 50 most exciting and creative talents currently blowing up the industry—pick up our New Hollywood Issue, on stands Friday.