Actor, writer, producer, director and author Mindy Kaling, 38, was born and raised in Cambridge, and attended Buckingham Browne & Nichols School before graduating from Dartmouth College, where she studied classics prior to switching to playwriting. After college, she moved to New York and in 2002 appeared in Matt and Ben, a play she’d co-written about Damon and Affleck that became a cult hit. She became widely known for her role as Kelly Kapoor on The Office, and she also wrote, produced and directed episodes for the series. Her show The Mindy Project debuted in 2012, and its final season premieres on Hulu in September. Her next project, Champions, will air on NBC starting in the fall. On the big screen, her credits include The 40-Year-Old Virgin, No Strings Attached, Despicable Me and the forthcoming films Ocean’s Eight and A Wrinkle in Time. Her comedic memoirs Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) and Why Not Me? are both best-sellers. She lives in Los Angeles.
Jonathan Soroff: Thing you laugh at but shouldn’t?
Mindy Kaling: I love accents and I’m never offended by them. I’m like Michael Scott [from The Office] that way.
When and where was the first time you ever felt popular? Never. Still waiting for the popularity thing to happen.
When was the first time you felt like a celebrity? About seven years ago, a woman at a Thai restaurant told me she loved me on Parks & Recreation.
Best advice you’ve ever given anyone? If you’re meeting a woman for a date, it’s better to be two hours late than 10 minutes early.
How many seasons do you think Champions will run? Probably like 18 seasons, and then 10 years later we’ll come back and do a set of reunion shows once all of our careers have not gone the way we wanted.
How is doing the last season of The Mindy Project most different from the first? It’s much easier. We’re doing 10 episodes, and we’re at Hulu, so we have a little more creative freedom. Plus, I now know how to make the million costume changes I do each episode much faster.
When you were at BB&N, were you the class clown? I wasn’t. I was the friendly, chubby nerd.
Who’s funnier: you or your funniest family member? I think that most modest celebrities would say their funniest family member, but I think they’d all be lying, so I’m gonna say me.
Thing you miss most about Boston? I miss ethnic white people.
How’s your Latin these days? Extremely rusty. It’s pretty much confined to reading off of coins, trying to impress people at dinner parties.
Any plays in your future? I haven’t written a play in 15 years. I think I have stage fright now. Live performance was reserved for my older 20s. Now I have more anxiety about it.
You interned on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Is he the quickest wit you know? To this day, I will say he is the quickest person I know. Just unbelievably clever and fast.
Worst habit? I interrupt people when I think I know where their train of thought is going, and it’s almost always wrong. Also, I have a million questions during movies. I’m the one who asks loudly, “Is that the murderer?” Or “Is that the same blond actress from the other scene?”
Likelihood of a Broadway revival of Matt and Ben? Very, very unlikely, although I will say that was probably the funnest part I ever played.
Ever been the graduation speaker at any of your alma maters, and if so, what did you say? I’ve never spoken at any of my alma maters, which I’m choosing not to read too much into. But I have spoken at the Harvard Law School commencement, for some odd reason. [Laughs.] And I think whatever I told them was pretty boring, something like “Just be kind.” But I was a 33-year-old giving Harvard law students advice, so the whole situation was wrong.
Is Anders Holm, who stars in Champions, your type? I think he’s the average American woman’s type. He’s a great guy. Super funny. Handsome. Former athlete. Great husband and father. And I certainly hope he becomes every woman’s type by the end of our show.
TV guilty pleasures? To quote Quentin Tarantino, “I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. I only believe in pleasures.”
Last time you flossed? I went to the orthodontist last week because I have these invisible braces, and so I last flossed about 15 minutes ago. I do it about 15 times a day. I’m a pathological flosser, and it’s a major part of my life.
Least favorite topic of conversation? It would have to be either how tired someone is or someone talking about their dreams. I don’t mean like goals and aspirations. I’m talking about their nightly dreams.
What one book would you take to a deserted island? The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.
Favorite comedian? Well, I’m kind of partial to my best friend, B.J. Novak, but lately, I’m loving Ali Wong. She’s a genius. So funny.
Favorite TV show when you were growing up? In Living Color. It made me feel cool watching it, and it also made me laugh. Plus, there were the Fly Girls with a pre-J.Lo Jennifer Lopez.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be? I’m TSA pre-clear, so I’m all good. ♦
Location: The London West Hollywood Hotel Penthouse; Hair: Cindy Williams; Makeup: Laura Larocca; Manicure: Jolene Brodeur; Styling: Cristina Ehrlich; Wardrobe by Lavish Alice (top) and Rebecca Taylor