Mindy Kaling is in a unique position in Hollywood. Not many actresses with her ethnic background have made the kind of impact on Hollywood that Kaling has. Her irreverent, but somehow self-conscious take on all things around her had drawn fans like honey.
"People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work. That's a mistake," she writes. "I know I sound like some dour older spinster chambermaid on Downton Abbey who has never felt a man's touch and whose heart has turned to stone, but I don't understand how you could have self-confidence if you don't do the work."
Even so, Kaling admits that there are some things she has to deal with that defy all logic and effort.
“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”
If you watch the Bachelor or the Bachelorette don't ever tell me you're "so busy"
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) August 8, 2015
Still, Mindy Kaling didn't drift into her success, or get accidentally discovered. She worked for it. She touts the virtues of hard work.
"I have never, ever, ever, met a high confident person and successful person who is not what a movie would call a 'workaholic.' We can't have it both ways, and children should know it," she writes. "Because confidence is like respect; you have to earn it."
Even her experiences growing up prepared her for the notion that she had to earn what she won, not get handed some consolation prize.
Mindy Kaling related an experience at a basketball camp she went to as a kid. She was terrible at basketball, but her fellow campers had given her an award for "Coolest Clothes."
"I ran home, delighted, and placed it proudly on top of our TV for all to see," she says. "Weeks later, I went to the TV room to find that it was gone. My beautiful trophy! Was it stolen by a gang of criminals jealous of my peach denim shorts from the Limited Too?! Mom told me she had "put it away." I didn't understand. Someone had singled me out for praise and the trophy deserved to be seen. Then my mom said something to me, slowly and carefully, like she always did to make sure I was really listening: 'They gave you that trophy so you wouldn't feel bad, not because you deserved it. You should know the difference.' "
Her new book is not all life lessons. Kaling brings her irreverent humor to observations about the business she is in, especially on the topic of body image.
“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”
some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don't hate themselves. So that's why you need to be a little bit brave. -Mindy Kaling
— Nadia Bolz-Weber (@Sarcasticluther) August 8, 2015