WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — For many writers, the prospect of penning a sequel to one of the most beloved films of all time, on top of managing multiple writers’ rooms, might be enough pressure to freeze them in their tracks.
For Mindy Kallingit’s just another day.
Speaking with USA TODAY at the Pendry West Hollywood hotel on Wednesday, Kaling, 43, barely had time to sit and relax after participating in a panel about her partnership with Zelle. Later that day, Kaling was expected at the writers’ rooms of Netflix‘s “Never Have I Ever” and hbo max‘s “The Sex Live of College Girls” (both of which she executive produces). She was also set to meet with “Brooklyn 99” creator Dan Goor to discuss “Legally Blonde 3,” which they’re co-writing.
“In a good way, I’m not sort of allowed to have writers’ block,” Kaling says. “We just have deadlines, and you have to keep going. And that’s the nature of TV. It works very well if you’re impatient, and you just have to find a solution quickly.”
Plus, working hard has been a staple of Kaling’s TV career, which kicked off in 2005 with her turn as Kelly Kapoor on the hit sitcom “The Office.”
“It’s funny that I make it look easy, because I think the one constant in my life is how much effort I put into anything and how effortful my life has been,” she says. “Because getting to a position where you’re creating your own opportunities can be very hard and very challenging.”
In addition to her rigorous work schedule, Kaling is also mom to her 4-year-old daughter Katherine and 1-year-old son Spencer.
Juggling parenthood with work can be tricky, but Kaling is grateful to have the help of a full-time nanny and two assistants. She also says her door is always open to her daughter whenever she’s working from home.
“I’m always writing, but what’s great is now I have an open door policy,” she says. “Unless I’m on a work Zoom, she can come in (my room), and the nature of my job is that I can stop for five minutes and hang out with her for a little bit.”
Over the course of her almost two-decade-long career, Kaling has firsthand seen how comedy has evolved since she started out. With social media sites like TikTok, she says up-and-coming comedians can face undue pressure to constantly post content in hopes of gaining exposure.
It’s something she’s thankful she never had to deal with.
“I grew up (with no) social media, so there wasn’t this expectation that I needed to be putting stuff out there as a creator,” she says. “That really benefited me, because I didn’t have that pressure at 18, 19, 20, 22 to be doing anything but learning.”
Kaling’s got a lot on her to-do list. One daunting project is “Legally Blonde 3,” a sequel to the original 2001 film that catapulted Reese witherspoon to fame. The film had another sequel, “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde,” in 2003.
The first two films saw Witherspoon’s bubbly attorney Elle Woods in her twenties, but Kaling says she and Gore Goor have been imagining what Elle would be like in her forties for “Legally Blonde 3.” Witherspoon, 46, is set to reprise her role as Ella in the sequel.
“It’s exciting, and it’s intimidating because I think it’s Reese’s most iconic role,” she says. “I’m used to things where I’m creating original characters and to adapt the tone of a previous hit movie, that’s a great writing challenge for me.”
Kaling aims to have a draft done this summer and send it off to Witherspoon.
“I just want to make Reese happy,” she says.
Then it’s on to the next one.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism