Mindy Kaling is basically superwoman. She’s starred in films and TV shows, written two New York Times best-selling memoirs and boasts writer, executive producer, and director credits. Did we mention she also created one of the funniest romcom TV shows in existence and is also a mother?
While Kaling’s has had some great successes, she — like the rest of Hollywood — had to start somewhere. We’re here to dive into some of Kaling’s hidden cameos and most highly rated starring roles (sorry, A Wrinkle in Time).
Let’s kick it off with a little comedy gold.
10 Starring: The Office
Many know that Kaling made her small screen debut as Kelly Kapoor in The Office, the chatterbox gossip who had a never-ending on-and-off relationship with Ryan Howard. What many don’t know is that Kaling was also a writer, executive producer, and director throughout many of the series’ seasons.
She ended up leaving The Office after its eighth season to create her own single-camera comedy for Fox. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet…
9 Cameo: The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The film released shortly after Season 1 of The Office premiered.
8 Starring: The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project followed Kaling — who played an OB-GYN also named Mindy — on her endless quest find love in New York City. Kaling also created and produced the show, getting The Office alums including B.J. Novak (Ryan Howard), Ed Helms (Andy Bernard), and Ellie Kemper (Erin Hannon) to make guest appearances. The series was canceled by Fox in 2015 after airing for three seasons, but Hulu picked it up for an additional three more.
The over-the-top romcom was relatable, heartfelt, and funny-as-anything, making it as one of Kaling’s best works all around.
7 Cameo: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Even though she doesn’t get more screen time, we’re glad that some of her signature sass made its way into the film.
6 Starring: Inside Out
Disgust’s main purpose is to keep the eleven-year-old girl she lives inside from doing anything gross — and that definitely includes keeping her away from broccoli.
5 Cameo: Tourist Mom in "Despicable Me"
Remember the opening scene of Despicable Me in which Justin flies his toy plane into the fake inflatable pyramid? Good. Remember his distracted tourist mother who makes an unsuccessful attempt to catch him as he descends toward the ground? That was Mindy.
While Kaling wasn’t in the film beyond a few minutes, knowing she was in it at all makes it just a little bit better.
The film was released in 2010, meaning that while Kaling had made a name for herself on TV, she was relatively new to the movie world. Thankfully, she didn’t stay in the background for long.
4 Starring: Ocean's 8
Ocean’s 8 is both a continuation and spin-off of the Ocean’s trilogy. The comedy heist film’s ensemble cast featured many praised actress including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkwafina, and — last but not least — Kaling.
Kaling played a jewelry maker named Amita who uses her skills to help the girl crew steal a multi-million dollar necklace.
3 Cameo: Wreck-It Ralph
In Wreck-It Ralph, Kaling voices Vanellope’s lollipop-licking competitor in their arcade game, Sugar Rush. While she had a more prominent role in Disney’s modern gaming classic compared to the ones she held in the sequel to Night at the Museum or Despicable Me, her portrayal of Taffyta came on the edge of her starring role in The Mindy Project and before she made it big in the movie world.
Still, we can’t help but love how sassy and sweet Taffyta turned out to be. Unfortunately for Kaling fans, she was replaced by Melissa Villaseñor in the sequel — probably because they couldn’t pay her enough.
2 Starring: Late Night
Most recently, Kaling wrote, produced, and starred in Late Night. This comedy-drama saw Kaling acting as a writer who teams up with Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) to save her late-night talk show.
Critics praised the film for its social commentary and lively cast — which, of course — featured Kaling.
Much of her own life can be seen in that of her character, Molly, who works hard to have her voice heard in a male-dominated writers’ room. We’re certainly glad they’ve both found a way to work to the top.
1 Cameo: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Kaling guest stars as the business savvy Cindy in an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia entitled “The Gang Makes Paddy’s Great Again.”
The episode opened Season 13, and while many fans were hopeful Kaling would appear in later episodes, this was the one and only time Kaling showed up during the season.
Sure, there’s a fourteenth season coming up. Yes, it’s doubtful we’ll be seeing Cindy again.