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Mindy Kaling receives Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television at Producers Guild of America Awards

By: Mohnish Singh

On Saturday, February 25, Mindy Kaling received the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television at Producers Guild Awards for her work producing shows including The Mindy ProjectThe Sex Lives of College GirlsNever Have I EverVelma, and The Office.

B.J. Novak, who worked with Kaling on The Office, presented her the award Saturday night. Recalling his days on the sets of the popular show, he said, “The first thing I noticed about Mindy in that writers’ room is that she cared so much about everything. We were in love with each other, and we were reckless idiots, and the two of us would argue about all of these things forever grinding the writers’ room into a halt until we got too upset and we go to our respective offices and slammed the door where we would continue arguing over AOL and instant messenger. It was 2005.”

“Now, it would be tempting to tie all this together by saying how much Mindy grew up or changed since those early days. But what’s more important is how much she didn’t change. No matter how much pressure she felt, how silly or self-conscious she could have been to care so much about so many things, especially when some of those things had never been on television before,” he added. “She knows a lot about producing now, but she was great at it even before she did because she’s a great producer for the same reason that many people, including her, are great parents right away. She cares so much that she either knows what to do or finds out fast.”

In her acceptance speech, Kaling said, “Like most people, everything goes back to parents. I am a child of immigrants and that unexpectedly became my secret weapon.”

Kaling, 43, shared that her parents have always believed in her dreams.

“I owe it to my parents but also to luck. I won the lottery in mentors with Greg Daniels and Howard Klein the producers of The Office,” she said.

She said she remembers when her mother got sick and how she loved watching her favorite shows so “she didn’t have to think about how she was feeling. … She could just laugh and we could laugh together, and it was the first time I think I truly understood the power of what we do to take people away from their pain and their struggles just for a moment and enjoy it.”

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