Mindy Kaling has been a staple on our television screens ever since she joined "The Office" as Kelly Kapoor in 2008. Since then the 39-year-old actor, writer and producer has gone to work on projects like "The Mindy Project," "Inside Out" and this summer's comedy "Late Night." She also has been one of our favorite celebrities thanks to her candid and relatable nature -- and that side of her even carries into her wardrobe.
AOL's Julia Webb sat down with Kaling live in New York to hear more about her partnership with DSW and her upcoming projects. Read their full conversation below.
AOL: I shop at DSW probably a little too much, so I'm so excited to hear that you're a fan. Can you tell me how your partnership with the brand came to be?
Kaling: I've been shopping at DSW since I was 12 years old and I would go with my mom on the weekends. We weren’t these LA, New York mom-daughter things where you go to spin class or whatever together, we didn't do that -- we would go to Macy's and DSW and I just loved it.
We would bond over shopping, she loved fashion and clothing as much as I did, and what I loved especially about shopping [at DSW] was you didn’t have to ask someone there for your size, you could just grab your shoes and try them on quickly. And also when I remember going to college being like "ohh great, I can buy flip flops for going to the showers, but also cute shoes if I ever need to go out" and the price point was good. So it was a nice place to go with your family and you didn’t just buy one pair of shoes, you bought like three or four which was fun.
It's definitely hard to walk out with only one pair. Do you have a favorite summer shoe trend?
I love that very short window of time when you can wear platform espadrilles. I love an espadrille. I think they are so cute and I hate when its Labor Day and I’m like "oh I have to retire these for the year!" I just love the way they look.
You mentioned that DSW has incredible price points, which is definitely a major reason that they are so loved. But is there anything in your closet that you can't help but splurge on or treat yourself to?
Way more than one! I mean I love — and this is an insane thing to be into, because it's a growing obsolete thing -- but I love an expensive watch. I have a Cartier watch that I bought myself, the Ballon Bleu, I got it I think when our show ["The Mindy Project"] was picked up at Hulu or something, and I was like I’m just gonna buy it for myself and it's my favorite thing.
I feel like watches are great because they can help to mark a milestone.
Exactly. People buy watches when it's either a "congratulations" or they’ve had a big professional success, so it just makes me feel good whenever I wear it.
And speaking of professional success, I am so excited to see your new movie "Late Night" this summer where you are acting as a writer, producer and actor on the movie. What's it like to wear all of those different hats on the same project?
Well since "The Office," I was writing, acting and producing so I’m used to doing that. If I had not done [all three and] been an actress then all of a sudden had to do it, I would’ve been overwhelmed. But to be honest, it's more strange when I do a movie like "Oceans 8" or "A Wrinkle in Time" where I’m not the writer or producer and my contribution is to show up and get in hair and makeup and act. So for me I feel really comfortable wearing all those hats and I think that’s my ideal working experience -- to do all three.
That must be so cool to get to be a part of every aspect of a project.
And if it does well you sort of feel so much more responsible for the success than if you didn't have all those different roles.
I'm a major fan of Emma Thompson, your co-star in "Late Night." Do you have a favorite memory with her or with the cast while you were on set?
I think the thing with Emma, and this isn’t a specific memory, but this is something that was really delightful: she is in her 50s and she has this energy where she’s completely open. I think a lot of new actresses, when they’re young, they don’t want to offend anyone, so when they’re just talking, they go in very guarded. And there was a looseness to the way Emma would talk about her life and her opinions, which was so refreshing, like she really — while also being a very kind person — she did not censor herself, which I thought was fun.
I love that. I think it's so important to be bold in your choices and actions, and I feel like right now we're experiencing such a movement for women to be strong and to speak up, especially in the entertainment industry.
And she was supposed to do a movie at this animation company and she wrote a letter saying why she couldn’t do it anymore because of who they selected as the new head of the company, and I just think it's great that she can just speak her truth.
That's incredible. I'm so excited to hear that you're working on a new coming-of-age comedy with Netflix.
I'm really excited about that too, we're casting it right now!
I saw your casting call tweet! I can't wait to see which new faces come out of that massive casting.
Oh my god, it's been thrilling because there are so many Indian people in the show, and what’s been both a challenge and uniquely satisfying is that we are delving into this really untapped group of talent. So we're finding girls from Toronto, from South Africa, from India, from London, from Florida, like everywhere that are auditioning for these three roles -- I mean there are 15,000 people who responded to it.
That's a pretty heavy lift for you guys!
I thought that there would be for each role like okay a thousand, but the amount of people who responded has been huge, so the casting directors have just been sifting through auditions -- it's been really, really exciting.
And I hear it's autobiographical, right?
So because it's about an Indian teenager, I think the natural total assumption is that it's about my life, but it's about a girl living now, it's a modern show, it's not a period piece about my life. But there are obviously observations pulled from my own childhood in her life. I think I’m not allowed to talk about it too much, but it's a pretty unusual story and it's a story about really her relationship with her mother and her friends at school so I’m excited for people to see it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
See more of Mindy below: