Academy responds to Mindy Kaling's claim she was 'singled out' to defend producer credit

“I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself,” Kaling said.
Image: Today - Season 68
Mindy Kaling on "Today" on June 6, 2019.Zach Pagano / TODAY

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By Kimmy Yam

The organization that hosts the Emmy Awards show responded Thursday to Mindy Kaling’s claims that early on in her career, it attempted to remove her producer credit from “The Office.” She was the only female producer of color on the show at the time.

In an interview with Elle published Wednesday, Kaling claimed that the Television Academy approached her after the show’s Emmy nomination to tell her she would be cut from the producing credits. She added that in order to prove herself worthy of a credit, the academy mandated that only she, “not any of the other producers, fill out a whole form and write an essay about all my contributions as a writer and a producer.”

“I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself,” Kaling, who was ultimately added to the final list of credits, told the outlet.

A spokesperson for the academy told NBC News that 41 producers across several programs were required to justify their credits, including at least two others from “The Office,” Paul Lieberstein and B.J. Novak.

“The academy has the utmost respect for Ms. Kaling and her work, and we regret if she felt singled out,” the spokesperson said. “But we do not believe that was the case.”

The organization had provided an earlier statement to The Los Angeles Times, noting that there was “an increasing concern years ago regarding the number of performers and writers seeking producer credits. At the time, the Producers Guild worked with the Television Academy to correctly vet producer eligibility.”

Shortly afterward, the actress responded through a series of tweets, claiming that the “Academy’s statement doesn’t make any sense” before doubling down on her earlier claim.

“There were other Office writer-performer-producers who were NOT cut from the list. Just me. The most junior person, and woman of color. Easiest to dismiss. Just sayin’,” she tweeted.

Kaling went on to explain that she hadn’t addressed the subject in the past, due in part to the academy’s power in the industry. She described the experience as “humiliating.”

“The point is, we shouldn’t have be bailed out because of the kindness our more powerful white male colleagues," she wrote on Twitter. "Not mentioning it seemed like glossing over my story. This was like ten years ago. Maybe it wouldn’t happen now. But it happened to me.”

According to Deadline, the academy has cracked down on producers in the past. The outlet reported that the removal of producer credits from David Finkel and Brett Baer of “30 Rock,” in addition to Kaling in 2007, drew so much backlash that the credits were reinstated and the organization subsequently readjusted its standards.

John Leverence, the TV Academy’s senior vice president of awards at the time, chalked up Kaling’s initial elimination to her multiple roles on the show, describing her predicament as “a situation in which [her duties] in three separate categories gave the committee pause. A red flag went up.”

The actress did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

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