Mindy Kaling wonders why people are unable to imagine “a smart, nerdy girl with terrible eyesight” as an Indian. “Like, there are Indian nerds,” Mindy added. “It shouldn’t be a surprise to people,” said during an appearance on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” on July 22.
The actor, producer, and author was responding to criticism she’s received about Velma Dinkley’s character being reimagined as a South Asian in a Scooby-Doo spinoff that will be available exclusively on HBO Max. She will also serve as an executive producer on the series, with her frequent collaborator Charlie Grandy, and Howard Klein, and Sam Register of 3 Arts.
In a statement, HBO said the “new comedic origin story starring the unsung and underappreciated brains of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. gang, Velma Dinkley,” is voiced by executive producer Mindy Kaling. It called the series “an original and humorous spin that unmasks the complex and colorful past of one.”
Kaling told Meyers that when HBO announced in February that she was going to do the voice of Velma, “people were very supportive and happy on Twitter. And so I felt great.” But as soon as it was revealed that the Velma character “would be reimagined as South Asian.” Kaling said “people were not happy,” and expressed their displeasure for not portraying a classic Velma. “Those kinds of tweets. ‘Not the classic Velma that I’m always thinking about!’”
Although they were “just a small percentage of people,” who criticized her, she admitted she was surprised that Velma “elicited such strong reactions in either direction.”
The “Mindy Project” star joins a long list of actresses who have earlier lent her voice for the loved character, following Kate Micucci in several recent Scooby shows and “Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez in the 2020 movie “Scoob!”. Linda Cardellini played Velma in the 2002 and 2004 live-action movies, while Hayley Kiyoko played Velma in 2009’s “Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins” and “Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster.” Sarah Gilman also played Velma in the 2018 movie “Daphne & Velma.”
Kaling co-created and executive produced the Netflix series “Never Have I Ever,” which returned for the second season on July 15. The series centers on the complicated life of Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a modern-day first-generation Indian American teenage girl. She’s an overachieving high school sophomore with a short fuse that gets her into difficult situations.
She is also in production on her upcoming HBO Max/Warner Bros. TV comedy series “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” based on four roommates at Essex College, a prestigious New England university.