As many of us sat around our homes in pajamas baking sourdough early in the pandemic, Mindy Kaling was hard at work on two very different things.
She had a baby and got the second season of her show, “Never Have I Ever," ready to go into production.
“I feel like I’ve birthed two big things this year — my show and my kid,” she laughed to TODAY in an interview earlier this month. “I’m proud of what I’ve done wearing a ratty shirt and sweatpants I’ve had since college.”
Kaling’s second child, a son named Spencer, arrived on Sept. 3. She managed to keep her entire pregnancy a secret from the world until finally announcing her latest addition in a late-night talk show interview a month after his birth.
“Spencer is happy and healthy and his sister is obsessed with him (well, his toys),” she wrote later in an Instagram post. “It’s been so fun having him in the house, I almost forget I’m outnumbered now.”
Kaling, 41, is also mother to 2-year-old Katherine, aka Kit.
Kaling’s show, “Never Have I Ever,” started shooting season two this month, but she told TODAY she’s not nervous about going back to work in a pandemic.
“Once you’re a single mom who’s had a baby during a pandemic, things doesn’t seem as daunting,” she chuckled, adding she’ll have to pump every two hours and look for a refrigerator somewhere on the studio lot. “Now, I just feel like it’s really easy.”
“Never Have I Ever” tells the story of high school sophomore Devi Wiskwakumar who is dealing with the aftermath of her father’s death and the general crisis that is high school.
As her cast and crew returned to work with several awards for their Netflix show under their belts, she added this project holds a special place in her heart.
“…The difference with something like this was that the reaction was just more than ‘I thought that show was funny.’ It was, ‘I feel seen, I could watch that show with my family’ and they felt like they were being represented for the first time,” she said. “It’s nice to normalize that for people of color, particularly for Asian women.”
She explained that the reputation for Asian women is that “we’re supposed to be so sweet and demure,” but her show undermines that stereotype.
Kaling is also working on another Hollywood juggernaut — she’s co-writing “Legally Blonde 3” with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” creator Dan Goor.
Reese Witherspoon has also signed on to revisit her iconic character from the film, Elle Woods.
“Seeing this character that’s now in her 40s is fascinating,” Kaling said. “Like how did that character evolve? What is it like when that character is older and married?”
“It’s really cool to see what she’s like,” she said, adding it’s a comedy that stood the test of time.
“One of the reasons it’s so popular is that 13-year-old girls can watch it with their moms,” she said.
And while her own daughter might be a ways off from watching “Legally Blonde,” they still get to spend time together for meals, even though Kit is “the absolute world’s pickiest eater,” Kaling laughed.
She added that her daughter will eat pasta — especially those dishes from meal kit delivery service Hello Fresh, which Kaling is currently promoting.
“The great thing about this is as a single mom, I have a household of my nanny and my dad and what’s great is that I can’t eat an entire pan of rigatoni or something,” she chuckled.