Mindy Kaling in Austin at the Teen Book Festival

On Saturday, October 1, comedian Mindy Kaling of hit TV series, The Office, and more recently “The Mindy Project” came as a speaker at the Texas Teen Book Festival at St. Edwards University.  Kaling discussed her comedic memoirs with Sarah Pitre of Alamo Drafthouse and Forever YA Book Club.

Wearing a cute black sleevless top and skirt and hair loosly tossed to the side, Mindy looked radiant and relaxed and talked about her work related experiences as well as fond memories of growing up.

Vera Mindy Chokalingam, professionally known as Mindy Kaling, was born to Indian immigrant parents.  Her mom was a physician and dad an architect and they lived in Massachusettes where Mindy went to a private school school.  Her parents she said were strict wanted her to do well. She watched shows with them.  They took her to plays… she called them chatty and involved in her life.  She fondly remembered stories of when her dad taught her how to ride a bike and stood there with a big bottle of Gatorade while she circled the parking lot near her house.  Another time, Mindy talked about her mother going shopping with her for clothes and discussing every last detail.

The spacious conference center at St. Edwards was filled with enthusiastic students and fans of all ages.  This conversation had followed book signing in the pavilion outside on a bright and sunny morning.

Mindy also spoke fondly about her breakthrough into the world or theater.  Matt & Ben, a play written by Mindy and her best friend Brenda Withers played in off-off Broadway in theaters in 2003, was conceived when the two friends were trying to make things work in NYC and had found nothing remotely related to what they liked to do in the theater or cinema. 

In 2011, Mindy penned the comedic memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), which continues to be featured on New York Times’ and USA Today’s best-seller lists. The coming-of-age, teen-friendly memoir invites readers on a tour of Mindy’s life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood. Her 2015 follow-up, Why Not Me? turns from the insecurities of her youth to the even more profound concerns of being a single thirty-something. 

Mindy gave heart-felt advice to her listeners at St. Edwards University.  She said she was fortunate to have parents who wanted her to make it big in anyway she chose and were supportive and backed her up.  She in return was equally close to them and shared all her grievances and successes with them. 

This was sound advice for teens and me who have growing children who are not sure how much to share with parents.