The word "cringe" does not begin to describe the latest in the unfortunate racially and sexually charged conversation around the über-talented and gorgeous comedian Mindy Kaling.
En route to Vanity Fair's Oscar party on Sunday night, Mindy Kaling was asked, innocently enough, by E! red carpet reporter Alicia Quarles what her "type" was. Kaling shot back, "Uh, good looking."
But Quarles, unsatisfied with the answer, pressed on, "So, any color?" And Kaling, like the class act she is, brushed it off with a giggle. Quarles relented and suggested, "Girl, kiss a black man on the show," to which Kaling jokingly responded, "Oh I have … and I will."
The interviewer could have inquired into, say, what it's like to write, direct, produce and star in her own show, or perhaps something related to the reason they were all there: the Oscars. But no, yet again, the The Mindy Project star had to deal with a question that highlighted her status as a woman of color.
Just this January, Kaling's Elle cover sparked a flurry of criticism after editors decided to crop the actress's body out of the frame, rendering her face in black and white. The media maelstrom was so strong, she took to Twitter to respond:
I love my @ELLEmagazine cover. It made me feel glamorous & cool. And if anyone wants to see more of my body, go on thirteen dates with me.— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) January 7, 2014
Was the denunciation warranted? As Elle Editor-in-Chief Robbie Myers points out, the magazine has depicted Jodie Foster, Rita Ora, Shakira, Elle Fanning, Lady Gaga and Carrie Underwood in the same fashion and no one raised an eyebrow.
Kaling is clearly quite conscious of the fact that her gender, skin tone and dress size often dictate press coverage. In a Rolling Stone interview with Lena Dunham, Kaling noted that people can't seem to stop talking about her shape.
"More than half the questions I am asked are about the politics of the way I look," Kaling told Dunham. "What it feels like to be not skinny/dark-skinned/a minority/not conventionally pretty/female/etc. It's not very interesting to me, but I know it's interesting to people reading an interview."
Still, Kaling said she can't help but be jealous of entertainers who don't have to spend so much time fielding superficial questions:
Sometimes I get jealous of white male showrunners when 90% of their questions are about characters, story structure, creative inspiration, or, hell, even the business of getting a show on the air. Because as a result the interview of me reads like I'm interested only in talking about my outward appearance and the politics of being a minority and how I fit into Hollywood, blah blah blah. I want to shout, 'Those were the only questions they asked!