Why Not Me? Five times Mindy Kaling got real in new memoir

mindy kaling why not me

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling, via Crown Archetype, out now.

[I received this book from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review; this did not affect my opinion of the book whatsoever.]

Mindy Kaling has joined some sort of other-worldly ranks by writing a second memoir before she’s even, well, old, but it was the right decision to do so. Firstly, because her fans will devour it in a day, rabidly flipping through pages, giggling. Her first memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? came out in 2011 and continues to be a bestseller. Secondly, she is smart, funny and honest, which is enough of a reason to just put more good work out into the world. No comedian can go far without some cringes, but such are kept minimal in this collection of essays. Mindy is an extremely talented and successful woman in Hollywood who has a hit TV show (season 4 starts today, too!), The Office, parts in movies, now two books with a third coming in a couple years (an entire book with BJ Novak about their relationship?!) and more. But what I admire the most about her is how honest she is. I think she’s earned her success, and it’s refreshing to see someone write/speak so openly about what its given back to her, but also to be so honest about life stuff, when so many other famous people try to keep that part of their lives locked up. So here are five times in Why Not Me? Mindy got real about stuff.

1. On privilege itself. While working through her reasons for wanting to leave The Office, she defends herself from society’s questions. “I had a dream job – was I ungrateful to wonder what more there might be for me? Or complacent if I didn’t? … And who was I to try to seek anything better? … Why would I think I could be anything more than part of an ensemble of anything? These conflicting feelings about my job were illuminating – I was finally experiencing what they call ‘White People Problems.’ Or, maybe because of my socioeconomic background, this is more of a ‘First World Problem’? Or a ‘One Percenter’ issue? I can’t pinpoint which conflict of privilege I was experiencing, but you get it.”

2. On Hollywood beauty standards. When detailing how much work it is to look glamourous, and how ridiculous it is to make it seem mysterious, she jokes: “Now, usually, people privy to this kind of valuable information keep it to themselves, because an unspoken rule among actresses is: never tell any other woman the secrets of your beauty, even if she’s a ninety-five-year-old background actor playing a cadaver. ‘Today she’s a cadaver; tomorrow she’s a cadaver on a CBS drama trying to balance a love life and her demanding job as a district attorney,’ you think suspiciously.”

3. On meeting Barack Obama. Mindy wrote an entire essay (it was highly entertaining) about flirting with someone who works for President Barack Obama, but I’m convinced it was a wrap-around reason to flaunt just meeting Barack Obama. “That was a moment when I realized how cool my life is. I was trying to hit on a guy and was being interrupted by the president of the United States.”

4. On being famous but not famous-famous. Mindy lists the kinds of things she can’t do in public, now that people could recognize her. “Like every normal person, when I go to a flea market, I don’t want to be a chump who pays the asking price for anything. But recently, my friend B.J. Novak pointed out that loudly bargaining in public is unbecoming for actresses with their own TV shows.”

5. On how everyone talks about her body image. “Young women often approach me and excitedly tell me how much they appreciate the way I look. They like that I am not a skinny twig, because it shows that I refuse to change who I am and makes them feel like they don’t have to either. I really love that. But what they don’t know is that I’m a big fat fraud. I’m completely not at peace with how I look.”

And these are just some moments. Readers will be satisfied with how much Mindy shares – there’s an essay on her connection with BJ Novak that’s really sweet, a photographic account of a day in her life (in which she models a pregnancy suit for The Mindy Project), a list of the kinds of traits she wants in a boyfriend and all the things she worries about at 4 a.m.

Why Not Me? is a fast read, it’s quite short. You’ll be able to read essays like snippets, so you can either read it quickly or savour it for longer. It’ll leave you wanting more, but it will feel good. You’ll feel closer to Mindy and her slice of Hollywood. It basically reads like a narration of The Mindy Project. (She’s got a specific voice!) I enjoyed reading it and think you will too.

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