After receiving the Producers Guild of America (PGA) Norman Lear Achievement Award on Saturday night,
Presenting the award to Kaling, 43, was her “The Office” co-star and co-writer B.J. Novak, 43, who
reminisced on working with Kaling and praised her during a nearly eight-minute speech.
“The first thing I noticed about Mindy in that writers’ room is she cared so much about everything… her opinions were passionate and unstoppable, and she cared about all the issues of the day,” he said. “We were in love with each other, and we were reckless idiots, and the two of us would argue about all of these things forever grinding the writers room into a halt until we got too upset and we go to our respective offices and slammed the door where we would continue arguing over AOL and instant messenger. It was 2005.”
In her speech, the “Velma” executive producer and voice actor thanked Novak, whom she referred to as her “closest friend” who has seen “all the ups and downs” throughout her career.
“I am so lucky that my favorite writer is also my best friend. I love you,” she added.
Kaling also honored her immigrant parents in her speech, thanking them and dedicating her new award to her late mother.
“Like many of you here, I am the child of immigrants,” she told the cheering crowd, “and that, unexpectedly, became my secret weapon. My parents modeled a work ethic for me that later made the enormous challenge of launching a TV show seem doable.” She also noted how her parents supported her decision to enter show business.
Later on in her speech, the Indian American actor mentioned that around 12 years ago, she had to take a three-month break from filming “The Office” to be with her mother, who was becoming weak because of chemotherapy. Kaling shared that the only thing that made her mother feel better during that period was watching her favorite show, “Modern Family.”
Kaling then recalled how her late mother “did not have to think about how she was feeling or how much time she had left. She could just laugh, we could laugh together [while watching the episodes].”
The “Never Have I Ever” creator and executive producer understood at that moment “the power of what we do.”
“To take people away from their pain and their struggles just for a moment and enjoy it,” she explained.
Besides her parents, Kaling also thanked Daniels and Klein in her speech for serving as her mentors early on in her career.
“I owe it to my parents but also to luck. I won the lottery in mentors in Greg Daniels and Howard Klein, two executive producers of ‘The Office.’ I was 25 when they hired me as a staff writer, and I eventually worked my way up to executive producer.”
“It’s not like they were getting anything out of it. I wasn’t even one of their nieces or someone who could potentially become their second wives, and they took a chance on me anyway,” she jokingly added.
Kaling was first announced as a recipient of the award in November 2022 for breaking boundaries and pushing culture forward, PGA presidents Stephanie Allain and Donald De Line said in a joint statement.
She has also notably served as creator, executive producer and writer for TV series “The Sex Lives of College Girls” and “The Mindy Show,” among others.
Past honorees of the award include Shonda Rhimes, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Ryan Murphy, Jerry Bruckheimer and Lear himself.