‘I just couldn’t understand how people couldn’t imagine a really smart, nerdy girl with terrible eyesight and loved to solve mysteries could not be Indian’ said Kaling
Mindy Kaling has responded to a racist backlash over her role as Velma Dinkley in Scooby Doo’s new spin-off series about the character.
The 42-year-old actor is set to play a “reimagined” Velma in the HBO Max series. However, the response to the news prompted criticism from some fans who took objection to an “Indian” playing the part (Kaling is an American born to Indian parents).
During an appearance on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, Kaling revealed that “people were very supportive and happy on Twitter” when the role was first announced in February. “I felt great because these are really intense fans — cartoon, comic-book fans,” she said.
However, in June, it was announced that the project would be developed as an animated comedy series, disparaging comments about Kaling’s taking on the traditionally white role surfaced on social media.
“There were a lot of ‘so not Velma’ tweets,” the actor said. “Like, those kinds of tweets. ‘Not the classic Velma that I’m always thinking about!’ First of all, I didn’t know that she elicited such strong reactions, in either direction.”
“She’s such a great character, she’s so smart,” Kaling added. “And I just couldn’t understand how people couldn’t imagine a really smart, nerdy girl with terrible eyesight and loved to solve mysteries could not be Indian. Like, there are Indian nerds. It shouldn’t be a surprise to people.”
The Never Have I Ever creator added that only “a small percentage of people” responded to the news negatively.
“It made me think, ‘OK, we’ve got to be really careful with this character,’ which we will be because we love her and she’s going to have great adventures,” she said.
Kaling recently received strong reviews for the second part of of her coming of age series Never Have I Ever, which tells the story of Devi Vishwakumar, a first-generation Indian-American teenager who wants to improve her status at school.