I am a woman. I am a person of color. I am black. These are only 3 aspects of my identity, but they are the most visible. If I am walking down the street, these are descriptors that someone might use to define me. Entertainment is often dictated by what we, as consumers, can see. This is true for visual media, but it’s also relevant to print entertainment. In recent years, there have been numerous movements to help make entertainment more diverse. Whether that be more people of color, more women in leading roles, or exploration outside of the gender binary.
As someone who society can (and has) classified as “other”, it’s great to see these conversation being started by both people in the mainstream and those who feel their voice isn’t being represented. I enjoy reading books and articles that are penned by or about people who I can relate to with some part of my identity. And it’s even more exciting to read about experiences that are completely new to me. If there’s some humor involved in either, it definitely can’t hurt. I’ve been a huge fan of Mindy Kaling for several years for the way that she tackles some of these topics of identity, both as a writer and as an individual. She’s funny. She calls things as she sees them. AND she’s unapologetic (most of the time). One of my favorite quotes of hers is from her answer to “Where do you get your confidence?” Her response?
“My parents raised me with the entitlement of a tall, white blond man.”
Me too Mindy. Touche.
A lot of people I know write her off because her material may feel superficial at times. But that’s the beauty in it. “The Mindy Project” is one of my favorite television comedies, because it’s not ABOUT race, or size, or promiscuity, or ambition, or gender roles, or religion. Kaling and her writers crafted a pretty basic story line, about a woman living in the world with other Americans (except for when she was in Haiti). It’s great because the show touches all of these topics, showing them through the lens of highly relateable characters who have real flaws. The show is really great, but I guess I should talk about her book now.
Why Not Me? is a fantastic satire about a lot of the things mentioned above. In this book she writes about beauty in Hollywood. She talks about being sort of famous, but maybe not SUPER famous. Chronicling the struggle that is working hard in Hollywood and what a day in her life really looks like. And every chapter is laced with wit, humor, and just a touch of reality. I got through this book pretty quickly, in just under 2 days. The people who rode the train with me into NYC heard me laugh out loud every couple of pages. If you’re embarrassed by that sort of stuff, this might be a book you need to read at home.
The best thing about Why Not Me? is she continues to tackle that question about confidence. She unpacks it based on who asks the question and what the intention behind it really is for her. I think that anything I could say about it might diminish what she says, but it’s definitely worth the read. It’s also great to see someone who is breaking out in mainstream entertainment unapologetically, but also genuinely.
She also gets bonus points for continually pointing out ways she is privileged within her identity. Kudos to Kaling’s understanding of intersectionality!
Until Next Time World…