Mindy Kaling was on the 37th floor of the Trump SoHo New York hotel, having her hair and makeup done. “There’s Champagne, quesadillas and water,” she said. “Make yourself at home.”
As part of The New Yorker Festival earlier this month, Ms. Kaling was scheduled to do a Q. and A. with Emily Nussbaum, the magazine’s television critic. But at the moment, Ms. Kaling was being a critic herself as “Pretty Woman” was showing on the living-room TV.
“The writing’s a little on the nose,” said the woman whose writing — including episodes of “The Office,” which she wrote in her 20s, and “The Mindy Project,” which she also produces and stars in — has been heavily inspired by romantic comedies like this.
The hair and makeup people straightened Ms. Kaling’s hair and applied eyeliner. And while her black Moschino dress already provided plenty of sparkle, thanks to a row of shiny metallic studs along the neck, Ms. Kaling wanted to glam it up further.
“I’m in a more-is-more mood,” she said, pulling out several hoop-shaped earrings and gold rings lent to her by a friend, the designer Jennifer Meyer. “Like if George Clooney died and I were Amal, this is what I would wear to the funeral.”
After a final look in the mirror, she grabbed her friend Jocelyn Leavitt and climbed into a waiting Escalade that took them to SIR Stage37, an event space on the West Side of Manhattan, where she was scheduled to speak at 10 p.m. “Is this like a converted belt factory or something?” she said as they approached a throng of young college types on the sidewalk.
“Look, Min, here’s all your fans,” Ms. Leavitt said.
“They’re here for Larry David,” Ms. Kaling said, referring to a speaker at the festival earlier that day.
But they weren’t. They screamed Ms. Kaling’s name as she stepped out, asking for autographs and selfies. After posing with several fans, she was escorted backstage, where Rhonda Sherman, the director of the festival, came over to say that Ms. Kaling’s appearance was sold out.
“Really?” Ms. Kaling said, repeatedly showing herself to be the kind of celebrity who still seems surprised by her own fame. “Wow. If I see a single empty seat, I’m totally walking out.”
That turned out to be unnecessary, as she made her way onstage to the rapturous applause of her fans, most of them young and female. “Welcome,” Ms. Nussbaum said, and the women began a conversation that touched on everything from Ms. Kaling’s Indian heritage to the role sex and romance play on her show.
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