US President Joe Biden honoured Indian-American actress-producer Mindy Kaling with the prestigious 2021 National Medal of Arts, one of the highest awards given to artists and arts patrons by the government.
Kaling, 43, also known as Vera Mindy Chokalingam, was awarded for advancing the arts in America in a ceremony attended by First Lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday.
“The first woman of colour to create, write, and star in a primetime sitcom, she empowers a new generation to tell their stories with their own irreverence and sincerity.A The daughter of Indian immigrants…” Biden said, presenting the award to the actress.
“We know about that, right? Our Vice President is a daughter of Indian immigrants — a mother who was a great scientist… And, Mindy, we know your mom is always with you in your spirit. We know that,” the President added.
“Imbued with humor and heart, Mindy Kaling’s work across television, film, and books inspires and delights — capturing and uplifting the experiences of women and girls across our nation,” a citation from National Medals of Arts read.
Kaling was born to an architect father and an obstetrician-gynecologist mother who moved to the US in 1979 from Nigeria.
She lent her acting talents to such film comedies as ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’ (2005), ‘License to Wed’ (2007), and ‘Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian’ (2009) and voiced characters for the animated movies ‘Despicable Me’ (2010), ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ (2012), and ‘Inside Out’ (2015).
She developed the innovative ‘The Mindy Project’, which centred on the life of Mindy Lahiri, an obstetrician-gynecologist who is fixated on finding a romantic partner.
Recently, she co-created and co-wrote the Netflix show ‘Never Have I Ever’, about a first-generation Indian-American teenager, and ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’, a comedy series that centres on four college roommates.
The National Medals of Arts was given to 12 other artists, which included artist-activist Judith Francisca Baca, philanthropist Fred Eychaner, Puerto Rican musician Jose Feliciano, Puerto Rican painter Antonio Martorell-Cardona and film producer Joan Shigekawa.
It was presented in conjunction with the National Humanities Medals, which was given to 12 distinguished writers, historians, educators, and activists.