Mindy Kaling has finally spoken up about the backlash she faced when it was announced she would be playing super sleuth Velma Dinkley in the spin-off of ‘Scooby-Doo’, saying that the whole brouhaha caught her by surprise.
Kaling will play a “reimagined” Velma in HBO Max’s series, but the announcement was met with mixed reviews with several objecting to an ‘Indian’ playing the character. Kaling is an American by birth with Indian ancestry.
“When it was announced (in February) that I was going to do the voice of Velma, people were very supportive and happy on Twitter. So I felt great because these are really intense fans — cartoon, comic-book fans,” Kaling said during an appearance on NBC’s ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’.
However, in June, it was revealed the spin-off would be an adult animated comedy series, serving as an origin story to the gang of super sleuths, minus a talking Scooby Doo, along with Kaling’s Velma being of South Asian descent.
Soon after the announcement, backlash on social media was swift and brutal. Speaking about it with Meyers, Kaling said everything was going fine until the internet decided to meddle.
“There were a lot of ‘so not Velma’ tweets,” ‘The Office’ alum said. “Like, those kind 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 continued. “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.”
Kaling went on to say that thankfully only “a small percentage of people” reacted 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.
Meanwhile, Kaling is happy receiving accolades for season two of her Netflix production, ‘Never Have I Ever’, which stars Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as a high school student of Indian descent who is caught in a love triangle, while also dealing with the death of her father.