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Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling Address Gender Bias

Actress Mindy Kaling arrives at the Fox Fall Eco-Casino Party at The Bungalow on September 9, 2013 in Santa Monica, California.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Lena Dunham interviewed Mindy Kaling for Rookie: Yearbook Two, and the interview covers what you’d expect those two to cover: showrunning, pop culture, moms, feminism, Nora Ephron, women’s magazines. They also both expressed their exasperation with institutionalized misogyny.

Dunham: Do you ever get embarrassed to point out gender bias? I always apologize and say something dumb and sassy like “Not to be the girl who cried misogyny, but no one would ever say that to Larry David!” Somehow I feel the need to point out that I know I’m doing it, and that I may sound humorless, and that I wish I could be free and easy like Cameron Diaz at a hockey game.

I totally understand this. I don’t get embarrassed, though – I get nervous. Because journalists don’t like to be told that their questions are sexist. Every so often I read insane things like, “Who is the next Lucille Ball?” and they list all these red-haired actresses. As though the essence of Lucille Ball’s talent was derived from the color of her hair.

More than half the questions I am asked are about the politics of the way I look. What it feels like to be not skinny/dark-skinned/a minority/not conventionally pretty/female/etc. It’s not very interesting to me, but I know it’s interesting to people reading an interview. Sometimes I get jealous of white male showrunners when 90 percent of their questions are about characters, story structure, creative inspiration, or, hell, even the business of getting a show on the air. Because as a result the interview of me reads like I’m interested only in talking about my outward appearance and the politics of being a minority and how I fit into Hollywood, blah blah blah. I want to shout, “Those were the only questions they asked!”

This is an important metaconversation, but we have one minor quibble: There is absolutely nothing free and easy about Cameron Diaz at a hockey game.

Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling Address Gender Bias