Another discrimination story

Kaling, 40, discussed the incident in a profile in Elle magazine, which was published online overnight. She was the only woman and person of colour in the writers’ room when she was hired on the Office at the age of 24, and claimed that after the show was nominated for an Emmy, the Television Academy told her there were too many names on the producing team – and made her justify her spot on the list.

“They made me, not any of the other producers, fill out a whole form and write an essay about all my contributions as a writer and a producer,” she said. “I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself.”

That’s the claim.

Here’s the response:

In a statement to the LA Times, the Academy said that at the time “every performer producer and writer producer was asked to justify their producer credit,” claiming that “no one person was singled out.”

OK. The actual problem being that “too many” were claiming such producer spots. But there’s one more little interesting point:

“I *was* singled out. There were other Office writer-performer-producers who were NOT cut from the list. Just me. The most junior person, and woman of colour. Easiest to dismiss. Just sayin’.”

If there are too many isn’t it the most junior who is most likely to be cut? Or at least asked to justify?

That is, if there were no misogyny, no racism, we’d still see exactly the same person being asked to write the essay?

13 comments on “Another discrimination story

  1. ““This was like ten years ago. Maybe it wouldn’t happen now. But it happened to me.””

    Let’s see if it happens now, then we’ll (maybe) show concern…

  2. It’s an interesting story. Back many eons ago (during the disastrous Blair/ Brown regime) I worked at a multiracial workplace, where probably 10 – 15% of the workforce were Black, mainly from West Africa or The West Indies. Interestingly one of my most vivid memories was of one 6 foot 8 guy from Ghana needing five men to restrain him when he happened to see a Nigerian colleague out of uniform walking across to the office. After he had been calmed down I went over to speak to him and asked him what was the issue. Apparently the Nigerian had been one of the laziest, most bone idle employees who had ever set foot on the site (a view confirmed by every other employee of colour) and had deliberately asked younger black employees to ‘back up’ his depictions of the management as ‘institutionally racist’ (this was just after Macpherson) in order to support his case in a pending employment tribunal. Two of those employees were my Ghanaian colleagues younger twin brothers, so he was naturally horrified that they were being asked to lie to help this guy ‘play the race card’. As he pointed out, none of his colleagues (And this was a warehouse so hardly a PC hotbed) were racist – he was well paid and treated very fairly by the management and was damned if one idle bastard would ‘f£$% it up’ for everyone else. Sadly the media tends only to be interested in the ‘idle bastards’ who are playing that race card rather than the vast majority of people who find their behaviour utterly contemptible. It’s an experience that as a young, impressionable graduate had a profound impact on me. I have always tried to treat people as individuals as a result, regardless of skin colour. That’s an attitude I’d encourage anyone to take. Not one you’ll see encouraged in the Guardian, obviously….

  3. There is the issue that far too many people are being awarded some kind of Producer credit. Why purely writers on American TV shows are being awarded Producer credits in the first place is the question.
    Generally people on TV or major feature films can’t be awarded unearned established credits because the appropriate unions would kick up a fuss, but because there isn’t really a Producer’s union then such credits have increasingly been bestowed on all and sundry.
    “Executive Producer” credits used to be mostly reserved for someone who brought in finance or was the head of one of the producing companies. Now any actor with the clout demands one. “Associate Producer” now is often the financiers idiot nephew or some semi-crooked incompetent the production finally managed to pay off. As this became more widely known, such people now just want the plain Producer credit – devaluing it further.
    A real Producer is someone who does all or most of: originating, developing and guiding the project, pulling together finance and being in overall charge of the physical production.
    None of that relates to being a junior writer in a writers room on an established TV show.

  4. She was the only woman and person of colour in the writers’ room

    Her fellow writers:

    B.J Novak, Greg Daniels, Paul Lieberstein and Michael Schur

    I wonder why they wouldn’t have to justify their positions?

  5. Also, there is a useful canard in ordinary life: “Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence”.

    We really need a race card corollary: “Never ascribe to racism, that which can be adequately explained by almost anything else”

  6. Van_Patten,

    If I went into an office in London that was as white as The Guardian, I’d assume the boss was deliberately keeping the brown people out. It’s like the Klan in the context of London.

  7. Jonathan,

    B.J Novak, – twice nominated for WGA awards for episodes of The Office

    Paul Lieberstein – Emmy Award winner, wrote for The Office and King of the Hill

    Michael Schur – Two Emmy Awards, wrote for The Office, Parks and Recreation (which he created), King of the Hill and Saturday Night Live

    No, I agree with The Pedant-General. I can’t imagine why they would be more valued than the office junior.

  8. Jonathan – Jews are funny.

    Manjula, on the other hand, is scientifically proven to be 23% less entertaining than being kidnapped and waterboarded by Huw Edwards while he narrates his holiday slides from a rain-sodden caravan park in Wrexham.

    Every effnik female ‘comedian’ ever:

    “Did I mention that… I’M BROWN???!? XD XD XD LOL”

  9. Another discrimination story

    The Graun is about to do a hatchet job on the British armed forces and is looking for ammo…

    “Let’s all swamp the Grauniad site self identifying as BAME and all have positive stories of banging Aldershot slags, whores in Paderborn and generally being jack the lads.”

  10. professional comedy writers asked to fill out form?

    Come on Emmy’s lets see it, and ideally : “and the award for the funniest credit justification entry this year goes to da duh daa ……..”

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