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5 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Mindy Project’ Star Mindy Kaling

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Mindy Kaling has been Hollywood's next big thing for a while. Now, with her new sitcom set to premiere, 2012 might be the year when Kaling takes her fame to the next level.

The actress, best known for her role as Kelly Kapoor on "The Office," will star in "The Mindy Project," a show she created. In it, Kaling plays Mindy Lahiri, a young ob/gyn who has an obsession with romantic comedies.

So far, critics are into it. In his review, Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "I like this a lot." David Weigand of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Kaling is more 'real' than most TV sitcom stars, and that's a welcome asset." TV Guide said that by "blending edgy humor with impractical idealism, the series reinvigorates tired tropes to deliver familiar stories in a modern way."

In other words, it has the makings of a hit, and Kaling is the star of the show. Here are five facts that you may not know about the 33-year-old actress, writer, and producer.

Mindy isn't her real name.

Kaling was born Vera Chokalingam. That, in and of itself, isn't particularly interesting. After all, celebrities change their names all the time. What is intriguing is how she ended up being called Mindy. In an interview from several years ago, Kaling said, "When my mom was pregnant, my parents were living in Nigeria and wanted a cute American name, because they were moving here, and they knew Mindy from 'Mork & Mindy.'" Good thing she wasn't born a boy.

She wrote a play about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Not only did she write a play about the two buddies, but she starred as Ben Affleck. The play told the story of Matt and Ben stumbling into fame after the script for "Good Will Hunting" fell from the heavens. The play was a hit off Broadway and in Los Angeles.

"The Mindy Project" was turned down by NBC.

The Peacock Network, which aired Kaling's hit show "The Office," had the chance to take "The Mindy Project" but ultimately passed on the script. Enter Fox. Still, Kaling says she doesn't have any ill will toward NBC.

She's a big Marge Simpson fan.

Well, we assume so. After all, Kaling did dress up as the Simpson matriach for a Glamour photo shoot. Says Kaling, "Marge Simpson is the one who's really funny. Her character looks so crazy, but then she's supposed to be totally demure. I think [Simpsons creator] Matt Groening is a genius for giving her that hair."

She's funny in front of the camera, but she may be an even better writer.

Kaling wrote many of the best episodes of "The Office." Co-star (and fellow writer) B.J. Novak once told New York Magazine that "Mindy has long been considered the best writer on 'The Office,' and every actor on the show thinks she writes for them best. There is the extra little 'smile' that infuses her scripts, which is hard to quantify."

Watch a preview of "The Mindy Project":

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"The Mindy Project" debuts on Fox on Tuesday night at 9:30 PM.

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