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Mindy Kaling responds to backlash over playing Velma in 'Scooby-Doo' spinoff: 'There are Indian nerds'

·2 min read

Mindy Kaling says she's "surprised" that her upcoming role as a "reimagined" Velma in HBO Max's new "Scooby-Doo" spinoff has been met with backlash.

"The Office" alum, 42, is set to executive produce and star in "Velma," in which she'll play Mystery Inc.'s uber-intelligent Velma Dinkley.

"When it was announced (in February) that I was going to do the voice of Velma, people were very supportive and happy on Twitter," Kaling said during an appearance on NBC's "Late Night With Seth Meyers" Thursday. "So I felt great, because these are really intense fans – cartoon, comic-book fans."

But the spinoff will look a little different than the children's cartoon, Tom Ascheim, president of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults, and Classics, announced in June.

Unlike its predecessor, "Velma" is an adult animated comedy series that tells the origin story of the "unsung and underappreciated brains" of the mystery-solving gang. But this Velma, of South Asian descent, lives in a world with no talking Great Dane or a groovy Mystery Machine van.

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Mindy Kaling is hitting back at critics of her new role as Velma in HBO Max's "Scooby-Doo" spinoff.
Mindy Kaling is hitting back at critics of her new role as Velma in HBO Max's "Scooby-Doo" spinoff.

The backlash was swift, and "people were not happy," Kaling said Thursday.

"There was a lot of, 'So, not Velma?' Those kinds of tweets," she added. (For example, one user tweeted in June: "It's Velma, except she's Asian and there's no Mystery Inc. in other words, it's not Velma.")

Although 'people are like, 'No, no, no,'" Kaling said "it shouldn't be a surprise to people" that Velma could be of South Asian descent.

"She's such a great character, she's so smart and I just couldn't understand how people couldn't imagine a really smart, nerdy girl with terrible eyesight who loved to solve mysteries, could not be Indian," she said. "There are Indian nerds."

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Kaling admitted she was surprised that Velma "elicited such strong reactions in either direction," noting that 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.

This is not the first time Velma has been played by an actress of Asian descent. Hayley Kiyoko played the iconic brainiac in the 2009 live-action adaption, "Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins," and its 2010 sequel, "Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mindy Kaling reacts to critics over Velma role in 'Scooby-Doo' spinoff

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