If it seems like Mindy Kaling is everywhere—her successful show The Mindy Project, Twitter, Vogue, or the Jimmy Kimmel Show —she just turned up somewhere else: Harvard.
Today Kaling spoke alongside Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, at Harvard Law School’s 2014 Class Day. But this comedienne is no stranger to Cambridge—she’s from there!—or college campuses (Kaling graduated from Dartmouth in 2001). Big name-speakers are also no big deal to Harvard (celebs like Will Ferrell and Bono have delivered speeches of commencements past), but Harvard Law’s history of speakers hasn’t been as celeb-studded. And Kaling reiterated that she wasn't too busy doing something else (like a hair commercial)—as some assume from a celeb: "I would kill to do a shampoo commercial, so if anyone from L'Oreal is out there, Snapchat me!"
Personally, we were psyched Harvard picked Kaling, who said she was "obsessed with justice" to rep Hollywood. The “quadruple threat”—actor, writer, comedienne, and producer—admitted, "I am an unconventional choice—I don't know much about the law. I meet handsome men in cute and unusual ways on television." She also said: "You are all nerds. You are just the nerds who are going to make some serious bank."
But her speech turned more serious when Kaling referred to her own American-Indian family's journey. Her parents believed in inherent fairness—the idea that you could "aspire and succeed to levels that could not have happened anywhere else in the world." That success, she said, is dependent on people like the graduates in front of her—people who have the power to affect the lives of many. "You can do whatever you want now," she said. "This institution will follow you everywhere." (Then she joked, "If you murder someone, you’re the Harvard Law murderer.")
When it came time to give advice, Kaling told graduates that they didn't need any from her, "Celebrities give too much advice—and people listen to it too much! Most of us have no edication whatsoever. Actresses can become nutritionists, actors can become governors. Who should be giving advice? People like you. You're better educated and people are going to listen to what you say—whether you're good or evil." [Tweet this quote!]
She went on to say that this scared her—namely because "a lot of you look young" and "a few of you are probably evil." Those are just the odds.
Did you hear Kaling's speech? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine.