Mindy Kaling’s commencement speech at her alma mater Dartmouth College talked about a little of everything on Sunday, from pancakes to Donald Trump to some very candid dating advice.
The Ocean’s 8 star gave an empowering speech that also delved into single motherhood and her fears when she brought her now-5-month-old daughter Katherine Swati home from the hospital.
“After my daughter was born in December, I remember bringing her home and being in my house with her for the first time and thinking, ‘Huh, according to movies and TV, this is traditionally the time when my mother and spouse are supposed to be here, sharing this experience with me,’” said Kaling, whose mom died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.
“And I looked around and I had neither. And for a moment it was kind of scary, like, ‘Can I do this by myself?’ ” she said. “But then that feeling went away because the reality is, I’m not doing it by myself. I’m surrounded by family and friends who love and support me.”
The Mindy Project creator also had some life advice for the Dartmouth Class of 2018, advice particularly fitting in a post-#MeToo world.
“This one is just for guys: When you go on dates, act as if every woman you’re talking to is a reporter for an online publication that you are scared of,” she said. “One shouldn’t need the threat of public exposure and scorn to treat women well; but if that’s what it’s gonna take, fine. Date like everyone’s watching, because we are.”
Mindy Kaling graduated from the Ivy League school in 2001, going on to play Kelly Kapoor on The Office and creating, writing, and staring in The Mindy Project. Her experiences at Dartmouth have sometimes served as inspiration for her comedy over the years and were referenced in her best-selling memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
Her advice to the graduating class on self-confidence could be useful to anyone at any age.
“I was not someone who should have the life I have now, and yet I do,” Kaling said. “I was sitting in the chair you are literally sitting in right now and I just whispered, “Why not me?” And I kept whispering it for seventeen years; and here I am, someone that this school deemed worthy enough to speak to you at your Commencement. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, but especially not yourself. Go conquer the world. Just remember this: Why not you? You made it this far.”