American actor Mindy Kaling responded to the backlash aimed at her upcoming Scooby-Doo spin-off series, Velma. While appearing on the American talk show Late Night with Seth Meyers, Kaling said that she was surprised that the news “elicited such strong reactions in either direction.”
In February, it was announced that the Never Have I Ever co-creator will be voicing Velma in a prequel about the popular character from the Scooby-Doo franchise. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the feedback was mostly positive until it was revealed that Velma will be reimagined as a South Asian woman.
Stating that people were not happy with this decision on social media, Mindy Kaling said, “There was a lot of, like, ‘So not Velma!’ Not the classic Velma that I’m always thinking about!’”
She went on to state that she did not know that the character was so popular and that people would react this strongly. “I just couldn’t understand how people couldn’t imagine a really smart, nerdy girl with terrible eyesight, and who loved to solve mysteries, could be Indian. Like, there are Indian nerds. It shouldn’t be a surprise to people,” she said.
The Mindy Project actor said that the criticism has made her think that they ought to be careful with the character.
An adult-focused comedy, Velma has been picked up by HBO Max. Kaling is also serving as the show’s executive producer. The show will focus on Velma’s origin story and will shed light on her complex past.
However, this is not the first time that Velma has been voiced by an actor who is not white. According to a report by Insider, actor Gina Rodriguez who lent her voice to the character in the 2020 film Scoob, is of Puerto Rican descent. Similarly, actor Hayley Kiyoko who is of Japanese ancestry voiced the character in Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins! and Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster.