Mindy Kaling has addressed the controversy surrounding Velma, her upcoming Scooby-Doo reboot that reimagines Velma Dinkley as a South Asian mystery solver. In addition to executive producing the series with Charlie Grandy, Howard Klein, and Sam Register, Kaling will voice the new Velma. The fan response was largely positive to Kaling's casting, though there were some Scooby-Doo fans crying foul over the character's reimagined ethnicity.
This week on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Mindy Kaling appeared as a special guest to help promote the release of Monsters at Work on Disney+. As it's well known that Kaling is developing Velma, Myers asked her about the project. Kaling then opened up about the reactions she saw from people on both sides of the spectrum when the news became public that her version of Velma Dinkley would be South Asian.
"When it was announced that I was going to do the voice of Velma, people were very supportive and happy on Twitter. So, I felt great, because these are really intense fans, you know? And especially [for] a legacy show like this. So it's like, 'Oh, this is great!' Then, it was announced about a month ago that the Velma character would be reimagined as South Asian. And people were not happy. There was a lot of, like, 'So not Velma!' Those kinds of tweets. 'Not the classic Velma that I'm always thinking about!' I just really didn't know that she elicited such strong reactions, in either direction."
Meyers jokes that Velma herself would feel "flattered" that people care so much about her, suggesting she's usually the forgotten Scooby-Doo character. This prompted Kaling to delve into the love she had for Velma, making it clear that she's taking the project seriously. She also questioned why some people have such a hard time accepting an Indian Velma, as nerds can certainly be Indian as well.
"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. Like, there are Indian nerds. It shouldn't be a surprise to people, but people are like, 'No, no, no.' By the way, this is a small percentage of people, but it really made me think, 'Okay, we've got to be really careful with this character.' Which we will be, because we love her, and we'll have great adventures."
Another source of controversy that wasn't addressed in the interview is that Velma will also be noticeably missing a key Scooby-Doo character. It was reported that this version of Velma solves mysteries with "no dog and no van," while examining the other four key characters "through a different lens." This suggests Scooby himself won't be present in the series, something that will have many fans asking when tuning in, "Scooby-Doo, where are you?"
While there's no release date yet set for Velma on HBO Max, fans can hear Kaling's voice in the new animated series Monsters at Work on Disney+. This news comes to us from Late Night with Seth Meyers.