Mindy Kaling faces backlash for voicing South Asian Velma in new 'Scooby Doo' series

The popular character has been reimagined as non-white, and some people aren't happy about it

Mindy Kaling attends the Vanity Fair Oscar party in Beverly Hills during the 92nd Academy Awards, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020.     REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
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When Mindy Kaling first announced in February she'd be voicing the titular character in HBO Max's animated Scooby-Doo spinoff, Velma, she got a largely positive reaction.

When it was revealed that Velma would be reimagined as South Asian, however, it didn't go down as well.

The new show is an adult animated comedy series, produced by Kaling, telling the origin story of Velma Dinkley, the somewhat underappreciated brains of the Mystery Inc gang, who has appeared in the Scooby-Doo series and movies since 1969.

HBO describes it as "an original and humorous spin that unmasks the complex and colourful past of one of America’s most beloved mystery solvers".

“When it was announced that I was going to do the voice of Velma, people were very supportive and happy on Twitter,” Kaling said on Late Night With Seth Meyers. “And so I felt great.”

That sentiment turned negative after it was announced the character would no longer be white. Kaling said "people were not happy" on social media.

“There was a lot of, like, ‘So not Velma!’ Those kind of tweets,” she said to Meyers. “‘Not the classic Velma that I’m always thinking about!'”

Watch the full clip of Kaling on 'Late Night With Seth Meyers' here:

Kaling admitted she didn't realise the character would elicit "such strong reactions in either direction".

"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."

Even if it was only "a small percentage of people" who had expressed distaste at the move, it gave Kaling pause for thought. “It really made me think, OK, we’ve got to be really careful with this character,” she said. “Which we will be because we really love her.”

While it's Velma who's made headlines, Kaling appeared on Meyers's show to promote another animated project: Disney+ series Monsters at Work, in which she voices the character of Val Little.

Updated: July 25, 2021, 11:42 AM