Mindy Kaling says Into the Spider-Verse inspired her to make Velma character Indian

Mindy Kaling knew from the start that she would voice the titular character in Velma, the animated Scooby Doo origin story series, but she and showrunner Charlie Grandy (The Office, The Mindy Project) found inspiration for the character's look in a surprising place.

"We knew it would be fun for me to play Velma, but we had a conversation where Velma is white, and we have this new choice to do the show and if I'm voicing her, should she be white or should she not?" Kaling said when she and Grandy stopped by EW's New York Comic Con video suite on Thursday. "We were really inspired by Into the Spider-Verse — it's animation, we can do anything. The essence of Velma is not necessarily tied to her whiteness. And I identify so much as her character, and I think so many people do, so it's like, yeah, let's make her Indian in this series."

Mindy Kaling, Velma
Mindy Kaling, Velma

Arturo Holmes/FilmMagic; HBO Max Mindy Kaling as Velma

Once she and Grandy saw what a South Asian animated Velma looked like for their series, they knew they made the right decision. "It felt like it really kept the heart of the show," Kaling says.

Despite never having done animation before, Kaling was excited to bring a new layer of Velma's story to life in the new series. "I'm obviously a big fan of Scooby Doo, was raised watching almost every iteration of it, and I really loved the character of Velma," she says. "I said to Charlie, 'Would you have any interest in doing something that told her origin story?'"

And Grandy "instantly" said yes because he always wondered how the main Scooby Doo gang became friends in the first place. "As a fan, the one question I always had was how did these four people come together? These four very different people," Grandy says. "And then also every week, they solve a spooky mystery; every week, they almost die. It's like, why? What happened to them in high school that was so bad that this stuff rolls off their chest? How are they able to keep going back? Clearly they've gone through worse stuff."

Kaling explains that between shows like Veronica Mars and Riverdale, there's so much history of young teens "dealing with murders and crimes," and Velma felt like the perfect character "to handle a scarier environment."

Check out the video above now to watch the full interview where Kaling and Grandy discuss how the show will explore the origins of "jinkies," how Shaggy gets his nickname, Scooby Doo easter eggs, the "star-studded" voice cast, and more.

The 10-episode first season will debut on HBO Max in 2023.

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