Back in February, HBO Max announced it had greenlit an adult animated series that explored the iconic character’s origins. The streamer confirmed Kaling would not only executive produce the project, she would also voice the lead role. Although most fans were thrilled with the news, the criticism began pouring in after HBO Max revealed Velma would be reimagined as South Asian.
“When it was announced that I was going to do the voice of Velma, people were very supportive and happy on Twitter,” Kaling said during her Thursday appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “So I felt great because these are really intense fans—cartoon, comic book fans. And especially [for] a legacy show like this.
Kaling continued: “People were not happy. There was a lot of, ‘So, not Velma?’ Those kind of tweets. ‘Not the classic Velma that I’m always thinking about?’”
Kaling said the objections were expressed by “a really small percentage of people,” but the intensity of the backlash came as a shock.
“First of all, I didn’t know that she elicited such strong reactions in either direction,” she said. “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. There are Indian nerds. It shouldn’t be a surprise to people, but people are like, ‘No, no, no.’”
She continued: “But it made me think, ‘OK, we’ve got to be really careful with this character,’ which we will be because we love her.”
You can hear Kaling’s full comments above.