1. What is one thing you think women in their twenties should experience? —emilya48a8f0fd8 via BuzzFeed
I went on a vacation with my mom and dad to Buenos Aires for 10 days and I always had a good relationship with my parents, but I wasn't one of those girls — you know those girls or guys, I'm always very jealous of them, who talk to their mom or dad once a day? Although I got along very well with my mom and dad, I was never like that. I don't know why we all decided to go on this trip just the three of us, but it was one of the most memorable trips I ever had and the reason I say you should do it in your twenties is that if you just got out of college and you haven't lived with them for a while, it really was the time when I started loving my parents as people and not as my mother and father. I got to spend a lot of time with them individually and it strengthened and really deepened my love for them in a way that I later really appreciated. Especially now that I don't have my mom around anymore. I felt like, Oh, I got to see what she was like as a woman. Not in a way where you're too young — you don't want to see that at all, you'd rather die — but in my twenties I was able to handle it and really appreciated it, so I recommend that.
2. I work in a male-dominated industry and they tend to have very little respect or appreciation for things like fashion. Women who wear jewelry or do their hair tend to be seen as frivolous. How would you combat this? —Emily Grace Keller via Facebook
I'm very sorry you work under those conditions where what clothing you wear defines what kind of person you are. I do think that in, like anything else, it's not an easy answer, but if you're just good it doesn't matter if you're wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants costume. I have noticed that if you want to wear lipstick it doesn't mean you can't have gone to college. Unfortunately the answer is hard work kind of excuses anything. I work with comedy writers who are much more sort of artsy and forgiving, but they're mostly guys who wear zip-up hoodies and when I come in wearing an outfit with makeup and did my hair, you get teased. But, at the same time, it's like, if you are just funny and good and are the first one in, last one to leave, it's unimpeachable. You can look however you want.
3. How do you flirt? Or get the courage to? —Michelle Landry via Facebook
I am not a great flirt. My way of flirting is just to pay extra attention to that person and be affectionate towards them in a way I could also back away from it and be like, "I'm affectionate to everyone" should they not like me. I'm very tactile, which is probably unprofessional and I don't want you to get fired from your job, but I will touch someone's arm if I like them. But, again, I don't know how professional that is. I take zero responsibility. I can't get into a lawsuit today. I want to leave BuzzFeed without getting into a lawsuit.
4. Everywhere I look there's another article telling me how to be "the cool girl." Do you think the cool girl really exists? And how do you stop trying to compare yourself to this ideal and just feel comfortable with yourself? —Emily Sutherland via Facebook
I have never been the cool girl. I never had a boyfriend in high school — I barely had one in college — I don't like sports, and I can't speak knowledgeably about beer, so I'm flattered that you asked me. I'm assuming you asked me because you thought I seemed like a confident person who had some trappings of cool, so my answer to that is that I have just focused on the things I am good at and not focused as much on being cool — although like any other human I'm fixated on cool — and just hoped that other people assumed I was. I bet if you asked anybody you thought was cool if they were actually cool they'd be like, "Oh, I'm not cool, I'm just faking it." Even the really, really cool people. That's my advice: Try to ignore it.
5. As a young writer I often find myself bowing to other people’s idea of funny. How do you ensure that your writing remains true to yourself? —mariahannel via BuzzFeed
What a good question. I feel like a lot of writers have that problem. And I know that I have. I was on The Office but that sort of happened to perfectly match my tone and my sensibility. And I hear all the time of truly funny people who are just matched on a show that they are not good at. I don't think this [commenter] is a TV writer, but the same principle applies. Like anything else, comedy is such a broad thing. And there's so many ways to be successful and be on a comedy show. The movie Ted is so different than the movie The Apartment, but they are both considered big comedies and I watch both of them and I understand why.
I think it's like in sports; there's basketball and lacrosse and football — there are lots of different ways to make money. And I think comedy is the same way, you can make your living being a touring stand-up on the road, or working on Chelsea Handler's show or a Chuck Lorre show. I think it's finding your group and spending time to find your group before you get discouraged.
6. Do you ever freak out about being single? If you do, how do you snap out of it? —Camille Logan via Facebook
The answer is yes. It's funny, I used to freak out about being single much more in my twenties. I've noticed that the more professional success I have, or the more happy I am professionally, the less I worry about that because I have a great deal of professional confidence. I've noticed whenever I've felt the most boy crazy or when I wanted to get married it was when I was not so happy professionally. I have this thing and it'll happen like five times a year on a Sunday night, the feeling like, Oh, a family would be great. Not even being in a relationship — but a family because I'm 35.
I think what snaps me out of it is just the fact that I love being by myself. I think that if I was in the wrong relationship, which I have been in several, that would be so much worse than the feeling of autonomy I feel right now. It's hard when I give advice because I'm a naturally cheerful person. Terrible things have happened to me and whether it is the way that I was raised or am built, I am able to get through it somehow. I'm not a tortured artist, so that helps me as well, which is something I can't teach unfortunately.
7. I am a woman of mixed ethnicity on a career path dominated by white men. I want to be seen as an equal without sacrificing or tokenizing my own identity. How do neutralize the idea that you got special treatment? —Madison Ruth via Facebook
Madison, I hear what you are saying and feel that I face that all the time. But I think that is just something you cannot be concerned with. It's not going to be a good use of your time.
8. I was a confident little girl who fell victim to a world that told me that I shouldn't feel so strongly about myself or my beliefs. Do you have any advice on how to get that back? —Claire Burdick via Facebook
So here's the deal with confidence. I used to have no confidence, then I had a great deal of false confidence, and now I'm infused with real confidence. When people get the confidence knocked out of them, I feel like it was probably false confidence because you can't, I don't think, get it knocked out of you when you are truly confident. I think you have to be able to have everything taken away from you and be sitting in a ditch and know you could build it up from scratch. That's how I feel and that's how I know it's true confidence.
Now, one thing I will say about women is that confidence tends to offend people a lot when you truly have it. You have to be really careful about that. So what I've noticed is, while I want to encourage women to be very confident, I think you can be quietly confident. If you're just like, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" around everyone, that's very unbecoming. Quiet confidence is the thing we need to be telling girls about, not shout-it-from-the-rooftops confidence, and that's how I think you can really succeed.
9. Do you have any advice for pairing two kinds of prints together? —amr28 via BuzzFeed
I love this question. I happen to be wearing two different prints right now! Matching prints is something that Sal Perez, my designer for my show, is the king of. His rule of thumb for matching prints is that prints should be different sizes and they should have, usually, at least two colors that are in common — or minimum one color. Like you shouldn't do a tiny polka dot with a gingham, but you should do a bigger print matched with a smaller print. And I think that when you do a lot of prints, Sal likes to do a simpler cut on each thing. So it's not like ruffles and prints and something else, unless you are going to a burlesque show.
10. My parents have been a huge part in making my decisions for the future. How do I tell them that their vision of my future is not the same as mine? —Lavanyap via BuzzFeed
I'm going to say if your parents are good parents — and I'm going to choose to believe they are — that they just want you to be happy and safe. I went into a very unconventional field. My dad was an architect, my mom was a surgeon, and they are very skeptical people, very fearful people. And I think one of the things that helped them was to show them, not tell them, that I was capable of doing things. And I started doing that when I was in elementary school and high school when I would audition for plays. In college I would write plays and they would come see it. They could see that it wasn't just me telling them, "I can do this, let me do this." They built confidence while I was building confidence. That way I never had to be like, "I'm going to do this, let me do this. " They kind of just had to be like, "Well, she's been doing this this whole time and she's had success." Like anything else, it's show, don't tell. And if you feel like you need to tell your parents, "It's in me, I just can't show it" then maybe you need to just show it for a while, and then come back to them and say, "See?!?"
11. How do I find my own, real-life Danny Castellano (Chris Messina on The Mindy Project) when I uncomfortably laugh/snort in awkward/all situations? —Kylie Hall via Facebook
Oh man. The one thing on my show I worry about is that Danny Castellano is such an amazing character. Chris Messina is such a wonderful actor, the character is truly one of my favorite TV characters of all time — and I feel like I can say that because my writing staff and what Chris brings to it are outside of me a lot, so I can't take complete credit for him and I think he's so great. I don't know. There must be guys who have shades of that. I pulled a lot of the character, at least my inspiration comes from my friend B.J. [Novak]. He has some traits that are a little bit like [Danny]. But I think he's a rare, interesting, wonderful guy. It's a testament to Chris because the character is so hypermasculine, but he can still jump under a desk and put on a helmet because he's scared of earthquakes, and then he could come back from that and you'll be like, "I still want to have sex with you." It's crazy, I don't understand. That's just Chris I think.
12. How should I ask my crush for his number? —ellam4c15dc9e4 via BuzzFeed
So, if you are going to ask your crush for their phone number, you are one of the small group of women I am so jealous of. I am so fearful. As much as I'm supposed to be like, bold and confident and cool and this, like, audacious woman of color or anything else that's been said about me, I think nothing is scarier in this world — and I've done some scary things in my life — than asking a guy for his phone number. So much so that I would probably lie and be like, "Uhh, in case I need to tell someone about some medical condition, can I have your number?" Like, I'd just lie. Or I'd ask my assistant to do it for me. So ask your assistant to do it for you. Have your best friend pretend to be your assistant and then say, "If I have any follow-up questions I'm just going to have my assistant get in touch with you." And he'll be like, "Why do you have an assistant?" If you are a 16-year-old get your 15-year-old friend as your assistant. People will think you're very sophisticated.
13. How do you think media can include more people of color? Is it enough just to cast nonwhite actors and to hire more nonwhite writers or is there a bigger discussion about race and representation? —Maddie Smith via Facebook
As much as I love discussions of things, knowing the pace of TV, I do just think it's just hiring more people of color or having diverse staffs and just seeing how that works. When Shonda [Rhimes] does shows or hires a writing staff, she just does it. She hires people and then I don't think the parts necessarily call for someone to be a certain race, and if they are, it just happens. The way that TV looks now is different than even 10 years ago when I started on The Office, so I think that's kind of a simple answer. People in charge just need to do better.
14. How do I force my brain to prioritize hot, available men over pizza and more pizza? —Kareem Yasin via Facebook
Listen, I would spend my entire life sitting on my sofa, eating GrubHub takeout, and watching House of Cards. I completely understand. I'm helped by the fact that I'll have a panic attack after the sixth episode of the TV show I'm watching and realize I need to get there. So you just need to make sure that you have a finely honed panic mechanism that goes off. And for me, it's like if I stand up from my sofa and my body hurts from sitting too long or just seeing endless takeout containers in my trash. But I hear you, that's a very difficult choice.