Mindy Kaling Explains The Decision To Change Velma’s Race In HBO Max’s Scooby-Doo Spinoff

Velma Dinkley has really been popping as of late. Her position as an LGBTQ+ icon was finally cemented in a recently released Scooby-Doo movie, and the character is set to be the center of the HBO Max spinoff series Velma, which stars Mindy Kaling in the lead role. The show will change things up a bit, as the titular sleuth has been race bent -- a creative decision drew backlash that Kaling has since addressed it. Now, the Never Have I Ever creator has shed some light on her decision to alter the character's race for the production.

Everyone’s favorite bespectacled know-it-all has been white since the franchise began in the 1960s. But the adult-animated series will portray the character as South Asian, which mirrors Mindy Kaling’s own racial background. The Office alum addressed the change while at New York Comic-Con and explained to EW that there were a lot of discussions regarding Velma's race. She said:

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? 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.

The success of productions like Into the Spider-Verse have definitely opened the door for different takes on classic characters. And those revamped heroes, like Miles Morales’ Spider-Man, have become very popular. In short, this version of Velma is just one of multiple iterations of the braniac, like the one from Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! The decision to change her ethnic background should make things fresh though, based on the show's first trailer, her personality will definitely stay intact.

And Ms. Dinkley isn’t the only one who's going to look different in the animated series. Sam Richardson, Constance Wu, and Glenn Howerton will join Mindy Kaling on the adult-themed Scooby-Doo series. Richardson will play an African-American version of resident goofball Norville "Shaggy" Rogers, while Wu takes on the fashion-savvy Daphne, who will be portrayed as Asian. Howerton, meanwhile will play Mystery Inc. leader Fred, who will still be white.

The adult-animated series will cover Velma’s life before she and the gang became teenage supersleuths and will do so with a humorous and complicated spin. All in all, it'll be exciting to see what Mindy Kaling has planned for this new interpretation of the beloved heroine and her friends.

Velma’s 10-episode first season will premiere in 2023, so make sure you have an HBO Max subscription by then if you want to check it out. Those in need of something to watch right now can check out CinemaBlend’s 2022 TV schedule. And if you specifically have a passion for the iconic Hanna-Barbera-birthed franchise, watch the first two live-action Scooby-Doo films using a Netflix subscription.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).