US President Joe Biden has presented the prestigious 2021 National Humanities Medals to Indian-American actress and producer Mindy Kaling, with several others, in recognition of her giving voice to a new generation of storytellers, at a White House ceremony.
The National Medal of Arts is the highest award, given to artists, arts patrons, and groups by the US government. It honours exemplary individuals and organisations that have advanced the arts in America and inspired others through their distinguished achievement, support, or patronage.
Presenting the award to the actress on Tuesday, at the ceremony attended by First Lady Dr Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the Second Gentlemen, Biden said that Kaling is the first woman of colour to create, write, and star in a primetime sitcom.
He added that the 43-year-old actress empowers a new generation to tell their stories with irreverence and sincerity.
The daughter of Indian immigrants -- we know about that, right? Our Vice President is a daughter of Indian immigrants -- a mother who was a great scientist," the US President said.
"Above all, she is hardworking and an adoring mom, just like her own mom was. And, Mindy, we know your mom is always with you in your spirit. We know that, Biden added.
Imbued with humour and heart, Mindy Kaling's work across television, film, and books inspires and delights, capturing and uplifting the experiences of women and girls across our nation, the citation of Kaling's award, read by a military aide later, said.
The award honours individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities and broadened citizens' engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects.
The 11 other distinguished medal recipients were Judith Francisca Baca, Fred Eychaner, Jose Feliciano, Gladys Knight, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Antonio Martorell-Cardona, Joan Shigekawa, Bruce Springsteen, Vera Wang, The Billie Holiday Theatre, and the International Association of Blacks in Dance.
Richard Blanco, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Walter Isaacson, Earl Lewis, Henrietta Mann, Ann Patchett, Bryan Stevenson, Amy Tan, Tara Westover, Colson Whitehead and Native America Calling were the recipients of the National Humanities Medal.