The surge of origin stories and stand-alone character spotlight pieces are permitting studios to view old characters through new lenses. HBO Max announced that actress-comedian Mindy Kaling would be playing Velma, the beloved member of the Scooby-Doo Scooby Gang, in an origin story of her own. Fans weren't pleased about the choice of actress, and Kaling spoke up.
Jinkies! The internet is unceasingly unsatisfied and inevitably sparked debate over the Velma series. President of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults, and Classics Tom Ascheim gave a keynote address about the upcoming animated original where he shared the first details about Kaling's Velma. "Not for children, but we have a Mindy Kaling project called Velma because she was excited to re-imagine what Scooby-Doo would be like if Velma were of East Asian descent and lived in a different world," he said.
Kaling spoke on the public's response to her Velma cartoon when promoted the project on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “When it was announced that I was going to do the voice of Velma, people were very supportive and happy on Twitter,” Kaling shared with the host. “So I felt great because these are really intense fans—cartoon, comic book fans. And especially [for] a legacy show like this… 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?’”
The actress added to her response to the mixed responses that spawned from Twitter. “First of all, I didn’t know that she elicited such strong reactions in either direction,” she added. “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.’ But it made me think, ‘OK, we’ve got to be really careful with this character,’ which we will be because we love her.”
HBO Max remained firmly rooted in their support of Kaling's casting when acknowledging the comments made by those not in favor of the actress leading the series. “It is a tremendous privilege to build on the 100 year plus legacy of ‘cartoons’ at this company. We can draw a straight line from our hundreds of childhood hours spent watching Bugs outwit Elmer to the current slate of adult animated projects we are building here at HBO Max and we think fans will agree,” Executive Vice President of HBO Max Original Comedy and Adult Animation Suzanna Makkos wrote. “We are proud to introduce this distinctive group of series from a wide range of diverse creators that will form a first stop destination for animation lovers everywhere.”
WarnerMedia describes Velma in their official press statement: “Velma is an adult animated comedy series telling the origin story of Velma Dinkley, the unsung and underappreciated brains of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. gang. An original and humorous spin that unmasks the complex and colorful past of one of America’s most beloved mystery solvers, executive producer Mindy Kaling will voice the titular character. Charlie Grandy, Howard Klein, and Sam Register also serve as executive producers. Velma is produced by Warner Bros. Animation.”
Alongside Velma, HBO Max is to expand their animated library with titles such as Clone High, Gremlins, Fired on Mars, and the renewed Harley Quinn cartoon.