What We Learned From Mindy Kaling & Kate Hudson at NYC’s POPSUGAR Play/Ground

By Elizabeth Roberts

Mindy Kaling and Kate Hudson are having the ultimate glow up year and POPSUGAR Play/Ground didn’t sleep on hearing their secrets to success. POPSUGAR’s inaugural wellness, lifestyle and empowerment convention, June 9-10, capitalized on what thankfully has become a growing trend: women owning their success and advocating for other women.PopSugar Playground_Six Degrees Society

Both actresses are juggling multiple projects, some of which are entirely new transitions. “The Mindy Project” ended but NBC picked up “Champions”, which Mindy produces, writes and acts in. She also shifted into movies, joining the badass female casts of A Wrinkle in Time” (Oprah, Reese Witherspoon) and “Ocean’s 8” (Sandra Bullock, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, etc.)


Kate Hudson’s Fabletics is continuing its upwards trajectory (i.e. hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue) and is currently working on Sia’s movie “Sister”. Kate said this may be her favorite role yet aside from when she played the iconic Penny Lane in “Almost Famous”. On top of their career success, Mindy just had her first baby and Kate has one on the way. Both actresses are known for their collaborations with other women and stepping away from Hollywood norms.


Mindy sat down with Elaine Welteroth, writer and former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, for a candid panel on how “Smart Girls Win” by embracing ambition.

Mindy Kaling_POPSUGAR

Photo by Katherine Roberts

  • Own your intelligence. “I found that being smart was the only thing going for me. I was largely ignored by boys my entire adolescence, being smart was my only choice to make my impression so I focused on my school work. No one was like, ‘She’s so beautiful her face could stop a clock.’”
  • Hollywood is listening to its viewers. “Before ‘The Office’, I saw literally no representation on TV unless you were going to have an accent and play an IT person. You start feeling helpless that this is the way it’s been and it’s never going to change. But now, tokens aren’t enough. You can’t have an all-male cast with one woman. And that woman doesn’t have to be a size zero.”
  • Your perspective can change (and that’s okay.) “’The Little Mermaid’ is a little problematic to me. I love the crab. Ursula is a cool sea witch. But Ariel left her family and friends in pursuit of a man and she’s 15-years-old. You don’t have to be mute to attract a man! Not all your enemies are older women who are threatened by your beauty! This is coming from someone who loves Disney, I’ve been in 3 Disney movies. But I’ll be teaching my daughter differently.”

    Photo by Katherine Roberts

  • “Having it all” doesn’t exist. “That concept is so exacerbated by social media. Some weeks are more fun than others (like being in the “Ocean’s 8” movie) but otherwise it [comes down to] FOMO and feeling you’re not doing it all. That’s the sickness of our time, it’s so fake.”
  • Your relationship to fear is adaptable. “I’m Indian but didn’t grow up learning any Indian languages. My “Ocean’s 8” character speaks Hindi for one long scene – and I was so scared of that. I felt like the people I care most about are young women and I didn’t want them to think I was fraudulent. I met with a dialect coach and I did it. I don’t think fear is my friend but it makes me prepared.”


Kate’s panel “Redefining The Pursuit Of Happiness” explored how happiness isn’t a quick-fix, it’s a personalized journey.

Photo by Katherine Roberts

  • Balance is in the eye of the beholder. “When you have kids, they’re the great barometer. You can see if you’re balancing correctly if your kids are in a solid place. I became a mom at 24 so I balanced kids with a professional life fairly early.”
  • Finding what makes you happy is a personal journey. “When you search for joy, it really is a search. It’s not something that just happens to you…ask yourself, ‘Where am I being the most authentic? Where do I feel the best?’”
  • Women aren’t naturally competitive. “We are programmed to be competitive. What happened in history (and Instagram) was a change in dynamics. You have to think, “Why do I not like her success [instead of achieving my own]?”
  • Transitioning from an actor to founder instills daily gratitude. “The reward is daily, it’s different. I have people come up to me every day with their Fabletics pants on. I like connecting with people so it’s something that puts us on the same level. What’s great about Fabletics is what it stands for and having messaging behind the company is something you’re proud of.”
  • Even celebrities have that, “Shouldn’t have drunk dialed my ex” moment. “There was one night in Ibiza…I woke up and I had FaceTimed 50 men from my past. It was like every man in my [phone] I had FaceTimed at 3 in the morning. One of them I had FaceTimed 15 times. Honestly, it was liberating, because I had never done anything like that before.”


Additional takeaway: The conference swag can make up the price of your admission ticket.

Before you write off a conference because it seems too expensive, know that conventions (especially ones targeted toward millennials) are full of free stuff. Look for brand activations that want to give you complimentary items in exchange for a 10-second elevator pitch about their product or a hashtag on Insta. Arriving early to the conference meant a complimentary S’well bottle ($35), a morning workout with Kayla Itsines (who even knows how expensive a personal training session with her would be!) and her trademark pink SWEAT yoga mat ($37). Hungry per usual after working out, I grabbed a free Berry Burst Chicken Salad ($7) from Wendy’s.


Victoria’s Secret advertised their fitness line (Victoria Sport) with a pink locker room pop-up that took you right back to gym class – except this time when opening an assigned locker, you’re greeted with a free tank, bra, leggings or socks ($10-$60). Kohl’s even had a “Wheel of Fortune”-esque activity to spin for Kohl’s Cash – my spin won $50 and went directly to my “furnishing new apartment” fund. All of this is in addition to the complimentary beauty tutorials, snack samples and boutique studio classes. Noting the crowd, I wouldn’t be surprised if POPSUGAR embarks on a second year of Play/Ground with more panels on embracing ambition and happiness, as well as, (let’s be honest here) lots of opportunities for free beauty and wellness products.


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