Mindy Kaling is not Malala: 15 celebrities of color mistaken for people they look nothing like


Mindy Kaling is an American comedian, actress and writer with her own Fox sitcom The Mindy Project. She is 35 years old. Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani women’s rights and human rights activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban, survived and became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She is 17. Yet, apparently Kaling was mistaken for Malala at a New Yorker Festival after party in New York City’s Boom Boom Room. The New York Times revealed that  “a tipsy man in his 80s came up to Kaling and gushed: “Congratulations on your Nobel Prize.” I mean, the two look nothing alike, have an age gap by nearly 20 years and one of them wears a head scarf. But at the end of the day, they are both brown so easy mistake. Sadly, this is hardly the only time people of color who look nothing alike are mistaken for each other. Let’s take a look at eight other times people were unable to tell the difference between celebrities who have nothing in common besides their ethnicity (that we know of).

1. Samuel L. Jackson and Laurence Fishburne: during an interview back in February, KTLA entertainment reporter asked Samuel L. Jackson about his Super Bowl commercial. It may have been a good question… if it had been posed to the person who had actually starred in said commercial, Laurence Fishburne. Jackson unloaded on the reporter in an epic rant that turned into a viral video:

“Oh hell no… There’s more than one black guy doing commercials. I’m the ‘What’s in your wallet?’ black guy. [Fishburne’s] the car black guy. Morgan Freeman is the other credit card black guy. You only hear his voice though, so you probably won’t confuse him with Laurence Fishburne.”

2. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer: E! confused actresses Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer when they wrote Viola Davis in lower thirds under footage of Spencer, during its “E! Live From the Red Carpet” pre-Oscar special in 2013.

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3. Sherri Shepherd and  Octavia Spencer: speaking of Spencer, she and former The View co-host Sherri Shepherd get confused so frequently, Octavia tweeted “Dear Hollywood: Sherri Shepherd And Octavia Spencer Are Not The Same Person but we are dear friends, LOL.”

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4. Morgan Freeman and Bill Russell: while covering President Obama’s 2013 inauguration, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News thought he spotted actor Morgan Freeman in the crowd. Close. But it was actually NBA legend Bill Russell. Whatever. Close enough.

5. Seal and Michael Clarke Duncan: when Michael Clarke Duncan, the actor of Green Mile fame, died in 2012, US TV station WGRZ showed photos of the singer Seal. I mean, in all fairness, it’s not like Seal has any distinguishing marks. Except for those scars on his face and scalp, which people love to attribute to a tribal ritual but are actually due to a disease called discoid lupus erythematosus.

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6. Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek: when the official Instagram account for the Academy Awards posted a photo of Penelope Cruz and Robert De Niro backstage, they did what any responsible social media presence would do: wrote “Hayek and De Niro prepping backstage #Oscars.” At least they got the hashtag right. Of course Cruz is Spanish, not even Latina, not that anyone knows the difference anyway and Hayek is Mexican (and of Mexican and Lebanese heritage). But they both speak Spanish. So, there you go.


7. Alfre Woodard and Idris Elba: if I were Armani’s social media team, I would definitely show off on Instagram how good actress Alfre Woodard looked in an Armani dress. But I probably would have labeled it “Alfre Woodard posing in a gorgeous Giorgio @armani dress at the 5th Annual Governors Awards,” instead of say, “Idris Elba posing in a gorgeous Giorgio @armani dress at the 5th Annual Governors Awards,” which they did. Now, don’t get me wrong. British actor Idris Elba is stunning. But he’s a dude. And he happens to look nothing like Woodard.

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