Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project, Taraji P. Hensen, Empire


Everyone loves Cookie. Even Mindy Kaling. Maybe more than anyone.

The Mindy Project creator and star tells E! News that fans can expect some epic Empire references in tonight's season finale, because of course Mindy Lahiri would be "obsessed" with Taraji P. Henson's breakout character on the hip-hop drama.

"We were like, ‘Guys, Mindy Lahiri would be obsessed with Cookie. Like there's no world where we finish the season without her referencing her' and in the finale, we have some good Empire stuff," she says.

And Kaling gave fans a sneak peek at the goodies on Instagram, posing a small scene between Mindy and Danny (Chris Messina). "Mindy being Mindy with the help of Cookie Lyon," Kaling captioned the video, which finds Mindy putting Danny in his place Cookie-style when he tells her to be quiet. 

Mindy being Mindy with the help of Cookie Lyon. #themindyproject finale tomorrow, 9:30 on FOX @tarajiphenson

A video posted by Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) on

While Kaling is sometimes hesitant to reference a show on the same network, she explains that Empire is the exception to the rule.

"Sometimes we're like, if we reference another Fox show, will people be like, ‘Oh, it's just trying to promote within the network?'" she says. "But Empire is such a phenomenon, we were like, ‘OK, it's earned it now.' It's getting these insane Super Bowl numbers. No one's going to think it's weird."

But fans of The Mindy Project will know that a familiar Empire face has actually appeared on the show before: Jussie Smollett, the show's breakout star who plays Cookie's son Jamal, was in season one's Christmas episode! "He was the handsome boyfriend of Shauna the receptionist and he was like a man of few words," Kaling recalls with a laugh. "Obviously, we were like, 'Whoa, he's super hot!' But now he's a huge breakout star."


John P. Fleenor/FOX

Kaling hasn't seen Smollett in person since he appeared on the show in 2012, saying, "We haven't had a big Fox event since Upfronts. I'm not sure if it was just Taraji and Terrence [Howard] that I saw there, but I love that cast. They're all really cool, too, they're personally really cool. And I love the show, obviously."

And while we're hoping for an epic crossover episode between two of our TV obsessions (maybe Mindy can be Rhonda's ob-gyn?!), fans are still waiting to find out if Fox will renew Mindy for a fourth season. (Boo! Hiss!) But Kaling says she's "used to this feeling of not knowing and have always just been optimistic and cheerful, but, as everyone's come to realize, that's just my personality."

Uncertain future or not, Kaling and Co. are going out with a bang in tonight's finale. "This is a big cliffhanger. And I know that some series, they don't know when they're going to come back, so they on purpose make it so that it could wrap up the series very nicely," she says. "But that's just not my personality. I take big swings and big risks all the time, so this is a big cliffhanger."

Swing away, Kaling. Swing away.

The Mindy Project's finale airs tonight at 9:30 p.m. on Fox.

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