11/12/2013 at 10:30 AM EST
is enjoying success as a writer, producer and star of her own show The Mindy Project
, but the actress is also dealing with the heartbreak of losing her mother to pancreatic cancer last year.
"She was the love of my life," Kaling tells fellow TV writer and star Lena Dunham
, who spoke with Kaling for an interview with Rookie
for Rookie: Yearbook Two
, via RollingStone.com
"I would say that my mother is the single biggest role model in my life, but that term doesn't seem to encompass enough when I use it about her," she says. Kaling's show
got the green-light the day of her mother's death, an occurrence that gives Kaling a sense of spiritual harmony.
"It was like a gift from God or my mom," she told Parade magazine
in September. "I think she was giving me something so I didn't have to get crushed under the weight of my grief."
When Dunham asks Kaling what inspires her about other women, she says, "I love when women are courageous in the face of unthinkable circumstances, like my mother when she was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer."