‘Master of None’ Aziz Ansari makes history

33-year-old becomes first Indian-American actor to land a lead comedy-acting Emmy nomination

India At Large staff

Aziz Ansari has made history as he has become the first Indian-American actor to land a lead comedy-acting Emmy nomination for his seriesMaster of None. Ansari is also just the fifth person of South Asian descent to be nominated in an acting category.

“I am very happy but it is a very specific accomplishment,” Ansari told USA Today after the nominations were announced on Thursday. Ansari, who is also nominated for writing and directing Master of None, co-created the Netflix comedy with Alan Yang.

The 33-year-old actor plays Dev, an actor trying to make it in New York. Master of None, which is up for best comedy, crystallised diversity challenges in Hollywood in the show’s fourth episode, titled Indians on TV.

“I think every minority actor runs into that. You hear people say things like, ‘Oh, they already got the black guy.’ Or, ‘Oh, they already got their Asian lady.’ It kind of feels like, to minority actors that I’ve spoken with, once they have one (minority actor cast) they’re like, OK, we’ve placated the ‘diversity issue.’ That was coming from a real place,” Ansari said.

Casual racism has also been also addressed in the show.

“If you’re a minority, you’re experiencing all sorts of casual racism all the time. And at a certain point, you just get numb to a lot of it, and you’re like, whatever.” Ansari said he he and Yang are currently busy writing season 2 of Master of None, which will debut on Netflix next.

Ansari was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to a Tamil Muslim family from Tamil Nadu. His mother, Fatima, works in a medical office, and his father, Shoukath, is a gastroenterologist. Ansari grew up in Bennettsville, South Carolina, where he attended Marlboro Academy as well as the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. He graduated from the New York University Stern School of Business with a major in marketing.

Besides Dev Shah in Master of None, Ansari is known for his roles as Tom Haverford on the NBC series Parks and Recreation (2009–2015).

Ansari began his career performing stand-up comedy in New York City during the summer of 2000 while attending New York University. In 2007, he created and starred in the MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant, which ran for two seasons. This led to acting roles in feature films, including Funny People; I Love You, Man; Observe and Report; and 30 Minutes or Less.

In addition to his acting work, Ansari has continued to work as a stand-up comedian. He released his debut CD/DVD, entitled Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, in January 2010 on Comedy Central Records, and still tours nationally between acting commitments. In 2010 and 2011, he performed his Dangerously Delicious tour. This tour was self-released for download on his website in March 2012 and debuted on Comedy Central in May 2012. He completed his third major tour of new material, Buried Alive, in the summer of 2013. His fourth major comedy special, Live at Madison Square Garden, was released on Netflix in 2015.

His first book, Modern Romance: An Investigation, was released in June last year.

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