Aziz Ansari called out Hollywood about its minority representation while promoting the first season of his Emmy-winning show “Master of None.”
The Netflix comedy, which debuts its second season on Friday, follows the misadventures of lovelorn actor Dev (Ansari) as he weathers a storm of casting calls, dating, friends, and family.
“We just kind of wrote about our own experiences,” “Master of None” cocreator Alan Yang recently told Business Insider. “A lot of that stuff was based on what an Indian person growing up in the acting world goes through, and the kind of stuff Aziz was getting offered.”
The former “Parks and Recreation” star wasn’t shy about sharing his experiences in landing roles, and he made headlines when he shared what he believed to be Hollywood’s unfortunate formula for casting minorities, which included a racial quota of no more than one Indian or Asian actor on a project.
“I’ve been blessed with really just unbelievable working experiences, but it is true that there aren’t that many Asian comedy writers or just Asian screenwriters in general,” Yang, whose writing/producing credits include “Parks and Rec” and “The Good Place,” said. “And so we are just writing from our specific experience. We don’t have any axes to grind.”
For Yang and Ansari, creating “Master of None” was part of the solution. And Yang does believe that the attention the show has gotten from the entertainment industry has made a dent in its awareness of minority representation.
“I’d like to think it is changing,” Yang said. “I would never say, well, that problem’s solved! I think we’re in the process and the first step of awareness has been happening. ‘Friends’ looks like a totally different era now. It’s a great show, but you watch it and you’re like, this is a very white show. But that’s just how things were then. So the fact that you watch a show like that and it does seem a little weird that Jerry [Seinfeld] dates like 200 white people, or whatever it is, shows it was a different time. I think things are gradually changing. I’m an optimist, so I’ll always believe that things will improve if we just work at it.”
The second season of “Master of None” takes a break from Dev’s acting career on its first few episodes by giving him a new locale: Italy. Fans will remember that Dev proclaimed he was going there at the end of season one. Among the many reasons for the move, Yang said that it wouldn’t be “satisfying” for the audience if the show didn’t follow through on that storyline.
“There’s also other compelling reasons,” Yang said. “The opportunity to take this guy out of his comfort zone. He’s been this guy who in season one was too timid to make decisions and then to make his big decision — I think it’s a nice payoff to see how that impacts him. And it was an awesome opportunity to shoot in a beautiful place with kind of a stranger in a strange land-type feel. And on top of that, we got to pay homage to all these amazing Italian films and shoot in this beautiful city and put him amongst all these new characters and explore these new dynamics.”
NOW WATCH: Aziz Ansari nails Hollywood’s race problem