Aziz Ansari took part in a recent Q&A following a screening of his new Netflix show, Master Of None, and touched on an opportunity he was offered to play an Indian call centre worker in Transformers. The comedian went on to explain that he passed on the role, calling out the film for falling back on a crude racial stereotype.
"It was a role for like a call-centre guy who has an accent," says Ansari. "And I was like, ‘No, I’m not doing it.’ And then [Master Of None co-star] Ravi [Patel] was like, ‘I’ll do it.’ And Ravi did it and made some decent money. And I don’t have anything against someone who does the accent. I understand. You got to work, and some people don’t think it’s a problem."
"[Racial quotas are] a real thing that happens," said Ansari, moving on to the TV landscape. "When they cast these shows, they’re like, ‘We already have our minority guy or our minority girl.’ There would never be two Indian people in one show. With Asian people, there can be one, but there can’t be two. Black people, there can be two, but there can’t be three because then it becomes a black show. Gay people there can be two, women there can be two, but Asian people, Indian people, there can be one but there can’t be two."
It’s an issue that Ansari touches upon in Master Of None, which sees his character being offered a lot of accent-dependent parts, and debuts on Netflix on November 6 2015.