aziz ansari transformers

Aziz Ansari has a new comedy series coming to Netflix and it looks like a great, hilarious look at life in the year 2015. And, perhaps more importantly, Master of None is giving the always funny Parks and Recreation veteran a new platform from which he can brutally honest about the topics that he’s obviously passionate about. Like the state of race and Hollywood and that time he turned down a role in Transformers because of some general racial ickiness associated with the part.

You can read the Aziz Ansari Transformers story (as well as some of his other insightful, sad comments) after the jump.

Ansari participated in a Q&A after a screening of Master of None at EW Fest and Vulture was there to collect his most interesting anecdotes and quotes. While many of his stories deal directly with the show and how many of the jokes are taken straight from the real lives of the series’ writers room, he was able to speak about a broader range of topics. The kind of topics that people often like to ignore by covering their ears and humming loudly. You know, like just about anything involving race.

First, he broke down the “racial quotas” beyond Hollywood casting, describing how minority actors of all kinds are seen as numbers to be met. Even someone who’s not a Hollywood insider can look at the media landscape and see the truth in his words:

[Racial quotas are] a real thing that happens. 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.

This segues straight into that Transformers story. It turns out that Ansari was offered a tiny role in the first Transformers movie, but he turned it down because it would have forced him to play straight into stereotype that so many actors of Indian descent have been stuck in for years:

It was a role for like a call-center guy who has an accent. And I was like, ‘No, I’m not doing it.’ And then [friend and costar] 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.

For the record, here’s the scene in question:

That scene would be vaguely racist and off-putting under any circumstance, but it’s especially gross in a movie where the vast majority of the cast is white. Most of those characters could have easily been played by actors of any race without changing a single thing about them, which makes the inclusion of a single Indian actor in a stereotypical role all the more troubling. Ansari isn’t necessarily pointing fingers at the Transformers films (although that series has its fair share of baffling racial issues), but he’s bringing this lack of representation to the attention of people who may want to look the other way. After all, Ansari had to create his own Netflix show to actually find a role that he actually wanted to play.

The trailer for Master of None even features a scene that looks directly culled from real-life experiences as an Indian actor in Hollywood, complete with a condescending casting director:

Master of None will premiere on Netflix on November 6, 2015.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: