Ansari explored the issue further in an essay for the New York Times.
“Even at a time when minorities account for almost 40% of the American population, when Hollywood wants an ‘everyman,’ what it really wants is a straight white guy. But a straight white guy is not every man. The ‘everyman’ is everybody.”
Ansari echoed the same sentiment when speaking to Variety before the premiere of “Masters of None.”
“In most TV shows and in film, when you see the everyman, it’s always a straight white guy.” he said. “In reality, the everyman is everybody.”
The “Parks and Recreation” alum points to Arnold Schwarzenegger as an “unsung pioneer for minority actors.”
“There had to be someone who heard his name tossed around for the role and thought: ‘Wait, why would the robot have an Austrian accent? No one’s gonna buy that! We gotta get a robot that has an American accent! Just get a white guy from the States. Audiences will be confused.’ Nope. They weren’t. Because, you know what? No one really cares,” Ansari wrote.
He also lamented the lack of roles for actors of Asian descent. And when the roles are available, he said they’re often handed to other ethnicities. Most recently, the Indian character in Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” — named Venkat Kapoor in Andy Weir’s book — was rewritten for Chiwetel Ejiofor in the film.
“Even though I’ve sold out Madison Square Garden as a standup comedian and have appeared in several films and a TV series, when my phone rings, the roles I’m offered are often defined by ethnicity and often require accents,” he wrote.
However, Ansari also admits that it can be hard to find Indian actors. He cast his real-life parents, who had never acted before, as his character Dev’s mom and dad in “Masters of None.” The comedy also dedicated a full episode to “Indians on TV.”