Aziz Ansari's Golden Globe Win A Breakthrough for South Asian Representation

Aziz Ansari
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Aziz Ansari made history for South Asian representation at the Golden Globes.

Aziz Ansari made history Sunday night for South Asian representation at the Golden Globes.

During the 75th annual ceremony hosted by Seth Meyers on Sunday, the Master of None co-creator and star won Best Actor, Television – Comedy, marking the second time an actor of South Asian descent has won a Golden Globe in 35 years. Ben Kingsley, who is of Indian descent, won for Best Actor – Motion Picture, Drama in 1982.

Both Ansari and Hong Chau (Downsizing) were the only two Asian actors nominated at the Golden Globes, representing roughly three percent of the actors recognized across all the film and TV categories. The last actor of Asian descent to be nominated was Riz Ahmed in 2017, for the HBO miniseries, The Night Of. The only other actors of Asian descent to win Globes in the awards' 75-year history include Haing S. Ngor, Peg Tilly, Sandra Oh and Vic Tayback.

Asian representation onscreen and at awards show has long been a problem in Hollywood, only to be further exasperated at the 2016 Oscars, which was already under scrutiny after the Academy failed to nominate any people of color in the acting categories, when host Chris Rock brought out three Asian-American children for a stereotype-laden sight gag.

The response was immediate. Wu and Kim slammed the joke on Twitter, and a few days later, Sandra Oh, George Takei, and director Ang Lee were among several Academy members to sign an open letter, calling for an apology.

At the 2016 Primetime Emmys, Master of None co-creator Alan Yang made a plea that the industry strive to write and produce more Asian stories that reflect diverse audiences watching TV.

"There's 17 million Asian Americans in this country, and there's 17 million Italian Americans," Yang said while accepting the Emmy for comedy writing. “They have The Godfather,’ Goodfellas, Rocky, The Sopranos. We got Long Duk Dong, so we’ve got a long way to go. But I know we can get there. . . . Asian parents out there, if you could just do me a favor, if just a couple of you get your kids cameras instead of violins, we’ll be all good."