Actor and comedian, Aziz Ansari, received the prestigious Peabody Award last night for his work on his original Netflix series Masters of None, and during his acceptance speech had quite a few things to say about the state of diversity in Hollywood.
“Thank you to the Peabodys, it really is a special honour, because, let’s be honest, so many award shows f*ck up!” Ansari said, highlighting the lack of well-written racially-diversity characters.
“They don’t give people awards that should probably get awards. And the Peabody is great because it seems like you guys actually watched all our sh*t, and decided it was good! There was no schmoozing, no weird-ass dinners.”
Ansari also flagged how the solution to diversity in casting isn't simply 'throw in a brown character', which would tokenise ethnic diversity instead of truly embrace it.
“And I want to thank Netflix and Universal for believing in us, and letting us tell our stories. I think they really seem to get what diversity really is. It’s not, “Hey, let’s give this white protagonist a brown friend!” No. It’s “Let’s have a show where there’s a token white guy’,” he said.
Ansari's creative partner and co-creator of Master of None, Alan Yang, was also recognised with a Peabody award last night.
Masters of None tells the story of Dev, an Indian-American actor in his thirty, played by Ansari, struggling to make it in New York City. Ansari's parents also star in the series as Dev's parents.
The Peabody awards are different to most other media awards since they recognise public service and merit in bodies of work published in broadcast media. The Peabody website describes their award as the Hollywood, TV, and radio equivalent to the Pulitzer prizes for literature and journalism.