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Aziz Ansari, Lena Waithe, Angela Bassett Discuss ‘Master of None,’ Recent Cancellations of Inclusive Shows

Variety logo Variety 6/6/2017 Susan Hornik
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While many diverse series have been canceled in recent weeks, Aziz Ansari, co-creator and star of his Netflix comedy, “Master of None,” believes television’s interest in series with ethnically-diverse casts will continue.

“I do think it’s slowly becoming better,” Ansari told Variety at the For Your Consideration event, held Monday night at the Saban Media Center at the Television Academy’s Wolf Theatre.

“It’s moving at a snail’s pace, but I think people are more aware of the idea that so much of our standard storytelling point of view is a straight, white male,” he said. “I think we are realizing that there are other perspectives that haven’t been explored as much in American film and television.”

Prior to the panel, members screened two episodes of the series, “New York, I Love You,” which explored the lives of diverse locals, and “Thanksgiving,” where Lena Waithe’s character comes out to her mom as a lesbian.

Waithe has received immense support from both the gay and straight communities for her role. “It’s been wonderful; it feels like a warm hug. People saying, ‘Look, we embrace you and all the things that make you different and unique.’ To be lifted up by people has been phenomenal. On Twitter and Instagram, people hit me up, those who are both gay and straight.”

She continued, “To me that is what a revolution looks like — people seeing themselves in me. Even though we walk through the world very differently. I think that is super important. That’s what great art does. You hope.”

About the diverse series that have been canceled, Waithe doesn’t believe it’s a foreshadowing of what’s to come.

“A lot of times, sometimes it’s politics or how you schedule it. The diversity thing is definitely coming up,” he said. “To me, it’s really about us telling our stories — that’s the important thing. I want more people of color to have a lot of creative freedom to tell their stories. I think when you do that, people are going to connect to it in a real way.”

Angela Bassett plays Waithe’s mom in the critically acclaimed episode.

“With so many platforms available, I hope that we can continue to take steps forward,” said Bassett. “It is an opportunity to see a diverse variety of cultures. That was one of the aspects that drew me to this role. Where can I turn on and see the Indian culture and that humor, from that perspective?”

She continued, “I love these stories, these worlds. We see them, we live next door to them. Television should reflect our world.”

While the recently released second season of Netflix’s “Master of None” took almost two years to put together, there is no telling how long it will take Ansari to come up with a third one.

“I don’t think we will do it anytime soon — that would be my personal preference,” Ansari said. “I don’t think my notebook is full enough to be confident to do something that would be what we did this time.”

Co-creator Alan Yang offered more hope for eager fans.

“Aziz and I are always texting each other; we’ll see. We always have a few ideas in the hopper that we haven’t yet done, which we are kicking around,” he said. “We have to execute them properly and figure out why they are funny.”

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