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COLUMN: Thank you, Aziz Ansari

The LGBTQ, black and female communities are raving about Lena Waithe’s Emmy acceptance speech for writing in a comedy series Sunday night. 

While Waithe making history as the first black woman to win this award deserves all the attention it is getting, there was another Emmy recipient on stage who deserves attention, as well. 

This year’s Emmys marked Aziz Ansari’s second consecutive award for writing in his hit Netflix show “Master of None.” This is also the second year in a row Ansari has been snubbed from giving an acceptance speech at the podium because of time constraints. 

Ansari deserved those thirty seconds in front of a microphone to be honored for his accomplishments and to be given a platform to speak, so I am going to give him a few words of recognition as a consolation prize.

Thank you, Aziz Ansari, for encouraging an open dialogue about diversity in the TV industry in almost everything you do. 

From a creative standpoint, you have given both of your co-winners, Lena Waithe and Alan Yang, the opportunity to use the Emmy Awards’ podium to speak on diversity and Asian, black and LGBTQ inclusion in the industry.

You have also not been shy about discussing Indian representation. You said of the “Thanksgiving” episode after this year’s Emmys: “It was pretty ambitious – even finding two young Indian kids to play me was hard.”

“Master of None” directly addresses the struggle of Indian-American actors to be cast in respectable, substantial roles. The show has tackled other diverse topics such as the Islamic faith, having foreign parents and more in a witty, honest way.

Speaking of “Master of None,” thank you, Aziz Ansari, for creating a show from which every generation can learn. 

The show makes subtle comments about millennials’ reliance on technology. It compares and contrasts the way parents in their 40s and 50s see the world with the way their children do. There is an entire episode dedicated to “old people” and how younger generations should respect their wisdom and experience.

Your show artfully demonstrates common human experiences that leaves the viewer feeling connected to those in the world around them – regardless of religion, gender, race or age. 

This leads me to my last note of gratitude. Thank you, Aziz Ansari, for intelligent, purposeful comedy. 

Your show, hosting monologue on "Saturday Night Live," standup and book are all composed with a message in mind. Your comedy challenges us to think, instills a desire in us to improve society and, importantly, continues to make us laugh.

After this year’s Emmys, you said, “People see the different kinds of stories out there and that people are responding to them.” I am saying, on behalf of the many people in that audience who didn’t get to clap for you Sunday night, that your work is doing just that. 

Congratulations on your award, and I look forward to eventually hearing the acceptance speech you’ve long deserved to give.


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