Aziz Ansari and Kerry Washington will be appearing in the fourth season of PBS SoCal’s Variety Studio: Actors on Actors series. As Variety reports, during their sit down, the actors discussed the diversity issue in Hollywood, particularly within the TV industry.
In a clip from their upcoming episode, the pair weren’t exactly sure why TV seemed to display more diversity than in films. “I feel like everybody’s talked so much about how there’s more diversity on TV than in film. I don’t understand why,” Washington, who stars on ABC’s Scandal and HBO’s Confirmation, asked Ansari. “Do you?”
“I don’t know,” Ansari, star of Master of None, replied. “If I had to guess, I feel like there’s more diverse creators.”
He discussed how Masters of None features a cast that includes Indian and Asian people. “We have a diverse group of friends and we didn’t even really think about it when we were making the show, that ‘Oh, this is diverse.’ We were just like, ‘This feels real.'”
The attention to Hollywood’s lack of diversity issue has been building in recent years. It’s a topic that inspired the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag during the 2015 Oscars, which reared again during this year’s Oscars. Chris Rock addressed it during his hosting duties and actors, including George Clooney and David Oyelowo added their voices to the public outcry. Earlier this year, a media study found that Hollywood has created an “epidemic of invisibility” for women, minorities and LGBT people. The issue even inspired Ryan Murphy to launch a new foundation aimed at increasing the number of females and minority directors in his series.
However, as Ansari and Washington noted in the Actors on Actors clip, the issue goes beyond Hollywood. “I saw this chart in The New York Times about like decision makers – the gatekeepers in every single industry – and it was like all white people,” Ansari said.
“It came out after ‘Oscars So White’ and I loved that they did it because there was all this attention on Hollywood, but it was like no, no, no, every industry is so white,” Washington added.
Ansari emphasized that as he works on Masters of None Season Two that he has the ability to improve the situation. “Now we’re in a position to help other people and in Season Two, I’ve been like, I gotta find – I gotta do just even more – and find even more actors of color and writers of color,” Ansari asserts in the video, and he also gives props to Chris Rock who Ansari says fosters diversity. “I think it’s really important. It’s kind of a responsibility we have once we kind of get to a certain place to look out for people.”
The two-part fourth-season premiere of Variety Studio: Actors on Actors airs on June 12th and June 19th on PBS SoCal and will also be available for stream via Variety.com.