Shoukath Ansari, his real-life dad, is the breakout star of Master of None.
A selfie of Aziz and his father. Photo via Aziz Ansari's Instagram.
Aziz Ansari has been making plenty of headlines lately for his new Netflix show, Master of None, a funny but frequently touching series about an actor named Dev Shah trying to make it in New York. It’s been getting plenty of accolades, for it’s delightful (and realistically diverse) cast, but a special spotlight has been shone on the man who plays Dev Shah’s dad—Ansari’s real-life dad, Shoukath Ansari, the show’s breakout star.
Ansari reportedly cast both his parents in the show after he had difficulty finding an older pair of South Asian actors to put in the roles. But the decision has paid off, as Shoukath Ansari’s performance is not only gut-bustingly hilarious but often poignantly sweet. Ansari paid tribute to his dad this morning in a selfie he took of the two of them after they made an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert—and he captioned the photo with a message that will make you weep openly at your desk:
“My dad took off most of his vacation time for the year to act in Master of None. So I’m really relieved this all worked out. Tonight after we did Colbert together he said: "This is all fun and I liked acting in the show, but I really just did it so I could spend more time with you." I almost instantly collapsed into tears at the thought of how much this person cares about me and took care of me and gave me everything to give me the amazing life I have. I felt like a total piece of garbage for all the times I haven’t visited my parents and told them I wanted to stay in New York cause I’d get bored in SC. I’m an incredibly lucky person and many of you are as well. Not to beat a dead horse here and sorry if this is cheesy or too sentimental but if your parents are good to you too, just go do something nice for them. I bet they care and love you more than you realize.”
If you’ve already binge-watched your way through Master of None, you know that episode two of the show tackles the relationships that first-generation kids have with their immigrant parents. Viewers all over the U.S. probably found themselves making tearful phone calls to their parents after watching “Parents”. And Ansari writes that he got plenty of messages about it as well:
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the Parents episode of our show. What’s strange is doing that episode and working with my parents has increased the quality of my relationship to my parents IN MY REAL LIFE. In reality, I haven’t always had the best, most open relationship with my parents because we are weirdly closed off emotionally sometimes. But we are getting better. And if you have something like that with your family - I urge you to work at it and get better because these are special people in your life and I get terrified when my dad tells me about friends of his, people close to his age, that are having serious health issues, etc. Enjoy and love these people while you can.”
This past week, Ansari also wrote an insightful piece in the New York Times, a little-known American newspaper, about casting, race and Hollywood.