Aziz Ismail Ansari born February 23, 1983 is an American actor, writer, producer, director, and comedian. He is known for his role as Tom Haverford on the NBC series Parks and Recreation (2009–2015), and as creator and star of the Netflix series Master of None 2015 for which he won several acting and writing awards, including two Emmys and a Golden Globe for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy. With his Golden Globe win, Ansari became the first Indian American and Asian American actor to win a Golden Globe for acting in television.
Ansari began his career performing stand-up comedy in New York City in mid-2000 while attending New York University. In 2007, he created and starred in the MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant, which ran for two seasons. This led to acting roles in feature films, including Funny People; I Love You, Man; Observe and Report; and 30 Minutes or Less.
As a stand-up comedian, Ansari released his debut comedy special, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, in January 2010 on Comedy Central Records, and tours nationally between acting commitments. In 2010 and 2011, he performed his Dangerously Delicious tour, which was self-released for download on his website in March 2012 and debuted on Comedy Central in May 2012. He completed his third major tour, Buried Alive, in the summer of 2013. His fourth comedy special, Live at Madison Square Garden, was released on Netflix in 2015. His first book, Modern Romance: An Investigation, was released in June 2015. He was included in the Time 100 list of most influential people in 2016.
Aziz Ansari was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to a Tamil Muslim family from Tamil Nadu, India. Ansari grew up in Bennettsville, South Carolina, where he attended Marlboro Academy as well as the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. He graduated from the New York University Stern School of Business with a major in marketing. His mother is an obstetrician and gynecologist and his father, Shoukath, is a gastroenterologist. Both Fatima and Shoukath have appeared in seasons 1 and 2 of Master of None.
In June 2008, Ansari was announced as the first cast hire for NBC’s comedy Parks and Recreation. The show debuted in April 2009 with Ansari playing Tom Haverford, an underachieving government official with extreme self-confidence and dreams of being successful. He was a main character of the show for its seven seasons. Ansari’s performance has received praise from critics, including Entertainment Weekly naming him one of 2009’s “Breakout TV Stars”, TV Guide naming him a “Scene Stealer”, and Yahoo! TV placing him in the No. 1 spot on its list of “TV MVPS”.
Ansari’s performance in the show earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy. The series earned four Emmy nominations in 2016: Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Ansari and Yang, and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Ansari; Yang and Ansari won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the episode “Parents”. Yang and Ansari were also honored with a Peabody Award in May 2016 for the series.
The show was renewed for a second season, which was released on May 12, 2017. The second season has also received strong reviews and has a 100% “Certified Fresh” ranking on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
In 2018 Ansari won a Golden Globe for best actor in a TV comedy for the show; this made him the first Asian-American actor to win a Golden Globe for acting in television.
Ansari has made appearances in several films, including Get Him to the Greek, I Love You, Man, 30 Minutes or Less, and Observe and Report. In 2009, Ansari appeared in the Judd Apatow film Funny People. Apatow liked Ansari’s character, “Randy”, and commissioned him and Human Giant collaborator Jason Woliner to create online shorts centered around his character, to promote the film. These shorts proved successful and the character became the subject of one of the film ideas Ansari and Woliner are developing for Apatow Productions. Two other ideas in development are Let’s Do This, a road movie about two motivational speakers, and an untitled film about two disgraced astronauts who must return to space to clear their names. Ansari is attached to star in another film with Danny McBride based on an idea from Ansari and 30 Rock writer Matt Hubbard. In April 2010, it was announced that Ansari would star in the film 30 Minutes or Less. The film was directed by Ruben Fleischer and co-starred Jesse Eisenberg and McBride. The film was released on August 12, 2011.
Ansari was in a relationship with professional chef Courtney McBroom from 2014 to January 2016.
He has self-identified as a feminist, saying his girlfriend has helped influence him. Ansari also incorporated an episode about feminism titled “Ladies and Gentlemen” in Master of None. In an interview in 2015, he spoke about the episode’s meaningfulness to him saying “I thought it was interesting that this is happening, yet so many people are unaware of it. And the problem is people aren’t talking about it. What I’ve learned, as a guy, is to just ask women questions and listen to what they have to say. Go to your group of female friends and ask them about times they’ve experienced sexism at their job, and you’ll get blown away by the things they tell you.”
Ansari is a “foodie” (although he dislikes the term); he and his friends Eric Wareheim and Jason Woliner have formed what they called “The Food Club”, which involves them dressing up in suits and captain hats and rewarding restaurants with “Food Club” plaques. The plaques have their faces engraved along with the words: “The Food Club has dined here and deemed it plaque-worthy”. He explained to Vanity Fair, “It’s a really serious-looking plaque and all of the restaurants we’ve given it to have put it front and center. It’s funny because people will walk into a restaurant and be like, ‘What the fuck is the Food Club? Who are these guys etched in gold?'” They also produced a tongue-in-cheek video about the club for Jash, filming them debating whether or not restaurants were plaque-worthy.
Ansari was a close friend of the late comedian Harris Wittels and they frequently worked together. He has a brother, Aniz Adam Ansari, who co-wrote an episode of Master of None.
In January 2018, a woman using the pseudonym ‘Grace’ accused Ansari of sexual misconduct in an article on Babe.net. The article was met with a polarized and mixed response among commentators and the public with disagreement as to whether the incident described in the Babe article constitutes sexual misconduct. Ansari stated that the encounter “by all indications was completely consensual,” but critics have stated that his actions were misogynist, lacked affirmative consent, and spoke to a larger culture of harmful male expectations. Others say that Ansari’s actions did not constitute sexual misconduct and that his accuser’s narrative trivializes the larger movement against forms of sexual abuse. In an article for The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan wrote that the narrative in Babe was revenge porn. HLN host Ashleigh Banfield called Ansari’s accuser’s actions “appalling” and said she damaged the #MeToo movement.