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Aziz Ansari Became The First Asian Man to Win Best Actor in a TV Series Last Night

“I’m glad we won this one, because it would’ve really sucked to lose two of these in a row; it would’ve been a really sh*tty moment for me, but this is nice.”

Last night, South Carolina native and Parks and Recreation alum Aziz Ansari became the first Asian-American male actor to win a Golden Globe for a lead role in a comedy television category, winning for his Netflix show Master of None. He’s also the first Asian actor period to win a Golden Globe since 2006.

When you hear about firsts like this, do you find it shocking? I am still surprised that Sterling K. Brown was the first black male actor to win TV lead in a drama, so I wanted to see which acting awards Asian and Asian-Americans actors had won at the Golden Globes and other awards shows before tonight.

There are four other Asian actors who have won Golden Globes. Yoko Shimada won Best Actress in a Television Series Drama in 1980 for Shōgun. Sandra Oh won in 2006 for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or Motion Picture for TV for Grey’s Anatomy. Haing Somnang Ngor won Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture in 1984 for The Killing Fields. Ben Kingsley won two Golden Globes in 1983 for his performance in Gandhi: one for Best New Actor and one for Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture.

In 2010, Archie Panjabi became the first—and until 2017, the only—Asian actor to win a Primetime Emmy Award, taking home the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Kalinda Sharma on CBS’s The Good Wife. In 2017, Riz Ahmed became the first Asian actor to ever win an Emmy and the second Asian actor ever to win a Primetime Emmy for The Night Of. 

While no Asian-American has ever won an Academy Award for acting, three Asian actors or actors of Asian descent have won three total, with the most recent being 1984: 36 years ago. Sir Ben Kingsley won Best Actor for Gandhi (1982), Haing S. Ngor won Best Supporting Actor for The Killing Fields (1984), and Miyoshi Umeki won Best Supporting Actress for  Sayonara (1957).

Ruthie Ann Miles and Lea Salonga are the only two Asian actresses ever to win a Tony Award, and the only male Asian actor to win a Tony is B.D Wong in 1998 for his performance as Song Liling in M. Butterfly.

We have a long way to go when it comes to representing Asian actors and actresses across multiple avenues, and Aziz’s win is one small step in the right direction.

(Featured image: screengrab)

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