In almost 20 years he’s gone from playing a stereotypical Asian nerd in the WB show Popular to now being a central character in the critically acclaimed Emmy Award-winning Master of None on Netflix.
His character Brian Chang allows him to portray an Asian American experience in a genuine way.
“You don’t just want more people of different ethnicities on the screen, you want to tell their stories,” Yu said to the Daily Bruin, the student newspaper at UCLA where he was an undergraduate.
“It is a very big deal to go to Netflix and pitch a show about a regular guy who happens to be Indian American, and to win awards and Emmys and get a lot of viewers,” Yu said about co-creators Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang. “That speaks volumes to studios – like, ‘Yep, we can do this.’”
Master of None is nominated this year for an Emmy in the categories of Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. It’s an opportunity many actors can only dream of getting.
“Life is short, and you’re only sort of fun to look at for a few years of your life before you’re not,” he told Vulture last year. “So in that window, I think I would want to have some discretion over the stories that I tell, and I do feel a sense of responsibility to tell interesting stories. Aziz sort of talks about this in the episode — it’s not about the accent. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about, what are we serving? And is the story good”
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