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Aziz Ansari Will Be Saturday Night Live’s First South Asian Host

For the first time in the Saturday Night Live’s 42-year history, an Indian American will host the hit NBC show as announced on Tuesday.

Standup comic and TV star Aziz Ansari will make history on Jan. 21 by being the show’s first host of South Asian descent, according to the Washington Post.

Ansari had tremendous success in 2016, earning several Emmy nominations for his Netflix show “Master of None”, in which he won the “outstanding writing for a comedy series” category. The comedian’s nomination for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series was also historic, having been the first Indian American to be able to do so.

“I’m very happy but it’s a very specific accomplishment,” he was quoted as saying.

According to statistics, over 90% of SNL’s hosts have been white, with the rest being mostly black. Celebrities of Asian descent have hosted the show in the past: Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu. Fred Armisen and Bruno Mars, who have some Asian ancestry, have also been SNL hosts.

While criticisms at the lack of diversity have hounded the show recently, SNL has been trying in recent years to add more people of color to its roster of talents.

Sasheer Zamata and Leslie Jones were brought into SNL to add black female cast members in 2013, while Melissa Villaseñor, the show’s latest addition, is the show’s first Latina member. Nasim Pedrad became the show’s first female Middle Eastern cast member, who stayed from 2009-2014.

Observers believe that having more diverse cast members will actually give the show more credibility in dishing out its usual satiric comments on current events.

Landing the SNL hosting gig, however, is approached in a totally different manner.

Hosts may at times be invited if they’re either promoting an upcoming movie or album or has recently shot up to immense popularity.

As Asians are given more big breaks in the entertainment industry, SNL will continue to book as many Asian talents as hosts.

But if recent Asian accomplishments in the entertainment industry are any indication, it is possible that Ansari’s SNL hosting gig will kick off a different trend this year. Hopefully.

Image via Flickr / Timothy Krause

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