Aasif Mandvi: Being A Brown Kid In A White World

Sunday, June 07, 2009

For any of you Aasif Mandvi fans (who'll be in the new film The Proposal), here's a snippet from a new interview where he talks about growing up in Britain, "The Office", "The Daily Show", sleeping on a mattress in a friend's apartment and being a brown kid in a white world:

He argues Britain is at least a decade ahead in its representation of Asians on television, a consequence of the historic connections. "Britain's relationship with the Indian subcontinent is far older than America's," he says. "In America, people think being south Asian is still kind of exotic. When you go outside New York and Chicago and LA, there are people who have never tried Indian food ... they've never even tasted it!"

Mandvi's childhood memories of Britain are not all rose-tinted. "I grew up on Les Dawson and Yorkshire pudding, but also on being chased down the streets by gangs of skinheads." Would the success he has enjoyed have been possible had his parents remained in Bradford? "In Britain, you never get away from the fact that you're a foreigner," he replies. "In the US, the view is it doesn't matter where you come from. But you also have to remember that America is so huge, and has so many immigrant populations, that it is only in the last decade that the United States is getting to know south Asians. It is changing, though: there are more south Asians on TV today than there were 10 years ago, like Sanjay Gupta on CNN, Parminder Nagra, also from Britain, on ER, and I think that trend will continue. In entertainment, we are still striving to find what our real identity is outside of [the film] Harold & Kumar - a real identity as an insider and outsider, not just as an outsider."
Read it in full.