This week, Code Switch takes a look at the past and present of immigrants on TV with video profiles of a quartet of groundbreaking artists who are changing the game for how immigrants are depicted on the small screen. Read the intro essay for this package, “Fresh On The Screen: How TV Is Redefining Whom We Think Of As ‘American.'”
Today, we hear from Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi. Come back later this week for stories from Fresh Off the Boat showrunner Nahnatchka Khan, comedian and star of HBO’s Insecure Yvonne Orji and Grey’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez. This special package is made possible by the Vilcek Foundation.
Born Aasif Hakim Mandviwala in Mumbai, India, Aasif Mandvi broke through as one of the standouts of the Jon Stewart era of The Daily Show, specializing in lampooning xenophobia, immigrant-bashing and anti-Muslim attitudes as the show’s “Chief Brown Correspondent.”
He’s an immigrant twice over: His family emigrated first from India to Bradford, England when Mandvi was just a year old, and then to Tampa, Florida when Mandvi was a teen — according to Mandvi, because his father visited the city and fell in love with the concept of brunch: “There’s so much food here in America that they had to invent a fourth meal to eat it all!”
Most recently, Mandvi published a memoir, No Land’s Man (now available in paperback) and appeared in the HBO comedy series The Brink. He also developed Halal in the Family for the online video site Funny Or Die — a webseries that explodes Islamophobic attitudes by depicting the over-the-top escapades of prime-time’s first-ever Muslim American sitcom family.