Though Aziz Ansari says his Master of None character Dev is “not quite” semi-autobiographical, it’s easy to see similarities between the comedic actor and his onscreen persona. And the same goes for his TV friends and love interest, who admit they have a lot in common with their characters.
“She’s a heightened version of me,” Lena Waithe told EW at the sitcom’s New York premiere Thursday. “She’s very straightforward, a lot like myself, and she loves her friends.”
Waithe, who plays Denise on the new Netflix series, acknowledges that her personality helped shape the role. “I don’t think they ever intended her to be African-American. They definitely didn’t intend for her to be gay,” Waithe said. “But when Aziz met me, he was like, ‘I like what I’m seeing and I want to make the character a little more like you.’ They were really cool and went back and rewrote the character to reflect more of my personality, which was amazing.”
The Bones writer’s onscreen relationship with Ansari spilled into real life, too. “He sends me weird Dubsmash videos and we text silly things all the time,” Waithe said. “He and I have a natural chemistry. We both talk really fast, we use our hands a lot, we both pay attention to very small, specific things.”
WANT MORE EW? Subscribe now to keep up with the latest in movies, television, and music.
Eric Wareheim, Ansari’s self-proclaimed “token white friend” in the series, also has a close relationship with the former Parks and Recreations star. “I’m the only white boy in the room and I feel like it’s based on my real friendship with Aziz,” Wareheim said. Their camaraderie dates back to before Master of None’s inception and relies heavily on a mutual love of food, specifically pasta.
“We’re constantly eating,” the 39-year-old comedian said. “Besides the show, the most important thing was ‘Where are we eating for lunch?’ “
For the actress behind Dev’s love interest Rachel, Noël Wells, the most important thing was trying to get into “sexy mode” while filming sex scenes with Ansari. “It was very funny shooting sex scenes and Aziz was kind of being goofy in between takes,” Wells said. “And I was like, ‘But I’m trying to be sexy and you’re being goofy.’ “
Like her character, whose first date with Dev is an overnight trip to Nashville, Wells advocates for unconventional first dates based on firsthand experience. “One of my old college boyfriends, who I dated for two and a half years, our first date was at a strip club,” Wells admitted. “So I think jumping in like that, you get to see what people are made of.”
Master of None season 1 is currently streaming on Netflix.