Brown Boys in Hollywood

Brown Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

This article is born entirely out of a bias toward the good-looking brown men in Hollywood. I was curious how our boys were doing off the screen and on Instagram, and I figured some of our readers might be too. The world has long basked in the collective glory of Hasan Minhaj, Aziz Ansari, Riz Ahmed, Rami Malek, and Kal Penn. Let’s pull up some statistics to see exactly how much love these boys are getting on social media.

A game of numbers

1 – First I started off with Rami Malek who is my personal favourite. I have such a crush on him. I loved him in Mr. Robot — the awkward, anxiety-crippled hacker — and was absolutely enthralled by his majestic performance as Freddie Mercury in the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic.

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Malek’s audience has practically doubled since the beginning of the year. He experienced an 18% growth spike from 31st Dec to 6th Jan, which is likely due to the premiere of Bohemian Rhapsody in global cinemas, and then another more impressive increase of 775,000 followers from 28th Jan to 3rd Feb — just 6 days.

This is honestly quite impressive because Malek barely has any content on his feed. Apart from three pictures — two selfies with Stephen Colbert and one with Ellen DeGeneres (each posted 1 year apart) — there is practically no content on Malek’s Instagram.

This considered, his engagement rate is still inexplicably high.

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While it has decreased by half since 2016 (no surprises, he doesn’t post anything) 40% to begin with and 28.4% currently are really good numbers. Looks like Malek doesn’t have to do much, or anything at all, to keep people interested.

2 – Second is Aziz Ansari, whom I know from Parks & Recreation (a darling show) and later on from Master of None. Despite his growing popularity as a comedian, Ansari’s audience has been steadily shrinking since Jan 2018.

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This is a personal speculation of mine, but I believe that this decline has to do with the #MeToo allegations that were pitted against him in January last year. A controversial article was published on on January 13th by an anonymous woman who wrote about her date with Ansari that led to a case of sexual assault and misconduct.

The issue surrounding this disclosure was quite different from the Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey ones, because people seemed to occupy both sides of the camp quite heavily. This possibly explains why his audience hasn’t decreased tremendously, and the fact that the majority of his audience is still female.

In fact, Ansari’s top performing post this year is actually quite a heartwarming one:

It nestles him back in the fairly innocent, nostalgic role of Tom Haverford, where he is best remembered.

3 – Moving on to a less controversial figure, we have Riz Ahmed whom I will admit I only watched in Charlie XCX’s music video for ‘Boys’. A few hundred times. He also stars in the movie adaptation of The Reluctant Fundamentalist (which I read — does that count?)

Let’s start with Ahmed’s top performing post for this year.

OF COURSE. This post garnered a 20% engagement rate which is double his usual — an already impressively high number. Riz Ahmed AND Rami Malek in a single post? Naturally it got the most likes and comments on a single post this year.

Ahmed also has quite an interesting audience demographic.

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Despite being British, Ahmed has a larger following in the US and a fairly significant following in Asia, with audiences in Malaysia, Indonesia, and India. Additionally, he has the fewest female followers compared to all the other brown men in this article. Strange?

4 – Fourth up is Kal Penn, best known (in my opinion) for playing Kumar Patel in the Harold and Kumar series.

While Penn has the least followers amongst all these men in question, his audience has been growing quite impressively this year. It witnessed a spike of 15% in early January — possibly because he was announced to feature on Season 12 of The Big Bang Theory, possibly because NBC signed his comedy about immigrants, possibly because 23K people collectively realized he is a great person. The possibilities are endless.

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His top performing post for this year is a tribute to a fellow brown man in the industry, whom he thanks for “being you, so I could be me”.

This is a lovely meditation on race representation in Hollywood and the sort of bravery it takes to put yourself out there as a minority. Especially when behaviours like these still persist:

Fun fact: Kal Penn is the only one of these five men who is followed by @browngirlmag

5 – Last and most certainly not the least is Hasan Minhaj, whose segment — Patriot Act — is doing really well on Netflix.

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Minhaj’s audience increased by 15% in end October, which coincides with the premiere of Patriot Act. The growth has been on an upward trend since, which points towards Minhaj’s growing popularity on television, as well as the success of his show. Like Ahmed, Minhaj also as a high engagement rate which stands at a 9.30% average.

Minhaj’s top performing post of this year is woke.

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A post shared by Hasan Minhaj (@hasanminhaj) on

He addresses the New Zealand shootings in a sensitive manner and receives support from other celebrities including Tan France, another beautiful brown man in Western media.

Hasan Minhaj is the well-groomed woke bae we didn’t know we needed.

Roll out the brown carpet

Be they low-key or high-key, all these men have made significant contributions to the media in terms of their talent, expertise, intellect, and overall good-looking-ness. The numbers corroborate with public sentiment about these men, and give us an unbiased insight into perceptions and interest.

But on a more biased note, who’s your favourite?

Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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