Hey Hollywood, Stop Whitewashing and Cast These 5 Asian Actors
Here’s a wild concept for a science fiction film: in a distant world not unlike our own, Asian actors in Hollywood are actually cast in film roles. We know, we know. Compared to the last year in Hollywood, where only five percent of characters in 2014’s top 700 grossing films were Asian, this sounds like a ludicrous fantasy. It seems like the only time we talk about Asian actors in movies lately, it’s to lament the fact that yet another lily white person has been cast in a role meant for someone who is Asian. Yet while the tradition of whitewashing certainly isn’t new, it’s still surprising to see it happen year after year, despite numerous people within and outside of Hollywood speaking out against it.
It’s been less than a year since the Internet cried out in disgust over Emma Stone playing a part-Asian character in the Hawaiian-set film Aloha. Yet here we are, in the fifth month of 2016, and already two major films have chosen not to cast Asian actors as Asian characters. And this doesn’t even include Hollywood’s apparent inability to cast Asian actors in roles that don’t devolve into Asian stereotypes.
Here we are once again, reading op-eds from Asian acting legends like Margaret Cho and George Takei that take Hollywood to task for its lack of diversity and for movie executives’ consistently poor excuses. We don’t want to know why Tilda Swinton is playing a historically Tibetan character named The Ancient One in Dr. Strange or why studios experimented with CG to make Scarlett Johannsson look more Asian for her role as Major Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell. We just want it to stop.
Hollywood executives still don’t seem to grasp that, the more diverse a cast, the more money a movie makes. In 2014, minorities bought 46 percent of the $1.2 billion in tickets sold in the United States, according to the MPAA. Yet rather than spiral into a rage coma like we usually do, we’ve decided to lend a hand and lead the industry out of the 1950s and into modern society. We know it’ll be hard, since, in 2013, more than 92 percent of movie studios’ senior executives, 82 percent of film directors, and 88 percent of film writers were white. But we have faith. From Milk with love, here are some of our favorite Asian actors that exist in Hollywood right now.
Excuse us while we grab a glass (or gallon) of water. Like much of the Internet, we’re pretty thirsty for the beauty that exudes from Gao. The Taiwanese actor has been heating up the screen in his short film career and is poised for a big breakout role in a Hollywood action film. He was the best (read: only tolerable) part of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and he has his name attached to two projects, but that’s not enough. I mean, sure, he also models, but why is he not starring in at least a dozen more films? We’d watch him read a phone book.
The Indian-American actor who famously became a mutant fly creature on Heroes is no stranger to Hollywood. He’s been in 28 acting roles and even made The CW’s Beauty and the Best somewhat manageable. Right now he’s on the British TV series Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, but we’re ready to see him take on the film industry. Since there seems to be more superhero movies per year than there are days in a week, we’d suggest Hollywood starts there. Plus, look at him shirtless. We’re ready.
As one of the first Asian-American actresses to have a contract role way back in the late 1980s, she’s been paving the way for Asian actors for decades. We’ve already been well acquainted with her for years as Mulan (yes, she plays the most badass Disney heroes of all time) and she’s been literally kicking ass on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the past several years, yet we’re still waiting for her big Hollywood takeover. With the news that Hollywood is developing a live-action Mulan movie, we’ll be forced to riot if she isn’t cast to reprise her role. The only thing better than Wen voicing Mulan is watching her kick ass in real life. Your move, Hollywood.
“Authentic programming that shows the outside world garners authentic interest,” Wu said about her role in the groundbreaking Asian-American TV show Fresh Off the Boat. She’s been slaying that show and speaking out about Asian characters getting whitewashed for the past year. Now it’s time to move off the boat and onto the set of a major Hollywood film to showcase her talents.
It's like way to reduce race to mere phys appearance as opposed to say culture, social experience, identity, history https://t.co/JDbu9s0DPt
— Constance Wu (@ConstanceWu) April 15, 2016
We’ve watched as the British Indian actor grew out of his debut role on the teen drama Skins as Anwar and become a pop culture phenomenon in 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire. Since then he’s been in a handful of movies and has shown his skill as a lead in romantic comedies, yet he’s still typecast into Asian roles. You can catch him playing a famous Indian mathematician in The Man Who Knew Infinity, or watch him play an Indian man searching for his lost family in this year’s Lion. It’s great that he gets cast for these roles and we’d love to see him take on more Asian characters, but it would be even more exciting to see him play a role that isn’t about being Indian. We believe in you, Hollywood. Don’t disappoint us too much this year.
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Images via Tumblr and The Hollywood Reporter.