Common Roles for Asian Actors
ONE out of 20 speaking roles in Hollywood go to Asians and only ONE of twenty leading roles go to Asians. This is what we have to work with. (This mainly refers to people who look East Asian. South Asian folks get an extra fun role related to terrorism.)
- •Unattractive NerdAn emasculated man who highlights the conventional attractiveness of the white protagonist. Jokes are made at their expense re: penis size
- •Mystical Asian TeacherKind Asians imparting their wisdom and mysticism to white heroes who use that knowledge better than any Asian ever could. Any iteration of Mister Miyagi.
- •Ninja (or expert at other Asian martial art)Usually non-speaking. Usually killed by white protagonist.
- •ImmigrantSpeaks with a heavy accent. Retains customs and values from their country of origin. Is often portrayed as stupid with outdated/antiquated beliefs and inferior to white Americans.
- •Scientist/Genius/ExpertProvides useful scientific explanations for whatever the white protagonist is dealing with and are rarely (or never) seen after this interaction.
- •ProstituteAlso non-speaking except for shit like "me love you long time". Usually cis women, sometimes trans women. Either killed or used for comedic effect. Sometimes both!
- •Triad/Yakuza Gang MemberOrganized crime members that white protagonists must stop (and usually kill).
- •Dragon LadyA villainous Asian woman who is cruel, treacherous, and scary. Also usually killed by white and/or male protagonists.
- •"You seem upset. Why don't you write your own roles? If you're not happy with what is out there, create your own!"I do, thanks for asking! But here's the thing. Producing a show or a film requires opportunities that are less available to people of color. Writers rooms are slowly getting more diverse BUT POC are still credited with writing <10% of episodes on scripted broadcast shows and ZERO broadcast shows had POC writers pen a majority of the episodes. It's slightly better for cable, thanks to BET. Guess what happens when you split the statistic between Black, Asian, Latino, and Native American writers?
- •"Cool, thanks for the info! Now, what do I do with this?"Support shows with POC creators, writers, and actors. Don't complain about the presence of POC on screen in non-stereotypical roles as "inauthentic" or "not canon". If you write or produce, include POC on your creative team and in your cast. Write. POC. Characters. Run your POC characters by real life people of color to make sure you're not perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Do not compromise when it comes time to cast. No, it's not hard if you are thoughtful and not lazy.
- •I know Harry Styles just cut his hair, but maybe check out the #whitewashedOUT hashtag on Twitter instead.