Asians in Today’s Hollywood
If you ask a bunch of actors what their dream roles are, you are likely to get a wide range of answers. Their answers could go from action hero to a knight in shining armor. However, if you look at the movies and television shows of today, you can see those roles are all played by the same people. Lead roles are usually played caucasian actors, no matter what the story is. Movies like “Dragon Ball Z,” and more recently “Ghost in the Shell,” all have caucasian leads when those characters are supposed to be played by an Asian since that is how the original story is told. Major Asian roles would include them being either the nerd or someone who is shy and conservative. Asian actors and actresses are still being treated the same way, even after years of Hollywood exposure.
Asians Playing Into Their Stereotypes
Asian men often play characters such as nerds, doctors, and are characters who are desexualized. As for Asian women, they are often given characters that would overly sexualize themselves. They are also playing characters that are submissive, dainty, and quiet. As if dating an Asian woman is a fantasy and dating an Asian guy is a tragedy. Asians are still underrepresented on both the big and small screen.We have actors like Jenna Ushkowitz, who played Tina Cohen-Chang on Glee. Ushkowitz played the stereotypical nerd role with a small gothic attitude but someone who loved to sing. Also, Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical series. Hudgens also played a nerd character who had a secret love for singing.
White-Washing Asian Characters
The term “white-washing” is described as casting white actors to play non-white characters. There are countless movies where the major roles that are supposed to be played by Asian actors and actresses. Some examples include Emma Watson in “Aloha” and Scarlett Johansson in "Ghost In "The Shell." They are both great actresses and did their parts justice. But, Watson and Johansson did not portray their characters as supposed to be portrayed. That is Asian. Not a lot of people will understand the self-esteem issue that may come along with this. Aspiring Asian actors and actresses may start to feel that they’re not able to get a lead role. They would feel as if they will only land roles that fit their stereotype. However, there has also been an incidence of few reverse-whitewashing as well. When Samuel L Jackson, played Nick Fury from the Avengers and when Will Smith played Deadshot in Suicide Squad. Nick Fury and Dead Shot are two characters that were originally written as white but were played by someone of color.
Asians Who Broke The Stereotype
There are Asians who do play roles that aren’t so stereotypical. In the 2000s, we had Lucy Liu star in Charlie’s Angels as Alex Munday. She didn’t play the nerd, or the goth but played someone who had some serious fighting skills. We also have actress Brenda Song, who starred in Disney Channel’s, “Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” Song played the wealthy heiress, who wasn’t particularly the sharpest tool in the shed Now, we have actors like Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and Ross Butler (13 Reasons Why and Riverdale) playing characters outside the stereotype. Yeun plays a strong leader and fighter while he was on The Walking Dead. As for, Butler he played both the tough and soft jock on both television shows he starred in. As an Asian-American myself, it is nice to see the growing number of Asian actors in Hollywood. The stereotype of being the smart Asian or the kung-fu master is slowly coming to a close. I just hope in the near future we will be able to see Asian stars play lead roles that aren’t necessarily the stereotype.