What issues do Asians and Asian Americans struggle with in Hollywood and the entertainment industry? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Asians and Asian Americans have a few obstacles in Hollywood, one of them being visibility. When we talk about Asian representation, we need to include our minority brothers and sisters. When we talk about inclusion, let's talk about including everyone who is underrepresented.
You would think the solution would be to just put more minority faces in movies and television, but the answer is not that simple. I've been lucky enough to work in this business for many years. There haven't been a lot of roles written specifically for my "type," but that has never stopped me from working. My wonderful and open-minded agents have submitted me for many types of roles. Great casting directors have consistently thought outside the box when it came to casting me. Finding work has not been the problem.
The problem is that I was playing these roles created, written, or produced by people who were creating, writing, or producing for someone else, and I had to change their minds. They were plugging my Asian face into someone else's story.
Great stories are about outsiders, and we need to tell our own stories. Now, when I say outsider, I mean women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ people, people of different religions, etc. I believe there are too many straight white males speaking for us. It starts in the writers' room, and it starts with the decision makers. We need more outsiders to create characters and narratives that a diverse body of people can truly connect to. It's not that we're invisible, but we are so often portrayed as single note, one-dimensional, or negatively. If you're not an outsider, that might be the only type of minority you know. I'm a woman. I'm Asian. I'm a Buddhist. It would be nice to see myself in movies and on TV in roles other than secondary characters or weirdos.
When I saw Alan Yang's speech at the Emmys, in which he talked about Asian versus Italian role models, my first thought was, "This is probably the first time many non-Asians have thought about this."
I believe we need to create an industry pipeline that nurtures and trains a more diverse group of people. Most networks and studios have outreach programs in place, but until we see the final product, there is still work to do. I believe that the decision makers should open their worlds enough to let more outsiders in. I believe that with education and outrage, we can shift the balance of power when it comes to representation and inclusion.
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