Ronny Chieng Nails Why Media Diversity Matters Not Just 'For Diversity's Sake'

"... We all have shared common human experiences.”

Ronny Chieng’s take on the importance of diversity is insanely real. 

The comedian, who has a role in the upcoming movie “Crazy Rich Asians,”  took to Facebook last week on the project’s final day of filming to explain the true power of representation in media.

“The Daily Show” correspondent reflected on his time working on the film, which features an all-Asian cast. His comments warrant a total mic-drop. 

“The point of showing different perspectives is not diversity for diversity’s sake,” Chieng said. “But when you tell authentic stories you show people that no matter how alien someone’s background might seem to you, we all have shared common human experiences.”

In his post, Chieng also described how the film, which tells a cross-cultural story between Asian-Americans and Singaporeans, has special meaning for him. The comedian, who’s resided in the U.S. as well as Malaysia and Singapore himself, described his experience as living “between two worlds” ― something he says was well-represented in the movie. 

“It is difficult to put into words what it means to be part of a culturally significant project that so specifically showcases the intersection between these two Asian diasporas in a hip, funny and elegant way,” he said. 

Chieng’s post underscores the benefits of diversity on screen for both people of color and mainstream audiences. But they also allude to a sobering point: Asian casts are rarely seen in media. In fact, it’s been more than two decades since Hollywood’s come out with a film starring Asian families, with “The Joy Luck Club,” debuting in 1993, Slate pointed out.

Leading actors of Asian descent are also almost unheard of. A 2015 diversity in media report revealed only 4 percent of actors in the top films that year were Asian. There’s been essentially no percentage increase in characters of color from 2007. 

But a research shows that Hollywood has incentive to make diverse films. It pays off, literally. According to the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), a cast that is at least 30 percent non-white outperforms a release that is not in opening weekend box office.

With the hype surrounding “Crazy Rich Asians,” hopefully we’ll be seeing way more Asian casts slay on the big screen. 

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