Asian Americans Bash Hollywood’s Casting Process

Project Casting

Constance Wu says Asian American actors have to train like it’s the olympics in order to get parts over whites.

In a recent New York Times report, many popular Asian-American actors including Constance Wu, BD Wong, Aziz Ansari, Daniel Dae Kim and more discussed the problems they have had in landing acting jobs in Hollywood. Many of the actors said the lack of diversity in Hollywood is the reason why they have struggled to find opportunities. In addition, many of the characters that were written as Asian (Aloha and Ghost in the Shell) have been whitewashed.

The overall problem, according to the New York Times, goes behind the studio to the belief that “stories about straight white people are universal,” as Ansari said. In addition, the report suggests that there is a pervasive notion among studio executives that a non-white actor has the ability to play a part as good as a white actor, regardless of talent or work ethic or rightness for the part.

From The New York Times:

But mostly, Asian-Americans are invisible. Though they make up 5.4 percent of the United States population, more than half of film, television and streaming properties feature zero named or speaking Asian characters, a February report from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California found. Only 1.4 percent of lead characters in a sample of studio films released in 2014 were Asian.

For Asian-American actors, the dearth of opportunities compounds itself. “An Asian person who is competing against white people, for an audience of white people, has to train for that opportunity like it’s the Olympics,” Ms. Wu said. “An incredibly talented Asian actor might be considered for a leading role maybe once or twice in a lifetime. That’s a highly pressured situation.”

But, social media is revolutionizing the casting process. The recent hashtag campaigns #StarringJohnCho showed a large group of people interested in seeing Asian-American actors in leading roles.

“As I was Photoshopping John Cho’s face on top of Tom Cruise’s in the ‘Mission Impossible’ poster, my friends and I started chuckling a little bit, like, ‘How crazy would that be?’” said William Yu, the 25-year-old who created the hashtag. “Then I caught myself. Why should it be crazy?”

You can read the full story here.