Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Say No to Asian Stereotypes!

Part of my ultimate goal in being in actress is to be a strong representative of Asian Americans in the media. Yes, there is that all too distant goal of being the first Asian American to win Best Actress, but I'll set my sights on goals I can more readily achieve for the time being.

It is to my great dismay when I see casting calls, breakdowns, or even sides which call for demeaning Asian stereotypes. Just recently I saw one breakdown saying "You must be okay with playing this stereotypical Asian role." Excuse me? I may be a no-name actress, but that's not okay. Is it okay to post something like "You must be okay with playing this stereotypical Black role"? No, it's not. But in this current day and age, some people still think that having stereotypical broken-English speaking Asian immigrants is funny and something Asian actors would be happy to portray.

I volunteered this past weekend at the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) 20th Anniversary Gala at Union Station. Besides devolving into a shy and flustered fan at the meeting of Harry Shum, Jr (Mike Chang on Glee), I met another Asian working actor who had been on the pilot of New Girl. He was very happy about how his role was just to play a dick - a straight-up dick, no Asian reference attached. While at first I thought that was a strange thing to be happy about, I realize he was very right to be happy. It's a great feeling to be able to portray a role which doesn't somehow mock or heavily reference your ethnicity.

Totally was too shy to meet him!
I want to one day help build the strong presence of Asian Americans in Hollywood and tear down the stereotypes. I'm an Asian American whether I like it or not - and I have an inherent obligation to my community. A friend commented saying that I should just find the humor in the stereotypical roles and accept self-deprecation, but I completely disagree. I don't mind putting myself (as in me, Felicia Hom, personally) down, but I do mind putting an entire culture down and putting down hard-working immigrants who probably have had the weight of the world on their shoulders. I'm not even the most politically correct person out there - but I can't take part in shitting on my own community.

The CAPE Gala! Photo by my dear friend Steven Lam!


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