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It Is Possible – A Step Forward for Asian Americans in Hollywood

As an avid film and TV fan, I cannot help but be aware of the news that’s coming out of the entertainment industry. I love all kinds of movies, but I think just like everyone else, comic book movies are just the most entertaining thing in the world. Sometimes it can be disappointing, but whenever the characters just clash together and start punching each other, you’re just satisfied with how entertaining it is. Maybe I’m a little biased, but I know the comic book fans out there will agree with what I’m saying. Moreover, I want nothing but representation for myself and my fellow Asian Americans. There is not enough of “us” in Hollywood, and I don’t think I can ever say that enough. It was unbelievably frustrating and disappointing to see Hawaii Five-0, one of the most fun series I’ve ever watched, lose two integral characters: Chin-Ho and Kono. I remember when I first discovered this show, I was super excited because out of four of the main characters, two of them are pure Asian Americans, not mixed, just Asian descents. But now they are leaving because they have been asking for a raise, rightfully so, because they have been paid 10-15% less of their white co-stars. You would think after #OscarsSoWhite, so many diversity controversies, or just the sheer fact that it’s 2017, Hollywood wouldn’t have this kind of pay issue anymore, but I guess, 7 seasons isn’t enough for a show to realize on-screen diversity should also translate to pay equality.

However! After all this rant and chaos, a little good, or perhaps progression, has come. Recently, Ed Skrein, a white British actor, is casted in the new film that’s adapted from the Hellboy comics. Shortly after this news was announced, people were outraged on social media, appropriately calling the film out for whitewashing the role. I don’t think I’m the first one, or last one, to mention how much Hollywood loves to whitewash Asian characters (Emma Stone in Aloha, Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell, Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange…and many more). But, Ed Skrein did something almost nobody ever had the balls to do: he stepped down from the role. I can’t even begin to talk about how monumental his action was. For an actor to quit the role out of respect for the character’s original heritage, especially an incredible role, maybe the best he’ll ever come across, is a remarkable and admirable thing. His action pushed Hollywood forward, and I’m so glad that he was brave enough to do so. And to make this even better, Daniel Dae Kim was cast for the role in this new Hellboy reboot. I’m overjoyed to see a fellow Hawaii Five-0 star, an Asian American, to take on a blockbuster film. That being said, the character was Japanese-American in the original Hellboy comics, and while I hope Hollywood can be more conscious about the different ethnicities in Asia, this whole thing just turned out to be an amazing step forward. We are now in a time where everything seems to be going ten steps back, a little step forward like this will never fail to make me smile.


Daniel Dae Kim, recently cast in the Hellboy reboot

Ed Skrein, who stepped down from the role because he couldn’t play the character in “a culturally accurate way.”

Photo taken from BBC News.


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Rosalyn Wang

UC Berkeley

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