Asian-American Actors Are Fighting for Visibility. They Will Not Be Ignored.

May 29, 2016 · 537 comments
Robert Chang (Lincoln, CA)
Related to this, is the music industry's shunning of Asian talents. Name one famous mainstream Asian pop-star or rock-star or rapper in the west. You can't, because the system makes sure they never get past the invisible ceiling of the indie market.

Even when extremely talented and attractive musical performers and artists who are already mega-stars in their own native countries (South Korea, Hong kong, Taiwan, Japan, etc., and who also have some fans in the west) try to enter the western market and release English albums or singles, they are mostly just ignored. Even as huge as K-Pop is globally, not a single K-Pop artist or group can break through that ceiling and attain any kind of real mainstream success.

It is only in the academic or non-mainstream circle of music that Asians are allowed to succeed (classical, jazz, new age, etc.), and it's not hard to see all of this has roots in how Asians have been portrayed in western media in the last century. No one associates Asians with the glamorous image of rock-stars and pop-stars because the western media has made sure Asians are only seen as the awkward nerds, the boring model citizen, the Yakuza/Chinese Triad, or the Kung Fu guy. When was the last time you saw Asians portrayed in mainstream western media as soulful, creative, romantic, desirable, and glamorous?
Mark (New York, NY)
What would be an example of an Asian rock star (or pop star or rapper) who would be a famous mainstream performer in the West, or who would be regarded as glamorous, if not for the portrayal of Asians in the ways you describe?
Judy Kushner (NYC)
According to the Woody Allen: “Not unless I write a story that requires it. You don’t hire people based on race. You hire people based on who is correct for the part. The implication is that I’m deliberately not hiring black actors, which is stupid. I cast only what’s right for the part. Race, friendship means nothing to me except who is right for the part.” How many good stories out there about Asian Americans?
malfeasance (New York)
This is an annoying and misguided article that repeatedly disproves its own point.

To begin with- it's not that minorities (or at least Asians, and one ubiquitous Indian Actor) are not cast in roles for the big and small screen. This is obvious by the choice the NYT made to put on the cover of its article. B.D. Wong has a long (long) resume of T.V. shows and movies to his credit. Aziz Ansari (a representative of the other supposedly notable minority here) has also been in movies and T.V. shows.

Mr. Wong, as I understand it, continues to be cast in movies and mainstream T.V. roles. This is probably because he is a good actor. He can create a character. He can project a depth into his roles that are believable. It probably has very little to do with the fact that he is Asian.

Mr Ansari has is own T.V. shows. The Times seems to have adopted Mr. Ansari as a symbol of the injustice of Hollywood casting. Does Mr. Ansari lack anything that Mr. Wong has? Ben Kingsley has parents of Indian descent...why isn't he on the cover of the Times to illustrate the injustice of "whitewashing" in Hollywood?

What are Mr. Ansari's talents? He certainly has had major exposure on a prime time television show. Could it be (possibly) that Aziz Ansari's "talents" consist mainly of grimacing and bulging out his eyes?

Any minority actor or actress that displays an ability to be entertaining will get hired for something, because they sell tickets/commercial time- just ask B.D. Wong.
Diana (Germany)
My grandfather had been a movie producer in old pre-war Shanghai, so I grew up knowing many acclaimed Chinese actors, who wound up in North America.

In 1965, the US immigration law enabled vast numbers of Asians to enter legally, including those who had been actors in their home countries. Back then I could understand why Hollywood directors didn't pick Asians for the few Asian leading roles that existed. There wasn't a large enough pool of Asian actors who spoke good English, except Hong Kong-born Nancy Kwan, who portrayed bar girl Suzie Wong and starred in the all-Asian cast of Flower Drum Song in the 1960s. These were singular, plum roles that made Kwan a star, but her career stalled. Japanese actress Miyoshi Umeki won an Oscar for Sayonara, but also faded into obscurity. Most other Hollywood roles for Asians were minor, forgettable and even demeaning stereotypes.

There's been progress with younger generations of Asians born in the US and Canada. What's changed is that Asians have now become a large enough minority to be visible in mainstream life. The ongoing practice of casting white actors made up to look Asian for Asian roles is scandalous, but why aren't more Asians being considered for mainstream roles? Sandra Oh was cast in the hit TV series Grey's Anatomy as a doctor, not as an Asian character. Now that's real progress: When North Americans who happen to look Asian are not confined to ethnic roles or the villain in action films, but play real people.
ken (usa)
How many are citizens of the USA. How many white actors are in Asian films?
Sivaram Pochiraju (Hyderabad, India)
This article is purely about the grievance of Asian - American actors regarding their representation in Hollywood.

I am rather puzzled that producers, financiers, directors and distributors of Hollywood movies don't understand the simple basics, which of course include economics that Hollywood movies are not restricted to white viewers only but have huge global market mainly India, China, Taiwan, Japan, both Koreas, Africa etc, which has people of all colour and accent. As such it's imperative upon the producers and others to give opportunity to only those actors purely based on the requirement of script and not mainly to white actors whatever may be the nature of character. Otherwise the characters look silly.
mt (trumbull, ct)
Not quite sure why non white actors don't understand that stories the audience relates to are what make money at the box office.
If you want a hollywood movie to appeal to large numbers of Asians, put alot of Asians it it. Whites want to see majority whites and their issues. Blacks want black stories, etc...

in general, whites don't go to see asian movies over white movies.Unless it's a movie about asians that has some novelty. It's the same in other countries. People go to see dramas depicting their own lives. They have to be able to relate. It's a business model. Whatever puts butts in seats. You can fill movies with non white actors but it will not draw the same audiences.
JS (New York, NY)
It's not just Hollywood's "whitewashing" of Japanese manga or even of films based on real live events (such as "21" which should have had an Asian-American ("AA") in the lead role instead of a white male and a Brit actor at that) - but even when script-writers in the rare cases actually write with an AA lead in mind (or two in the case of "Harold & Kumar"), Hollywood still tries to "whitewash."

The writers for H&K really had to fight the studio in changing one of the lead role from AA to white male (surprise!) as that would have totally ruined the subtext of the entire story/film.

Aside from the lack of leading roles (or even just main supporting roles), the problem is that the the majority of roles in Hollywood today are still that of minor, stereotypical roles - usually involving the use of an "Asian" accent.

Many AA actors can't speak the language of their Asian heritage and yet most AA actors have had to endure having to speak broken English.

This would be akin to African-American actors being primarily relegated to roles as African immigrants.

Conversely, we see a multitude of white actors from Britain, Australia, etc. - who end up playing white American characters (even superheroes), but AA actors are still largely relegated to playing foreigners or recent immigrants.
Mark (New York, NY)
Let these actors try to sway opinion to their advantage, but this is not a social justice issue. Nobody has the right to be popular. If audiences want to see Emma Stone, the studio has every right to cast her. Was Marlon Brando Italian? James Caan? Peter Falk?
San (Texas)
The fact is no one wanted to see Emma Stone in tthat movie. It was a box office bomb. But I'm sure she will have many more opportunities.
Brooklyn Traveler (Brooklyn)
Does anybody do any research?

Lucy Liu had a big role in Ally McBeal in the late 90's and then Charlie's Angels.
BobR (Wyomissing)
Actually, they WILL be ignored by many!

The reasons are multiple and (since I know there will be howling) have nothing to do with race or ethnicity.
SP (Los Angeles, CA)
Hollywood is very risk-averse. That's why every movie today is either a sequel of an earlier movie that was successful, or an action hero movie, or a sequel of an action hero movie. Those are the easy money-makers. So the challenge is to convince those folks that an Asian-American movie lead will produce the box office receipts/digital subscription fees (nevermind that many of the so-called white superstars frequently bomb at the box office). Obviously it's a chicken and egg problem, as you need to demonstrate success, but to do that you need to first have a chance to do so (before you have even become a success). I think the idea of Asian-Americans producing their own shows/films is an excellent launching point. Aziz Ansari is now basically a household name, he's found the way to break through.
Ben (Brooklyn, NY)
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" will feature several Asian actors. Riz Ahmed of Pakistani descent with Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen from China.
Jim (Phoenix)
The complain itself is biased. If non-Asians can't play Asian parts, then shouldn't this principle be applied evenhandedly. Shouldn't there be complaints that in Hamilton, a Nigerian is playing the Irish tailor-spy Hercules Mulligan, completely blurring one of the most significant fault lines in early American history, eg, the divide between the Anlgos their oppressed Celts.
Burkley Myles (Reno, Nevada)
Hollywood is so two faced. They would rather hire some white actor "with known box office juice" to play an Asian character in a film than hire a capable Asian actor. This happens despite the facts that many of the while actors with box office juice has been in some real stinker movies that few people paid to see.
Expat (London)
No, they are not being two-faced. All their decision-making process is based on one thing -- money! And it trumps everything.
mj (michigan)
What a shame you didn't mention the incomparable Hoon Lee who has starred as Job in the last four seasons of Banshee. His character was nothing short of brilliant.
Javadba (Mountain View, CA)
Minorities vastly underrepresented? *Which* minorities? Asians - the subject of this article - would seem to be true and I had wondered myself about that. But African Americans? They have a stronger representation than their proportion of the overall population.
bozicek (new york)
On Hollywood, the Left has never understood that it's a business, not a PC-oriented entity. The major U.S. studios make 80% of their revenues in foreign markets, but to the American Left's dismay, there's been nary a call in those overseas markets for more diverse casts. Why is that, I wonder?

But for the blacks, Asians, and Latinos objecting to the current paradigm in Hollywood, I suggest they pool their resources (Will Smith, Jackie Chang and Salma Hayek could easily raise $200 million together) for a new production company prominently featuring minorities in leading roles. It's easy to criticize, but it's tougher to put one's money where one's mouth is. But good luck, gang.
steve (hawaii)
My grandmother had a bit role in "The Joy Luck Club" and I got to hang out on the set a bit. Someone on the crew told me that one of the initial reactions when the movie was pitched was "Does it have to have so many Asians in it?"
Once the film was finished, I expected a reasonable marketing campaign for it, especially since I was living in the Bay Area at the time. There was hardly anything--I was told that it was being promoted "word of mouth." I tracked the film for many months--though being screened at few theaters, it continued to draw extremely well around the country.
So it's not just putting actors on screen. It's the willingness to promote a project with Asian-Americans, which the studios don't seem willing to do. Our experiences don't seem to exist to them.
AChantal (NYC)
I adore the actress Constance Wu. When I watched the Oscars this past year and was disturbed by the joke of three Asian kids being trotted out on the stage to a Chris Rock joke about accountants, it took reading her tweet in the NYTimes article about the disparagement to help me understand what was so wrong. Therefore, you can understand my surprise when in the finale to this year's "Fresh Off the Boat", the series she stars in, there is a bit about her son Eddie wanting to see a Chris Rock HBO special in 1995 and him saying "that Rock made no racist jokes about Asians in the special. Was this to say that Rock's humor in 1995 was less racist than it is in 2016? I was somewhat confused by the juxtaposition.
Sandip Shah (California, USA)
Is it by accident or intention that names of Kal Penn and Kunal Nayyar are missing in this article? Kal has had many leading roles and Kunal Nayyar is playing leading but stereotypical role in hugely successful "The Big Bang Theory". Kunal, in particular, is a shining exception to so called "WhiteWashing", is that why his opinion wasn't sought?
Dan Myers (NYC)
Sometimes a banana is just a banana. Perhaps they were unavailable?
Nuschler (anywhere near a marina)
As a kama’aina (long-time resident) from Hawai’i I feel most comfortable when I am with folks of Asian descent. I grew up with classmates then had as colleagues and friends people whose distant ancestors were Okinawan, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Chinese and so on.

We were all American, and more we shared Hawai’i’s culture of laid back friendship. Now that I am here on the mainland of the USA I feel lost! I actively seek out ANYONE who isn’t white...and I’m white--but only when I look in a mirror. I now have a Cambodian pharmacist, I found an Asian grocery store, and REAL Asian restaurants.

In Hawai’i with the filming of Hawai’i Five-0, we were disappointed that Daniel Dae Kim--our FAVORITE actor here-as he looks like most of us was given the role of the guy who does the computer searches with the latest tech gadgets...are you kidding me?? Or the show has a nerdy Asian medical examiner (looks and sounds like Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.) But the main action performers are two white guys and a black cop from Chicago. The soul less villains are ALL Asian--real cartoon characters. The show is NOT liked in Hawai’i so I guess they had

So I don’t get this stereotyping and discrimination. They all seem more American to me that ALL the white people I have met here in the South.

When I miss Hawai’i I miss her people--mostly Asian, just plain good people...and BTW have you see Kim with his shirt off? That reminds me of every good surf day.
Larry (Michigan)
Why do white people always think you are caterwauling if you mention an injustice. The argument is always made by these people, why are you upset, others are in the same position. The wrong still needs to be corrected and not just for us but for all people who have been stereotyped in movies written and directed by whites. Start your own distribution companies, compete with whites. They have no right to decide who can be in movies for the next hundred years. You decide,give them competition!
Tammy (New Jersey)
I am an Asian-American actress. I was born and raised in America and am not bilingual. I find it ironic that because I'm not bilingual that many times I am excluded. In many roles that exist for Asian actors, you are primarily there to "play Asian" by speaking a foreign language or you must have an accent because you are mere scaffolding to represent the writer's stereotype of that immigrant and you are generally not as fleshed-out as the other characters (mostly all the lead characters). Your main purpose for existing is to convey the creator’s stereotype of that character's race. I often notice in character breakdowns that characters that must speak a foreign language or have an accent have virtually no personality description, all that is noted is that you must speak the foreign language, however in the same project all the characters that are white have a bit more detailed personality descriptions because the writer, director and casting directors are looking at them as real people and not just scaffolding. My favorite auditions are roles that don't specify the character's race and when I book the job I know it's because I simply brought something to the role that was needed. Those are the best gigs!
Joel Kincaid (Rochester)
Master-of-None was so funny and touching. I want more of that and more of the American openness that brings others to our country to grapple and struggle with all of the (ironically) close-minded. The nature of immigration is one of alienation and integration -- cut these folks some slack, but even if we welcomed all with truly open arms, many would feel alone. That's the nature of the beast, and the artists discussed in this article mine that strangeness for our appreciation and entertainment. Props to them and their parents.
Stephanie Seto (Toronto, Ontario - Canada)
Growing up, I was very interested in acting, singing and dancing. My parents encouraged me to be artistic so I joined every performance group in town and at school. I had talent but I never felt confident enough to try-out for lead roles because they were always type-casted. If there was more representation of lead-Chinese characters on stage and on screen, I would have felt less "out-of-place". I later went to school for Media Production so that I could represent Chinese-Canadians and potentially create a platform for other Canadian born Chinese. If you think being an American-Chinese person in the entertainment world is difficult, multiply that by 100 as a Canadian. There are very little opportunities for Chinese Canadian's.
Shay (Canada)
If Hollywood doesn't want to put Asians in movies, why make movies about Asians or take from Asian source material like anime? Doesn't make sense to me. But yet they want it both ways.
Phillip (NY)
The problem is not limited to acting. Asian suffer from a lack of opportunity and visibility in many other areas of popular culture from sports (Jeremy Lin can tell you!) and pop music to comic superheroes and xxxx. And this is to say nothing about society in general... Where are the Asian politicians and activists?
Unfortunately a lot of this has to do with numbers. We must increase the Asian population in this country before we will see real change.
Course V (MA)
I am one of the millions of Americans who is addicted to Korean dramas. If Hollywood would open its eyes to the incredible popularity of this genre, they would realize that the viewers have no problem with Asian leading men and women. It seems like they are now pigeonholed into comedy.
Bruno (Washington, D.C.)
Call me old fashioned, but just a reminder... movies and television shows are not real. If you do not watch them, they have no influence on you at all. Better to look at the real world, and the people in it. I am tired of the hype surrounding movies and television.
CityBumpkin (Earth)
A lot of the people denigrating this movement among actors of Asian descent are letting their own race-obsession show. They seem to presume that this is all about people wanting to see people of their own race on the silver screen.

Actors of Asian descent are starting to find mainstream commercial success, and are being cast in non-stereotype roles. That commercial success can't just be explained by Asian-Americans paying to see them. Nor can it be explained by foreign markets. Many of these successes, especially TV, are primarily consumed by domestic audiences. Besides, anybody who knows anything about pop culture in Japan or China knows those audiences would rather see Ben Affleck over John Cho any day of the week.

What the trend shows, and what Hollywood is finally starting to appreciate, is that more and more Americans like the idea of an modern American movie that looks like modern America. Modern America is not monochrome, and I think a lot of people, especially young people, get that.
Josie R. (Arcadia, CA)
As an Asian-American in Hollywood, I've seen firsthand how we're overshadowed, but much of it is the way the media ignores or even suppresses Asian-American achievements in general. Ex.: I grew up in Long Island, near the same H.S. Natalie Portman attended (Syosset). The valedictorian in Natalie's class (1999) was Asian-American, as were most National Merit Scholars and other high achievers. Yet outside local media, the press later shoved aside the real valedictorian, sloppily claiming it was Natalie (she was not). I respect her and think she's a wonderful actress, but the publicists and media were so gung-ho to paint her as the "wholesome alternative" to other boorish actresses that they misrepresented her record to put down her high-achieving Asian classmates.

Likewise many of them, despite coming from far less privileged backgrounds, also attended ivy League or other top schools. Many graduated with cum laude or other top honors (which Portman did not and to her credit never claimed, even though fawning publicity later did), many going into entertainment as well. Some did innovative scientific work at Syosset and were science fair finalists, writing it up in top research journals (Natalie's project was written in a chem education journal, not for new research, and was good but not finalist level).

The pattern is familiar by now: too much of the media cares little for Asian-American achievements. Particularly when a pretty face, esp. white and privileged, is available.
michael (new york)
That isn't a good example... everyone gets shoved aside for celebrity achievements
vernekar (Los Angeles)
Funny how Hollywood Liberals are very easy to call other groups, the Tea Party etc. as racists, yet they end up being the biggest racists themselves. Kind of sad and wretched.
CityBumpkin (Earth)
A lot of Hollywood racism (and perhaps racism in mainstream America) toward Asian-Americans is encapsulated in controversy surrounding Chris Rock's Oscar joke.

For me, it wasn't the joke itself that was the most offensive, but Chris Rock's defensive comments about it afterwards. Chris Rock said, "“If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids."

Many smart phones are made in China, but those kids were not Chinese sweat-shop laborers. They were American kids growing up in Southern California. Imagine if someone, after cracking a racist joke about black Americans, to come up with a defensive comment about, "oh, yeah? Well, how many of you did anything to help African children being enslaved by Boko Haram?" Would that comment even make any sense?

Chris Rock's response reveals a fundamental aspect about racism against Asian-Americans. It doesn't matter how long they have been here, whether they were born here, or how many of their ancestors had lived here. Asian-Americans are perceived as not real Americans. They look foreign, so they are foreign.

Hence, you see Asian-American actors mostly relegated to stereotyped, one-dimensional roles in American movies. It's no surprise, then, that it's so rare for Hollywood to give the role of a normal, fleshed-out character to an actor of Asian descent.
Avina (NYC)
" Asian-Americans are perceived as not real Americans. They look foreign, so they are foreign."

Asians themselves also internalize this message. I often hear Asian women referring to their 'American' husbands, and these men are never of Asian descent, but always white. Clearly in their minds, only white men (or else African American men) are 'American'. Anyone of Asian descent is still 'Asian' in their minds. This is likely also why many Asian women would prefer to marry a recently-naturalized American white man from Bosnia, before they would marry a 3rd generation Asian-American's all about perception, and wanting to be seen as a part of the white American establishment.
Lady Scorpio (Mother Earth)
I didn't watch the most recent Oscar broadcast. I stopped watching some years ago for a number of different reasons. After reading your comment, I've got no regrets or any sense of loss.

[email protected]:08
JS (New York, NY)
Yes, even in Rock's Oscar joke - Asian-Americans were relegated to being the "perpetual foreigner."

Imagine of a comic had made a joke about African-Americans using Africa as the basis.
William Case (Texas)
Asians actors and black actors are more frequently cast in roles originally written for Caucasians than Caucasians actors are cast in roles originally written for Asians or blacks.
AmateurHistorian (NYC)
That's only true for blacks. Many Asian roles were given to white and blacks because Asian cannot be seen as love interest even if the original comics or story states the role is Asian.
Lady Scorpio (Mother Earth)
@William Case,
For example, please?

[email protected]:12 pm
ida (Poughkeepsie)
If the default for roles written America is Caucasian, what does your comment imply?
Jon Smith (New York)
I think this issue has been around for a while and is bigger than Asians and African-Americans. It's the idea that the "white" experience is the only experience and the only one everyone should focus on. Personally, I have begun to stop watching any movie or television show that does not show people of color in more than a support the white lead role. I think people of color need to band together and boycott or better yet create, distribute, and support the telling of our own stories. Hollywood will not change until you hit them in the pocketbook.
W Smith (NYC)
If Dr. Strange had a Tibetan mystic, it would be so cliche that it would criticised as orientalism and fetishism. Any Tibetan shown on screen is either a transcendental martial arts monk or dead under a Chinese jackboot. A Celtic mystic is, finally, something new. Usually it's people of colour who are the mystics to exoticize them. This is a good and healthy change to have white people also being capable of mysticism.
But Captain America Civil War without any Asian superheroes is just ridiculous.
cb (mn)
All the childlike incessant blather about non whites wanting to be included in white film (white culture) entirely misses the point. Each distinct ethnic/racial group culture needs to create their own film platform, i.e., Bollywood is an excellent example. This is only natural, understandable, inasmuch as different cultures have little in common with each other. This is neither good or bad. It's just the way the world always has been, always will be. It's also known as reality..
Bruce Chen (Honolulu)
Excuse me, isn't the film industry selling it's product to the entire society, not just "white culture". The point is that Asian-Americans are part of the same cultural fabric in America as peoples of European descent. We are not a separate society (or does "Brown vs. Board of Education" have to reinterated for film). We are doctors, engineers, teachers, factory workers, and ... yes.. actors in America. We are not invisible in society, so why should we be invisible in the entertainment industry's representation of society.
Reed (PA)
Are they not Americans? We cannot have every race create their own "platform," because that misses the point of uniting cultures and people together to simulate everyday life. Not to mention that I doubt dystopian films— i.e. events that haven't happened yet— are strictly "white culture." Separation of people of different races is just not something that happens in everyday life, especially in our modern world, so why should that happen in media?
karystrance (Hoboken, NJ)
Nobody is stopping them from making their own movies. The film industry doesn't work the same way that teaching, sanitation or police do. It's not a job market that takes 60 percent of this group, 12 percent of that group, etc. People get parts according to how many people will pay to see them. Like it or not, America is 75 percent white, and most of those people want to imagine themselves as the white person on the screen when they pay their $13.
jo (dc)
It seems incredibly sorry sighted of the studios to not include Asian Americans in bigger roles given how US theater attendance is dropping like a stone and the growth markets are in China and India. "Because Americans don't care" doesn't cut it in today's global economy.
Larry Chavana (New York)
Exclusivity for all is important. The younger generation needs to understand how many different nationalities, images, and industries there are all around the world. We live in a generation where acceptance is becoming much more acceptable and that Hollywood is not just exclusive to one demographic.
Gothamite (New York, NY)
It always troubled me how asians are depicted in films and TV in general. I use what I call "the black test." If Emma Stone's character was supposed to be black in the film and it was about black culture, would people be OK with that? What about Ken Jeong in The Hangover, who essentially plays an asian Sambo? If it were an over the top caricature of a black man in that film, would we still think it was OK? It's time that people start treating all people the same--with respect for different cultures and dignity for all humans. And guess what Hollywood? For the first time there are more non-white births in America than white. It's time to finally change.
Connie (Texas)
If someone was playing Me in a movie, I would want that person to be White. I am white, not black, not Asian, not an Indian. And so it should be. I believe Culture is an important part of a movie to strengthen the characters views, attitudes and actions. That is real ! Just like theseeing Asians are acting out. The Blacks did the same. I am Hungarian but I do not need to enforce that issue. I am an American and that is enough for me. I am Free, doing my thing, loving my country and doing whatever I can to help make it great.
Dan Myers (NYC)
Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but you know all those people you see on the movie screen? Yeah. So most of them are completely made-up and based on no one. The filmmakers actually get to invent their back stories and can either cast their film or tv projects with a diverse cast (thus reflecting America) or a merely white cast (thus portraying a world that doesn't really exist).
Student (New York, NY)
Asian. Exotic. Inscrutable. Foreign. Other.
The problem runs much deeper than Hollywood.
Despite academic success and model minority status, people of Asian descent have not been successful in being viewed as "real" Americans.
American born, but ethnically Chinese, I am frequently asked where I am from. Not so long ago, it was not uncommon for people to praise my facility with English.
The perception of otherness is the consequence of a number of historical and some cultural factors. And of course, "Asian" is a very broad term. But for the Chinese, some of these factors range from cultural values to the existence of Chinatowns. Yes, it feels like a foreign country in Chinatown but what many people don't realize is that it is not really a stable community. Immigrants come, their kids move out and very different immigrants take their place. But the existence of such places helps to maintain a perception of otherness.
Bottom line. It's nice to have some hard workers in your employ but for the big stuff, you are going to want to hire a "bro". You want to see one on TV. We don't want to see people who seem alien or foreign. We don't really want to have meetings with them or to work intimately with them. We expect that we won't relate. This is the problem. Look, the white guy or the black guy don't have to explain that they are Americans, but the Chinese guy, New York born and bred, he does. He even has to explain why his accent is Nu Yawk and not New Territories.
Jamie F (New York)
Marco Polo is an awesome show that has mostly Asian actors. Why don't they talk about that? Not to say it's the end of the problem, but it's a largely ignored piece of the solution.
Jon Smith (New York)
Now, name another one?
NYHUGUENOT (Charlotte, NC)
Wasn't the Chinese detective Charlie Chan played by White actors. I remember one was Warner Oland.
On the other hand when Japanese WW2 prison camp commanders were needed Hollywood could find S I Hayakawa available any time. He later became a congressman.
Benedict (Boston/NYC)
As soon as films/tv shows starring Asians and Asian-Americans start making substantial amounts of money, we'll see more of those populations depicted in them. It's as simple as that.
Avina (NYC)
What do you consider 'substantial' amounts of money? There are plenty of white-centric movies and shows out there that are total garbage, and are either cancelled after one season, or are box office flops compared to the big-name movies. Yet somehow these movies made it from simple concept, to the TV/film screen. Surely Asian-centric films should be able to do the same. I don't think it's that Asian-centric TV/film in and of themselves aren't of sufficient interest to the general viewing public in the U.S., but that we simply haven't been exposed to enough of it, and enough variety, to find something for all or most of us.
Vanamali Thotapalli (chicago, il)
That's funny - if they are not going to get any breaks how are they going to have successful movies or tv shows? Putting the cart before the horse, aren't you?
Basically these are not Asians - they are Americans and they are asking why they are being discriminated, that's the point here
Gregory (nyc)
So write some stories , start a production company and produce the material the world is missing out on. I went to India and China and could only get demeaning parts as a brash American guy.
Connie (Texas)
See, we are no different than any other country. They are Not going to film an all American cast. So how is that any different than Here? Thank You Gregory for your comment. If you have to Repeat it Please Do.
San (Texas)
These actors don't live in India or China. They live here in America. They are Americans who want to participate in their country's culture.
Here's a tip for you, white is not a national identity unless you're a white supremacist.
Winthrop Staples (Newbury Park, CA)
Obviously what we need is for our government to inflict racial quotas on the film industry just like they do race and gender quotas on federal government agencies in order to get "rainbow" diversity that our clueless moral leper politicians can brag about in order to distract us from their latest treason against the common interest. I mean who cares if the film audience who is mostly some other race or ethnicity identifies with the characters and goes to the movies or not? If our government does not have to actually achieve any of its goals or do its job to continue to exist why should the film industry or any of us care if it goes bankrupt or not? And while we are at it why don't we boycott all made in China products because China's films don't have some large percentage of Europeans who are other than bad guys. And then what about the absolute censorship of Hollywood films against depicting modern China or Chinese people as negative in any way. That's massively discriminatory, violates the 1st Amendment, essentially allows the one party dictatorship Red Nobility that has murdered 50 million Chinese to stay in power due to little or no criticism. But never mind about the math, what causes the most suffering in the world Its much more fun and makes our holier than thou media elites feel superior to call white people racists, xenophobes, intolerant, disturbing - while they at the same time believe that the majority of ALL humans are little better than animal ignorant mobs.
Connie (Texas)
Winthrop, that was magnificent! But will anyone understand it?
Michael F (Yonkers, NY)
I hope all of you will join me in condemming the use of Marlon Brando in the Godfather. He wasn't Italian, never mind Sicilian.
Edward K (San Francisco, CA)
Not the same. It's one thing to have white people playing other white people, but not the same when a person with entirely different characteristics is substituted or replaced. The only equivalent to your example would be casting Michelle Yeoh and Zhang ZiYi in Memoirs of a Geisha but no one really cared.
Michael F (Yonkers, NY)
Sorry Edward I am allowed to be pseudo offended also.
Michael F (Yonkers, NY)
Why is appelattion Asian even used. It is a continent not a culture. There is nothing at all similar between Indians and Japanese. Why do they need a box and why this box. Do I start refering to myself as North American American?
gillian-b40 (NY)
Not North American but more likely "European" which I have seen in other venues when describing caucasians (which BTW originated in the Caucasus Mountain region of Eur-Asia).
AJ (Noo Yawk)
To Prof. Sigrid Gottfredsen: What ill taken umbrage!

The article is about how a white dominated Hollywood "white's out" Asian-American actors.

The fact is that the whites who dominate Hollywood, largely shut out those who are not white. Perhaps you missed the uproar over the lack of minority nominations for the Academy Awards.

What possible quibble could you have with such accurate depiction? Who is saying that all whites are racists? You are imagining quite a bit, and entirely missing the point.
localboy (Nashville)
Or...getting the point, and swerving onto a new course.
Frank Underwood (Washington, DC)
I completely agree -- and while we are at it, can we please do something about the "Asian" restaurants in this country?
David Henderson (Manchester CT)
Why does this story not include Nayyar from Big Bang? He's more famous than any of these people, but there seems to be some jealously of his success.
Ian Ferry (New York)
Right. More successful than BD Wong? You're out of your mind.
Andrew Woo (California)
I find it hilariously ironic that people think that it's "racist" that Asian characters from anime and manga are being changed to White, when the original author's decision to make those characters Asian is equally "racist." Anime and manga cater toward the demographic of consumers of that content, which is predominantly Asian. So the characters are Asian. The Hollywood adaption is trying to cater toward a wider demographic across America, which is predominantly White. So the characters are White.
All this outrage over casting decisions focuses on the "supply" side of the market when the "demand" side is equally, if not more, at fault. If anything, the changes made to Ghost in the Shell and Death Note show that the supply side is race-neutral--the content producers simply create what the demand side desires. The free market is beautifully democratic, with consumers voting with their wallets. One consequence of any democracy is that the majority wins, which is exactly what is happening here.
Vanamali Thotapalli (chicago, il)
How about religion? 99% Christianity is shown and just a bit of Judaism but that's about it. In the recent Matt Damon movie, the Martian - the original story had a Hindu Scientist named Venkat? In the movie, he changes to a Christian-Hindu with a christian first name. The movie-makers found this scientist being a Hindu with a Hindu name a problem that they had to address?
In the movie, Gandhi, Gandhiji's dying words were changed to "Oh, God" - his actual words were, "Hey, Ram" - a Hindu crying out to his God was not allowed. Glad at least they let the Hindus in the movie keep their Hindu names - Gandhiji was not renamed Handsome Gandhi, as they did with many a chinese character in their movies - these people did not even have real names - Flying Sword, White Flower etc
In India, way back in the 50's a movie titled "Missamma" came out, in that the heroine, a Christian, sings a christian devotional song - you can check it out here -
In another movie song, a Hindu, sitting in a Temple, starts a devotional song with the words, "God, your name is Allah" - you can check that out here -
Indian movies are full of imagery of quite a few religions besides Hinduism
And here in the year 2016, a totally different story
Don't go to see Hollywood movies if you want a wider perspective of the world
Expat (London)
Seriously man, where is all this whining going to end? All of you are refusing to acknowledge that Hollywood is situated in a country that is predominantly white and Christen, so yeah, they are going to make films that suit them, no?
If you don't like the stuff they spew out, why not make your own films -- there are plenty of Black and Asian American millionaires who you can tap up for funding.
At the end of the day, it is all just movies, no one is saving lives or discovering new things that will benefit human kind's future. Yes, it's a multi-billion dollar industry but should we not be more concerned about enough representation in judiciary, policy making, law enforcement, academia and business leadership? These are far more important things that will make more difference to our lives.
-- Ex-pat American (non-white man).
Vanamali Thotapalli (chicago, il)
Basically this is about Jobs - if you are told that you are not eligible for a job or a promotion because you are Asian, would you say you should go ahead and start your own company? Want to try find some of those Asian Millionaires that will fund your company, that you so flippantly advice?
These actors are seeking jobs - take the show Friends for eg - all 6 main characters were white - naturally these people need parents, uncles, relatives - but all these "bit" parts will go to whites also. The show even limited boyfriends and girlfriends to whites! The girl who played the ditsy girl was quite lucky for her co-stars - the actors who played her father, brother went to have successful movie & TV careers
Or take the show - The Big Bang Theory - the one Indian on the show has opened the door for other Asians - an actor playing his girlfriend, sister in one or a few episodes can put it on her resume - get a job, have a career
As immigrants we tend to keep our heads down and not speak up, condemning ourselves to a 2nd class status - don't do that to your children
Lady Scorpio (Mother Earth)
@Vanamali Thotapalli,
I think you made your point quite brilliantly; ditto with your reply. With Expat, willful ignorance or something?

[email protected]:31 pm
Erika (Atlanta, GA)
I find it so interesting that whenever there is a NYT story about Asian-Americans and their fight for recognition - whether it's this excellent story, a story about NBA player Jeremy Lin, or an op-doc about Asian-American views on race - many white people (yes, a few Asian/Asian-American people but clearly most of them are white, you aren't fooling anybody) cannot wait to opine that black people are to blame for Asian-Americans not getting enough attention. And surprise surprise, those are usually the tippy-top comments instead of the insightful comments from the Asian-Americans themselves.

Well, as commenter Eo writes so incisively on these comments: "Do NOT try to divide us minorities. What Chris Rock did was wrong and he should apologize, but he has no power. He is not the one replacing all the Asian faces with white ones. To make the horrendous statement that blacks are overly aggrieved at the expense of other minorities is racist. Black Americans should stand up for their rights against white supremacy, as should Asian American, [email protected] Americans and Native Americans and we should be doing so collectively."

I repeat: Y'all aren't fooling anybody - except perhaps yourselves.
Michael F (Yonkers, NY)
Ok, but I better not see any asian actors doing Shakespeare. Or they could just be actors and realize that all the other stuff is kerfuffle.
JustinClark87 (NJ)
That is... if Asian American actors even get invited to audition for the part. Skill and talent mean nothing if you are never considered to audition. That's the issue you are missing.
Connie (Texas)
No Justin. He is not missing the point. Only stating the Obvious: Shakespeare is ENGLISH ,period ! I don't care how good you are. You either Fit the Part or you Don't.
Expat (London)
Shakespeare was an English writer. Many of his plays have non-English protagonists and many take place outside of England. You may argue the roles are mostly European yet I have seen a British Black actor play Hamlet (a Dane), excellent he was too. There is also a Japanese film (naturally with all Japanese cast) adapted from Macbeth, that too was excellent. The ethnicity of the cast did not detract anything from the plays. So in theory, any part in any play, or movie for that matter, could be made to fit an actor regardless of his/her ethnicity if you really want to.
bill thompson (new jersey)
Why do these actors care so much what white producers, writers, directors and audiences think?
If these people had any true belief in their self-worth as individuals (or as representatives of their aggrieved sub-cultures) they never would have gone into acting, which is a sad collection of insecure narcissists.
The best life example they could set would be to just go live your life without having to seek your approval in the eyes of others. I have more respect and admiration for most any modest working-class or middle-class individual than the vain glory-seekers who populate the entertainment industry.
Why derive your feelings of self-worth and accomplishment from others' approvals?
Vanamali Thotapalli (chicago, il)
This is about jobs, following your dreams and making a living, these are Americans but because they look a little different they are being discriminated - that's the issue here
Reed (PA)
Why should they have lesser opportunities because of their skin, sir? You can think the film industry as vain a profession as you wish, but other people should be able to make their own decisions about how they wish to pursue a career. I implore you not to take a "don't worry, it's not all that good anyway" approach, but instead try to understand how condescending it is to say that one person can pursue a certain profession while another cannot. Opportunity makes a difference.
Cheekos (South Florida)
Inn America, TV audiences are always clamoring for something new and different. All in the Family showed a working man from Queens, NYC, who mirrored the bigotry and racism of everyday people. Th e Bill Cosby Show (how ironic now) pointed-out that a black family can be educated, successful and just like many of us. Bailly Crystal was a homosexual in "Soap", pointing-out the gate and lesbians are also like us, something that a majority of Americans have only recently comer to accept.

So, just like "Que Pada, USA" presented our Latino neighbors and co-workers, "Fresh Off the Boat" just reveals one more face of America. Hey bye the way, just think of which race supplied much of the manpower that built our transcontinental railroads. Hew, maybe Native Americans will be up next!
Erica (Brooklyn, NY)
I would love to see a really good movie about the Chinese experience in America. Start with one about the largest peacetime mass race murder in our history--the 1887 lynching of over 30 Chinese gold miners in Hells Canyon, Idaho, and the white lawman who went undercover to bring the killers to justice.
doy1 (NYC)
I would love to see that! But instead of the limited format of a movie, I think it needs to be a TV mini-series, similar to Roots, which can take a long view.

Also, if it were a Hollywood movie, it would inevitably focus on the white lawman as the hero, as in "The Last Samurai."

- and thanks for telling us about the mass lynching - a horrific event that like so many other parts of our history, is hidden and unspoken.
Erica (Brooklyn, NY)
The best treatment by far is a recent historical novel, "Deep Creek;" it vividly reimagines the Snake River killings and the ensuing quest for justice--which ended (surprise) in the quick acquittal of all defendants by an all-white, all-male jury. The novel is memorable because it not only honors the history but shows how the Chinese of the time fought back, in criminal investigations and in the courts, and also ties the suffering of the miners to the other great silenced story of the region, the Nez Perce War.
Kim Gosney (Alaska)
It's time for something to happen! Hollywood is boring, white, formulaic, and just limited in their thinking.
stone (Brooklyn)
I haven't seen many films made outside of the United States so I am curious if the movies made in Europe are any different as far as having actors who are not white in them.
I assume that what happens in the USA happens there as well.
If I am correct then the Times is making a issue that should not be limited just to the USA.
Meh (east coast)
Overall, yes, in at least British films the characters reflect much more diversity and their race is never even mentioned. They just are - friends, neighbors, coworkers, bosses, etc. in those films.
Expat (London)
Europe is predominantly (so far) white/Christian as the US is -- so probably no different. For your info, the largest amount of films are produced in China (Hong Kong) and India.
stone (Brooklyn)
England is exception to the rule because England had colonies so these is a history of diversity in a way you don't have in the USA,
These Asians are not seen as immigrants so are more accepted as individuals and do not separate themselves from the white community.
This did not happen in the USA.
It is happening now but I remember when I was young the Chinese did not dress or act like the rest of us.
I believe with time we will be where the English are now.
I say this because when this happens I believe more actors who look Asian will be hired in the USA.
BJS (Glen Burnie MD)
what's particularly galling is that ethnically Asian actor/actresses are having a hard time even landing parts that are associated with "Asian" characters, as opposed to, you know, human beings in general. Shows like "Fresh Off the Boat" are great and all, but by explicitly focusing on Asian-ness as a theme, they actually may end up limiting the opportunities these actor/resses get to land more interesting (and ethnically neutral) roles in the future.

So what is really needed is more attention to movies like "Everything Before Us", that pay literally no attention to the ethnic identity of the actor/resses and thereby give them a chance just to be real people, as opposed to cartoons: it was nice, for example, to see Randall Park in "Everything Before Us" not playing a clown like in "Interview" or "Fresh Off the Boat". Aziz Ansari has made commendable efforts in that direction as well, both with his "Master of None" series and his brilliant development of the utterly non-Asian "Tom Haverford" persona from The Office.
Dion (Washington, UT)
Hollywood will never change unless they experience a financial drop in their revenue so its best to develop a group of investors to create a company which can make movies based on their real life characters and cultures. One of the most featured TV shows was "KUNG FU" which had quite a variety of asian american actors and actresses although the lead actor was caucasian. As for a movie "The Joy Luck Club" comes to mind which portrayed many asian american and also asian nationals in that story. But getting back to point - Hollywood has its head int he ground and will always recirculate their actors and actresses which they favor. I mean look at the Academy Awards and not one black person got an award? Seems to me the deck is stacked no matter which way you slice and dice it with any minority actor regardless of race, creed, religion or culture. The best course is to boycott them and vote with your wallet.
Diana (Hauppauge, NY)
I stopped watching Two Broke Girls because I couldn't stand watching the bullying of Mathew Moy's character, Han Lee. He is the butt of every joke: his size, his name; his (non) prowess. Mathew, quit the show! And Kat and Beth, really? Aren't you troubled by your scripts????
Kari (NY, NY)
As posted this on FB on 5/25/16 in the morning hours: As a Filipina American Doctoral student, my field of study focuses on AA's. There are approximately 24 Asian subgroups. We are an invisible minority not only in the film industry but in many other areas: healthcare recipients (particularly mental health), politics, (higher) education, and so on. While this article is a start, much more needs to be done. Perhaps AA actors can join advocacy groups and politicians in promoting racial and social justice for AA's.
George (New York, NY)
Interesting that Asiz Ansari and Mindy Kaling are lumped in with Asian-Americans in this article..Isn't that racist? and why isn't Hollywood speaking out? Shouldn't Tilda Swinton and Emma Stone be refusing these parts and supporting their colleagues in this fight? Another case of the far left approach i.e., "do as I say, not as I do", "i'm in favor of equality as long as it doesnt hurt me..." So disingenuous...
Caffeinated Yogini (Midwest)
You're joking, right? Check a map or even Wikipedia. India is in South Asia.
JustinClark87 (NJ)
No, it's not. Why wouldn't they? They are Asian-American. Just so you know. India... is in Asia.
Gaijin (desert southwest)
Asia is a region. Many ethnicities of people with different genotypes live in parts of Asia, however people in India are not the same as people in say China, Korea, Japan. Their genotype is Caucasiod. People of Caucasiod genotype have many skin colors and span from Northern Europe to the Middle East, North Africa, India, etc. Then as we blend across regions we mix. We are all mixed. What is puzzling is why people use "whites" because no one is actually white in color, and why Asians would call themselves "people of color" as they are also lighter skinned. It's all Melatonin in the skin and many ethnicities can tan or vary in shades.

In ANIME and Manga many characters have Japanese names but are drawn with European looks and physical characteristics. If anyone doesn't like it, protest to Japanese artists to make all their characters look definitively Japanese. In Bleach Ichigo is a redhead, his name also can mean Strawberry. So making the film in the US, who would you cast as Ichigo? That's just Manga, the characters look many different ways.

I lived in Japan and love far East Asia. I love to see actors on TV and in movies. So we need backers to make more media with those ethnicities. Don't wait on Hollywood, go for it.
Cullen (Kerhonkson)
“The harsh reality of being an actor is that it’s hard to make a living, and that puts actors of (ANY) color in a very difficult position,” said Daniel Dae Kim, who stars in “Hawaii Five-0” on CBS and is currently appearing in “The King and I” on Broadway.
JustinClark87 (NJ)
It's more a comment on the career of an actor. While Mr Kim may get paid well for this gig, he's referring the the 99% of other actors struggling to get work (not just Asian-American). A struggle that he's been through. So yeah, based on his experience, he has enough experience to comment on it.
AmateurHistorian (NYC)
I saw Captain America: Civil War two weeks ago and I have a huge bone to pick with that movie. It is a movie the studio, Disney & Marvel, want to make half a billion with in East Asia but how many Asian actors were employed? ZERO. Civil War has ten white/Jewish superheroes and dozens of white supporting characters. Three black superheroes and three black supporting characters with dialogue. A few Hispanic supporting characters with one-liner but ZERO Asian. No Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Pakistini, nada. No name, no dialog, no screen time, not even referred to. It is amazing how monotone Hollywood can be. They see Asian markets but cannot conceive casting anyone that's not white or black.
AVT (Spokane)
The fact that we are still lumping Indian-American actors (Ansari) and East Asian actors into one bucket is itself an indication that we have a huge problem... I mean we might as well throw in Russians too, Russia is technically in Asia right?
JustinClark87 (NJ)
That's correct but Indian-Americans are going through the same plight as East Asian-Americans. Sure you can throw Russians in there too cause they are Asian but we all know, a Russian-American has a better time landing roles because they got that "look".
AVT (Spokane)
My admittedly poor attempt at sarcasm was meant to show that the fact that we still are lumping ethnic groups together that could not be less similar shows how far we have to go in terms of solving the problem...
Fernando (Florida)
I'm seeing all these views and statements from Asian-americans, but I"m interested in seeing what Asians from Asia think. From what I know Asian "identity" is only an american thing.
Sunnysandiegan (San Diego)
I agree, I never thought of myself as "Asian" until forced to pick that category on American forms! There is no pan continental identity just as I am sure native born Americans, Mexicans and Canadians would be hard pressed to label themselves as "North American". While we are talking about American misnomers, can I also complain about calling someone "Indian" as opposed to Natuve American in 2016. True "Indians" detest it just as much as descendants of the Cherokee do. Same with "East Indian", a term that every South East Asian associates with opperession aka the East Indian Company that brought colonialism to our shores.
JustinClark87 (NJ)
They feel the same and it's not just in Hollywood. You see it with their responses in politics towards the Western Nations.
Prof. Sigrid Gottfredsen (Madison, Wisconsin)
Couldn't help but notice the inference in the article and most comments that all white people are the same--utter racist nonsense.

I am the descendant of Danish Lutheran and German Catholic immigrants, married to an immigrant from Bosnia who is Muslim. We have a vast amount of differences.
Maria (Seattle)
This article is not about white people. Stop trying to make it.
Expat (London)
If you are accusing the white people of being racists, then, yes, it's about them too.
Tony Cooper (Oakland, CA)
Plenty of Asian-Americans gladly take on the role of being honorary Caucasians and the benefits that seemingly go along with that status. This article is a piece of proof that they are, as long as they stay within the box of being compliant, non-threatening, cute, cuddly little people.
JustinClark87 (NJ)
Aren't Asians passive to begin with? TV has thought me they are submissive, loyal, and a culture based on honor. Am I correct?
unam (new york)
Did you "thought" of this sentence all by yourself?
neal (westmont)
It couldn't be that part of the reason for this is that Asians choose to go into acting less (compared to others). They instead make up an extremely large percentage of students going into scientific and technical jobs. In the California collegiate system they make up 40% of students. No doubt the (relatively) high 2 parent households, high income (higher than whites) and strong pushing from families plays a role in this.

It's funny The Times didn't even attempt to go here...
JustinClark87 (NJ)
But the reasons for less Asian-American actors is the result of little to no opportunities in Hollywood. There's loads of articles about them changing careers after being disenfranchised by the industry.

I've worked with many actors through the years and I know dozens of asian-american actors. Almost every one of them drops out because there are no roles. They change careers to make a living and not because of "pushing" from families. And the few that stick around end up having regular careers while juggling local theater acting gigs in the hopes their agent has an audition for them. It is not a lack of skill. Some of them could run circles around the other actors we grew up with (who have landed major roles on sitcoms and network shows) but no one will ever see it. That's the reality of Asian-American actors.
Shay (Canada)
Or it could be that many of go to Asia. Because they can't get jobs here if they want to be performers of any kind.
AJ (Noo Yawk)
To Bruce R in Oakland: You apparently have no cognizance of American demographics vs. that of other countries (are there really so many blacks in India or China? or whites?). How many blacks are there in America? How many Asians? How many Latinos? Numbers are good,, you just have to use them in a way that matches reality.
Jazz (My Head)
I'm old enough to remember when they routinely had White actors playing Mexican or Native American characters. The message from Hollywood has always been. and continues to be "It's the White man's world and the rest of us are just living in it, because our lives are of universal interest to everybody".

You walk through any American city in your daily life. and you see people of all nationalities and colors. But when you turn on your television. or go to a film all you see is White people. It's ridiculous.

What most producers in Hollywood doesn't seem to get is that by having a more diverse cast, you give more viewers "portals of entry" into your show or film. "ER" and Shonda Rimes's multiple shows are great examples of this. A Hispanic, Black, Gay, or Asian viewer might tune in to a series, or see a film just to see that character that looks like them, and find that there are also many other good reasons to watch that show/film that they wouldn't have discovered, if that minority character hadn't presented a doorway into that show or film. Steven Bocho, David Kelley, John Wells, and now Shonda Rimes have fully grasped that concept, and have been both creatively, and economically successful with it. So did J.J. Abrams with the latest "Star Wars" film which got great reviews, and grossed two billion dollars.

Diverse casting is actually a very smart way to create more viewers and box office for your project. It's just good business.
neal (westmont)
Oh, forgot to say. I don't care what race, I would not have watched The Martian without the lead role being Matt Damon. He is my favorite actor back to his days scribbling on chalkboard driving a clunker across the country in Goodwill Hunting. No doubt that's part of the reason he was cast.
JustinClark87 (NJ)
But here's a question, how can the asian-american community have an A List actor if Hollywood isn't offering them roles. I get that you need that with movies but how can you have that if you never have opportunities? That's the issue.
C. (San Diego, CA)
I'm guessing most self-respecting Asian actresses are quite relived to have not been cast in "Aloha".
Brad (Texas)
I don't understand why we need to divide ourselves up like this. Why can't we all just be Americans and have some solidarity in that? One of the reasons for so much discord and anger in this country is because of race. If people would stop insisting they are "Asian-American" or "African-American" and just be American it would go a long way to getting rid of these issues.
On another note, the fact that the "ancestral" nation is listed first has always bothered me. Why is it not American-African or American-Asian, why does America have to be last in the naming, to me it says that the country of ancestral origin is more important than America.
Maria (Seattle)
Maybe if white people hadn't been so horrible to non-white peoplw (and continue to be horrible) then your utopian idea could happen.
Brad (Texas)
Maria, you have a point. However, it is not just white vs non-white. It is all nationalities of Americans vs one another and sometimes on their own. I cannot do anything to make up for the actions of some person in the past, nor do I think I should be held accountable for their actions. "The sins of the father should not be born by the son".
How does holding on to all the memories of bad things help us as a people? I am not suggesting that it be completely forgotten, lest history repeat, I am instead suggesting that in order to heal forgiveness must happen. We do nobody any good by holding onto the pains of the past.
Racial division can be seen in children as young as kindergarten, but if we can find a way to teach them not to put race first, maybe the "continue to be horrible" would not continue.
Shay (Canada)
This argument is incredibly frustrating. People who say they have no responsibility for actions of the past and why can't we just forget it and hold hands and sing kumbayah are missing the point entirely. GOOGLE the term white privilege. Read things written by scholars. Look up an article called "Invisible Knapsack". Listen to anything ever said by Tim Wise on Youtube. No one is blaming anyone alive today for past racism -- they are blaming them for ignoring the effects of that past racism that CONTINUE TODAY. They are blaming an unfair system. Ignoring is the same thing as perpetuating. Case in point, this entire article and your response to it.
Larry (Michigan)
Donna of two hours ago. It is not ignorance. It is being done now and will only grow. People of color have magazines, studios, etc. Distribution is the next step. Negotiations and Distribution deals. As each group, not just African-Americans and Asians start their own distributions, you will see more diversity . Yes. it cost millions to create some movies, but that is why you create packs, diverse contributors. You merge companies to share in the cost and the eventual profit. Susan De Passe is an African-American and she showed that a wonderful and profitable movie could be made where African-Americans decide who will be hired for the parts. It resulted in a sequel. Asian-Americans will do the same. No one is playing catch-up Donna, but some who once made the decisions to exclude will have to get on board or be left behind.
Msirichit (Washington DC)
I should also add that the "whittening craze" among women in East Asia that white American and European tend to look upon as silly is also the direct consequence of hollywood white washing over the decades. Hollywood's cultural dominance led to billions the world over being indoctrinate to identify with "white." It's a global problem. I have proposed for years that cultural protectionism (like by France, Korea or China) must be treated as fair if Hollywood continues to be irresponsible.
Expat (London)
Oh dear. Do you not see the irony? If you are for cultural protectionism, then Hollywood is doing the right thing -- the dominant culture being white, Christian and male.
blackmamba (IL)
Asia is geography. It is not race. The countries in Asia are nation states not races. Neither color nor ethnicity nor eye shape are race. Marlon Brando, Yul Brynner, Omar Sharif, Warner Oland and John Wayne all played Asians.

About 20% of the human race is ethnic Han Chinese. China and India are the most populous nation's on Earth with growing vibrant film industries. How "white" are their films? Oscar so white because Hollywood is so white. If you want films that use your talent then make your own movies.
KJeeee (Fort Lee, N.J.)
Only when China entrenches itself as the superpower will Hollywood yield--ever so slowly like turning the titanic--to more exposure to Asian Americans.
Krista (Texas)
#StarringJohnCho #whitewashedOUT So many nonwhite characters are portrayed by white actors; it's awesome these hashtags are getting attention. It would be great to finally see a change after over a century of film and television.
James (USA)
Let's also not forget the fact that the Asian American population at only 5% is due primarily to the Chinese Exclusion Act from 1882-1965. If it weren't for this racist law, Asians would be closer to 20% of the population. If that idea frightens you, just think how fast Asians are assimilating. In fact, by the 2nd generation, we speak perfect English with hardly any noticeable accent (compare that to 3rd generation Hispanics who have strong Spanish accents, or 2nd generation Jews (Bernie Sanders) or 3rd generation German (Trump - HUUUUGE accent).
Meh (east coast)
Not sure what your point is, other than without that law there would have more integration of Asians from various countries and therefore a larger population today. That's a given.

The whole smug thing about losing one's ascent is lost on me. Believe it or not some people are actually proud of whi they are and don't particularly care to entirely subsume themselves to majority culture.

But congratulations to you on your unaccented speech, assuming you don't have a regional one as most Americans do. Not sure the accomplishment, unless the goal is to become a newscaster.
David (Los Angeles, CA)
Unfortunately, people of color continue to be shut out of Hollywood's "farm system" leading to drastic underrepresentation and lack of diversity. The question is, what can we do about it? Personally, I think Hollywood's cage can stand to be rattled a little bit, in the same way that the DREAMers impacted immigration and Black Lives Matter impacted criminal justice reform. It's kind of remarkable and a little appalling that whitewashing is "still a thing."
doy1 (NYC)
Hollywood seems to have had so little imagination for so long now. The "dream factory" primarily reflects only the one-note violent dreams/fantasies of teenage white boys.

Open up more diversity in casting, and who knows - that might even open your minds and inspire more creativity in genres, plots, stories, characters, etc. And get out more! You'll see this is an increasingly diverse country, which surely means millions more interesting stories and creative possibilities!
Alan (Los Angeles)
I'm sorry - if you're only 5.4 percent of the population, it's not surprising you have hardly any roles. The difference between 1 and 5.4 percent is very low. Plus, this is entertainment aimed at the mass market, not 5.4 percent of the market. And if you can get Scarlett Johansson to star in your movie, you'll change your character from Asian, rather than cast a far lesser known actress. This is a business, not a social experiment.
JustinClark87 (NJ)
But what's the population of China and India?
Shay (Canada)
And Jewish people make up less than 2% of the population and yet are HIGHLY visible in Hollywood. Oh, as a matter of fact, Scarlett happens to have Jewish ancestry as well. It might be business, but clearly an exclusionary, very selective and very RACIST one.

And like JustinClark pointed out, how much money does Hollywood make annually from its films abroad, including in Asia? Since you love numbers, you might want to look that one up, and then determine how much sense this makes.
Joanne Murray (Adelaide)
My 16 year old daughter and I were actually talking about this the other day. We're "white" and we definitely want to see more diversity in movies and television. I find it particularly offensive that white people are put in roles that are obviously meant for someone of a colour that isn't white. As my daughter said, how bad does this make children feel who aren't white, when all they see is white people up on the screen. Take for example, Scarlett Johanssen being cast for the role in Ghost in the Shell. They will be using CGI to make her features look more Japanese rather than actually using a Japanese actress. This is offensive.
C (DC)
So good that your young daughter is engaged in this type of conversation. It's important.
jojo (Finland)
asian films use a lot of european stories and put asian actors in them.
AmateurHistorian (NYC)
I saw Captain America: Civil War two weeks ago and I have a huge bone to pick with that movie. It is a movie the studio, Disney & Marvel, want to make half a billion with in East Asia but how many Asian actors were employed? ZERO. Civil War has ten white/Jewish superheroes and dozens of white supporting characters. Three black superheroes and three black supporting characters with dialogue. A few Hispanic supporting characters with one-liner but ZERO Asian. No Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Pakistini, nada. No name, no dialog, no screen time, not even referred to. It is amazing how monotone Hollywood can be. They see Asian markets but cannot conceive casting anyone that's not white or black. Asian's refusal to riot or offend doesn't help either; not getting the oil if you are not squeaking.
jojo (Finland)
I'm sure asian movies only have asian actors. No anger over that. Only white cultures have to erase themselves.
Shay (Canada)
Yes but Asians aren't trying to sell their films beyond Asia the way Hollywood does. Don't complain about being "erased". White people own this world. Nothing on Earth threaten's you but your own mind telling you everyone else is a problem.
Expat (London)
Do you really think Asian film producers/makers don't want to sell their products beyond their region? It certainly is not for want of trying.
Voila (New York)
Seriously, can we stop with the whining already? I am Asian-American and even I think this is ridiculous. We may make up 5% of the overall population, but there is no way we make up even a fraction of that in the acting profession. On the other hand, we make up much more than 5% of the scientific, technical and medical communities. Are we protesting about that as well now? We are (mostly) raised to focus on academics, and so even the kids who are born gifted in the arts or sports grow up believing those are hobbies and not professions. So obviously we go under-represented. You want to complain to someone - take it up with your parents and grandparents.
Expat (London)
Hallelujah! No higher truth than this.
SC (Erie, PA)
I sympathize with Asian actors. Typecasting, which has affected actors of many races, even some white, has been a fact of life in all forms of American film and theater forever it seems. It is the negation of talent and skill that performers work so hard to develop. That one can convincingly "pretend" to be something one is not. Furthermore, it has become a refuge for producers and directors of little imagination and even fewer guts and principles. As such, it is a symptom of a larger problem that goes beyond race. And that is of an industry plagued by a lack of imagination. Out here in the hinterlands there's hardly ever a movie that comes to our local multiplex that's worth even the $7 or so it costs to see. Quite frankly, it's stupid puerile trash. Besides the money, why would a good actor even want to be in these kinds of films? In a Hollywood where talent and true genius and a sense of what stories are really worth telling abide, diversity would be a natural by-product, and actors' talents would be liberated from stifling grip of stereotype and typecasting. When Hollywood, for a change, begins to have some good ideas, there should be roles aplenty for everyone. But I'm not holding my breath.
JS (New York, NY)
And yet, when Hollywood wants to bring about change - they do.

The greater acceptance of homosexuals in society today has a lot to do with increased and non-stereotypical portrayals of gays and lesbians in TV and film over the past three decades (even in spite of antagonizing a significant % of the viewership).

And prior to that, when it came to supporting social advancement of blacks, Hollywood made Sydney Poitier and Harry Belafonte film stars.

And in the film "Crash" which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the one group where stereotypes were affirmed rather then be deflated or at least brought into greater context was for Asians.
Brjann Kearse (York, PA)
The fact is, there's more talent in Hollywood from different cultures all around the world, but the industry wants to use the same old formula to sell mainstream films and it's dying out.

In the next, 10 years, movies will have to take casting more seriously from a cultural stand point more than ever.
JS (New York, NY)
The irony is that Hollywood is importing massive amounts of white actors from the UK, Australia, etc. to play white Americans (including superheroes and cowboys), but Asian-American actors are largely relegated to bit parts portraying foreigners or recent immigrants.
Jay Schneider (Canandaigua MY)
There ought to be a law...right?
aaa aaa (aaa)
Aziz Ansari doesn't have to fight not to be ignored by me. I think that dude is hilarious. The Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker) just posted a great video about 'whitewashing':
Max Cohen (Brooklyn)
Let's also not pretend theirs a large pool of talent that is being ignored and Let's not pretend that in eastern Asian cultures, acting and the arts has been a focus, a priority or even actively encouraged. They may be 5% of Population but they make up a lot higher percentage and are definitely not under represented in the top business, science and medical schools this country. If the arts were taken seriously in Asian communities there would be more actors. If they committed to the arts like they commit to education they would win oscars every year. Even Ken Jeong had to become a DR first before he felt the freedom to start going on auditions. Like many other immigrant groups the first gen always carry the dreams of their parents, then it is THEIR children who often get the opportunities to pursue the paths that they were often denied. There might not be a ton of Asian American actors now but that will change as time goes on.
Max Cohen (Brooklyn)
For one lack of Asian casting doesn't always have to do with racism. In Marvels situation they were actually trying to NOT be racist by casting Tilda Swilton to play the wise creator as opposed to the original character created in the very non PC 1950's. Let's not pretend no one would call foul if the roll was cast as a small bald Asian man with a fu man chu mustache that speaks broken English and teaches the white man the "mystical powers of the east"? Give me a break.
mark (nwrk mj)
Hollywood created and promulgated the stereotype of Asians in movies....
i think the best example is Sidney Tolar as Charlie Chan....i loved those movies as a kid and still do. The intelligent, sophisticated Chinaman, SO much a better detective than his Anglo compatriots......but ALWAYS humble, kind and so very, very logical. When you combine HIS character with his sons ( and i always loved the " number 1 son etc ) who were raised in the US with ALL the goofyness that American kids have......well, THAT was fun and entertaining and made you look FORWARD to the next installment.
Then came WW 2.....well, after that there was NO way Asians could be depicted in ANY positive light. They were the ones to hate, to watch with your mouth open at their cruelty........the best example being " The Purple Heart " with Dana Andrews and a fine supporting cast. THERE were the Japs from Pearl Harbor days......worthy of hatred and scorn.
I really dont think much has changed since then.......Only young moviegoers will not know of or remember Pearl Harbor, Korea, Vietnam etc. Middle age and older people will STILL look at the Asian character as " less than " or comic relief or as a reason NOT to see the movie.
Well the world is what it is now.......well, maybe in another 10 to 30 years, once all the people from the 40's thru 80's are dead and gone......there WILL be an upsurge in Asians playing main characters, good or bad, in movie mainstream.
Robert Quincy (New York)
It does not matter if studios cast "Asian Americans". Asia takes in a huge swath of the earth. Who is an Asian? Who is American? The bigotry is still there regardless of what the studios do. There is bigotry among the Asians. Indians hate the Chinese and every other ethnic group around them. Japanese and Koreans hate each other and the Chinese. Chinese hate the Japanese. Okay, casting an Asian American will solve what problem?
weaver (Washington dc)
Who wrote this piece? This is all made up! Let me get this straight: - The only data point you have is: " A group representing 5% of the population is out of 50% of midia products". That means they are IN 50% of media products. That means they are Over Represented. Not under represented... NYT needs to look out for Black people dying on the streets, Syrian refugees and global warming. Not Asian kids trying to show up in movies. I also wanna be in movies: - I am fat and bold, and largely underepresented on TV as romantic interest. Gimme a break...
unam (new york)
If you're bold, that should get you more auditions....
Bruce (United States)
We asians should take note of the one guy who actually did make it, and perhaps take some notes and follow his lead...

Bruce Lee experienced this firsthand when he was replaced with David Carradine for a role in a series that he created, pitched, and co-wrote! But he didn't let that phase him. After making a name for himself overseas, he eventually went the DIY route and established his own production company and started making his own films. Way of the Dragon (aka Return of the Dragon) was a film directed by, produced by, written by, and choreographed by none other than Bruce Lee. Ironically, he casted his american friend Chuck Norris to play the role of the villain, essentially jump starting his career in the process as well. The success of that film was what got the attention of Hollywood again, which led to Enter thr Dragon.

I know a lot of you are rolling your eyes at the mention of bruce lee, because not all of us know kung fu, and we have him to thank for that stereotype, but forget the the kung fu for a second and take note of how he made it. Here is a guy who didn't complain about his situation, but instead went and did something about it for himself. One of his best quotes is "circumstance? to hell with circumstance. I create my own opportunities"
Hey Hollywood,

I love the way Rachel Bloom talks about "specificity" vs. "universal" and how Jill Soloway talks about Amazon letting her be as "Jewy" and "queer" as she wants. I want my characters, Asian and black and Jewish and Latino and gay and straight and white and WASP-y and....

I think that's one of the reasons so many people have embraced "Orange is the New Black".

I mean there's a lot of entertainment platforms these days and so many stories to tell. I don't always want to see my face.

Daniel Locker (Brooklyn)
These people should be selected because they are the best actor for the role, not because they are Asian. When are we going to just all be Americans without the racial qualifier?
elmueador (New York City)
Fame begets high profile roles, begets more fame, begets more roles... etc. But fame with whom? Most cinema going white Americans don't identify with Asian Americans, because they don't remotely understand them. (So they can only be used and pigeonholed as Madama Butterfly, flight engineer and good student, which then kills the last nerve of any Asian.) Sign another petition, why don't you? The problem are the shows. It would be great if "Fresh off the boat" was a good show. Koreans can do it, why can't we?
globalnomad (Cranky Corner, Louisiana)
At least Gong Li appeared as the luscious Chinese woman she is as Sonny Crockett's girlfriend in the "Miami Vice" movie. We need more of her.
Jimmy (State College, PA)
Maurissa Tancharoen, who is part of Joss Whedon's cohort, wrote and recorded the trenchant and pointed song "Nobody's Asian in the Movies." Surprising that it wasn't referenced in a well-sourced article.
jorues (md)
I completely disagree with the idea that casting a "white" actor or actress in most of these cases is "white washing", and frankly I find the outrage from these "Asian" actor/actresses to be arrogant and childish. How many issues of Doctor Strange or episodes of Ghost in the Shell did John Cho write or animate. How many days, months, or years of their lives did these "outraged" actors and actresses spend creating and building these characters or the worlds they inhabit. The answer is none, zero, which is exactly how much of a right they have to complain about the alterations to these characters. The only person who has a right to complain about or argue against the casting of Scarlett in Ghost in the Shell is Masamune Shirow the man who CREATED the character, and he approves of the casting and likes the idea of Scarlett playing the lead, and to quote the man himself "we never imagined it would be a Japanese actress in the first place". They own these characters and can chose to alter them in any way they want for any reason they want.
Gaijin (desert southwest)
Exactly!!!! That Is ANIME and manga, A Fantasy world set in Japan or in space, with characters who have Japanese names, speak Japanese but are not drawn as definitively Japanese. Its people of all different looks who live in Japan. That is what's cool about it. True Ghost in the Shell followers over the decades have seen the way the Major is animated, she is in a synthetic body and rarely has she looked fully "Japanese".
Shay (Canada)
I think it's arrogant to call people who are routinely denied opportunities solely because of their race "arrogant and childish". Actually the complaining about Ghost in the Shell comes from fans, because Hollywood adaptations of Japanese anime/comics (and even the American-created anime but still Asian-inspired "Last Airbender") are famously awful for every reason, not even just bad casting.
K. N. KUTTY (Mansfield Center, Ct.)
The Struggle of Asian-American Actors.
My take on this issue is different from everyone else's. I dream of a time when the skin color, physiognomy or even gender of an actor would not be a factor in impersonating a character. A character's true identity, like that of a human being, has nothing to do with his/her skin tones or physical features: It is embedded invisibly in her/his speech, emotions, and actions. The first Hamlet, Othello, Ophelia, Willy Loman, Jean Val Jean, John Proctor, Vladimir, Estragon, and Pozzo--to name only a few of the characters in western plays that I watched on stage and screen were in Mumbai and all played by Indian actors. It never occurred to me that anything was lost because the characters were not played by English, European, or American actors; or that anything would be gained if they were.
Most characters are personifications of human beings found everywhere in the world; they spring out of the imagination of their creators. Does any theater-goer imagine the six characters in Luigi Pirandello's "Six haracters in Search of an Author" as Italians, simply because their creator was? That's
primitive. Is Hamlet Danish? That is Neanderthal? Are Estragon and Vladimir French? That's rubbish. Worse, still, Trumpish.
Expat (London)
Yes, Hamlet is Danish -- Prince of Denmark. That is not to say the actor portraying him has to be Danish. After all, it is only a play (written by an English man) and as plays and movies go, any capable actor can be cast in any role. Of course the business side of the industry will always have an eye out for making the most profit, hence the casting of mega stars, who mostly are white.
I've recently seen Adrian Lester (British Black) play Hamlet here and he was brilliant and his ethnicity did not cross my mind. I also saw last year's Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch which was brilliant as well -- but that run sold out within hours with higher than usual ticket prices. So, you see, it is mostly about profits -- the producers and directors will cast actors who they think are not only good and suitable for the roles, they take into consideration (a whole lot) who will bring in the most bucks. And such is life.
Gaijin (desert southwest)
Thank you! We'll said. And anyone who truly knows ANIME and manga knows not all characters are drawn to look Japanese. Perhaps ANIME n manga should never be made into a live actor movie in the first place.
aaron (south china sea)
there's more diversity in cannes
Pecos 45 (Dallas, TX)
If you still believe white privilege doesn't exist, read some of the comments here.

"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle."
George Orwell
Darker (ny)
So....WHO is making a mint SELLING this latest SENSATIONALISM?
Are these the actors who have to "fight" for VISIBILITY?
Other than hype, WHAT is this? Yikes...
Scott (NY)
A colossal amount of money goes into making films - even those with relatively modest budgets and a hope of commercial success. Same with a Broadway show. Someone runs a risk analysis of having an Asian lead or Black heroine against the expected audience and then you cast the white actor for the bottom line. That's business. It is amoral, not necessarily immoral. Hollywood and Broadway rarely produce 'art' but they can produce a decent ROI
nytcalif (calif)
As a first generation Asian (non-east Asian) immigrant, I am almost completely disconnected from Hollywood. I rarely watch any of the mainstream TV channels. Don’t watch many Hollywood movies unless I feel like some mindless fun. I watch youtube which is an equal opportunity content provider, or content from around the world. Hollywood and its advertising agencies have lost me as a customer. But I do worry about my children. They are growing up in an America where the demographics in their schools bear little resemblance to what’s on TV. My guess is that they and a lot of their generation will also switch off. Hollywood will then have to wake up of necessity. The advertising dollars will shrink if there are no audiences.
Kent (Los Angeles)
I think the onus is on Asian-Americans, as a community, to fund movies with Asian-American actors and stories. Maybe BD Wong, Constance Wu, Aziz Ansari and others can pool their resources and come up with a fellowship that helps struggling Asian-American directors/writers/actors. It's certainly not a lack of talent, but of opportunity. Why rely on others to create the opportunities for our community to succeed?
Jeffrey B. (Greer, SC)
If I choose to, I will ignore whom I wish to.
Put your arrogance into your left-back-pocket, NYT. (I will not explain the significance of colored hankies in back pockets.)
That I choose not to ignore any performers who are talented is my choice, and the providence of myself and my evolved G/F.
Moderator, what's the verdict?
Annie Towne (Oregon)
The inanity of the comments on this article are every bit as stunning as the whitewashed casting cited in it.

And part of the question for me is, Why does Emma Stone accept a role with the last name Ng (unless by marriage, obviously)? What is she thinking?
tungtung (Englewood NJ)
Watch Silicon Valley---the bullying and put down of the 2 asian male charcters is persistent and targeted. The white guys have a monopoly on taunts. They don't get back back what they dish out. Racist boors.
Subash Thapa (Albany, Australia)
As an Asian myself, I think its pretty stupid of labelling hollywood as racist because we don't see enough minority in lead roles. Hollywood can be accused of pushing the stereotypes, but it has been doing so against all cultures and countries. How many types have we seen a dumb redneck, Jewish accountant, loud Italians, drunk Irish, arrogant French, British with bad teeth etc. etc. Hollywood is an industry where Meryl Streep was too ugly to be a star, so calling it racist because it refuses to cast you on the basis of your looks is a bit-naive.
Scarellet Johansonn was not cast in the lead role just because she was white, she was cast because she's the only female lead that can bank a $50m movie. I can understand the plight of an Asian who struggles in hollywood because of the lack of roles or being a typecast. Maybe this will change if they start voicing their opinions, but calling this lack of opportunity racism is just wrong.
Gaijin (desert southwest)
Thank you. Great point.
SG (New York)
All the people who think Asians should stop complaining and start their own production company seems to think that Hollywood movies are white supremacist market products instead of being an expression of art.

Hollywood should realize that when it fails to explore all forms of human life, it fails to become art and that will make them eventually run out of business.
Exec in Asia (Greater China)
Whitewashing? How racist it is for these Asian actors to rely on skin tone to define roles and what is/isn't asian. How racist! I live and work in China, where: a) there are "Asians" who look white/Caucasian (i.e. the Uighurs in China); and there are b) mixed race and biracial kids and adults who look white/Caucasian though they are Chinese citizens. In Hong Kong, for example, if a child is born and the mother is Chinese but the father is white/non-Chinese, then Chinese law dictates the kid is Chinese. The kid is Chinese, even though the bi-racial kid may look 100% white. So would it be whitewashing for this kid who "looks" white, but is legally Chinese and racially half-Asian to land the role of a Chinese person?
Jim (Short Hills, NJ)
Whitewashing is analogous to Afro-Americans being under-represented in Silicon Valley, and women being under-represented in upper management in Fortune 500 companies. It's the right of Asian Americans to protest and fight for what's rightfully theirs.
Kathryn Meyer (Carolina Shores, NC)
So beyond weary of everything being turned into a racial issue. This is especially offensive coming from people of privilege. I don't see anyone wanting whites in Appalachia to take roles that provide other that the 'redneck' stereotype status. and how about the dumb white guy - another stereotype. Don't hear the Hollywood privilege complaining.

If the money is there Hollywood will follow. Complaining that films largely about a celtic culture have no Asians in it is a problem, is nonsense. The fact that there's no uproar, over a Black man (Chris Rock) making disparaging remarks about Asians but if a White person did it - whoa baby, that's some outrageous racism.

So privileged people of any race, I'm weary of your nonsense. Why don't you start helping people. The needs are out there, so come out from behind your make believe worlds with your make believe issues and help your fellow man, regardless of the color of his/her skin.
Beth Grant DeRoos (Angels Camp California)
When one considers the BILLIONS of consumers within the international entertainment market that encompasses China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and India its foolish to not have Asian artists in film and television, since these would bring in mega billions in dollars both for movie attendance, movie rentals, but advertising revenue for television as well.

CBS should be applauded because they have so many shows that are 100% racially and ethnically diverse. Which includes Hawaii 5-0 which has Daniel Dae Kim who is this piece, as well as Grace Park, and Masi Oka as main characters.
James (USA)
We could start an Asian American Hollywood, but then the same people dismissing us today are the same people who say "There are black TV channels but there are no white TV channels. That's reverse-racism." You can't win.
Human (Planet Earth)
Bravo! These actors are my heroes. Please keep at it. My children are Asian American and I want all doors to be open to them, including acting, and I also want them to see their features and families reflected and represented in movies and on TV as a part of American mainstream culture.
Larry (Michigan)
Start your own distribution companies. There are no reason one group can do it and another group can not. There is enough money in every racial group to do this. Let Tom Hanks and others have their agents come to your company for movie deals. Cast your own Asian actors. Hire others to play the other parts in the movies. Purchase, buy advertisements and distribute on your own terms. The movie business is still in its infancy!
Vincent (New York)
I simply don't see how this article hews to a principle. If the principle was that there should be more Asian roles in entertainment, fine. But that's not what the article wants to say.

I wants to say white actors shouldn't play Asian roles. How is that principle at all enforceable, both as an issue of fairness, or respect for what the craft of acting is supposed to be about?

Wasn't Kate Blanchette's role as Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There" hailed as groundbreaking? Should Idris Elba be pre-emptively prohibited from playing James Bond?

Finally, the age old question of using statistical representation. If the author is making a point by saying 5% of the population is Asian, are they concurrently making the point that ONLY 5% of roles should be reserved for Asian actors? Because that is precisely the argument you make by expecting a proportional representation. Unless, of course, you are willing to endorse allowing a disproportionate representation for someone else.

Finally, what metric should the line be drawn at? Race? Ethnicity? Religion? Orientation? Disability? Should a sighted actor be able to play Helen Keller, or a fully-able actor FDR?
Sleater (New York)
Excellent, timely article, that doesn't even scratch the surface in terms of Hollywood's long history of erasure and whitewashing of Asian Americans and Asian characters (think Charlie Chan, etc.).

I'm also not surprised at the negative responses of many apparently white readers, who apparently cannot bear to have the realities of racism pointed out to them. Oh well. If they took the time to respond to the article perhaps they read some of it, and maybe some of what they read will sink in.
alrighty (<br/>)
I bet the person moderating this discussion is not Asian American. The person who chooses which comments to publish is letting ugly disrespectful stupid comments about Asians through because he/she holds them himself/herself. This paper is much more more careful about blocking hateful comments against blacks, hispanics, etc.
NYTimes has its biases.
Sleater (New York)
Haha, do you read this paper? The Philosophers' Stone blog posts on here by black and brown philosophers brought out virulently hateful attacks against black people. I don't just think it's anti-Asian. I'm just glad that this topic is being discussed. I mean, how can anyone keep setting shows in New York City, and NOT show the wide array of people here? Instead, it's either a whiteout, the person of color is a buddy or secondary figure, or, like with *Two Broke Girls*, they're stereotypes (Asian American, Black, etc.). Talk about things needing to change!
Outside the Box (America)
Asians think they have it bad, but science, math, engineering, and technology people have it 1.0e2 times worse. Hollywood has never featured a real STEM person in a STEM role.
AJ (Midwest)
Incorrect. Mayim Bialick is a neuroscientist who plays a neuroscientists on Big Bang Theory.
Baba (<br/>)
Another example. Ken Jeong who plays Dr. Ken is actually a medical doctor. I read that he keeps his medical license current just in case.
Karen (Washington DC)
Perhaps because their professions are things like "scientist" and "engineer", not "actor". Professions are something that people choose and train for--race is not. I'll also note that (in addition to Mayim Bialick mentioned by AJ), Ken Jeong--discussed in this very article--was a medical doctor before embarking on an acting career, in which he now plays a doctor. So there are cases of this happening, but it's rare for people to change careers.
AR (Virginia)
Certainly I'm on board with criticizing the casting people who decided that Tilda Swinton, Mackenzie Davis, Emma Stone, and Scarlet Johannson should get roles in movies that obviously should have gone to actresses of Asian background. That is inexcusable, no question.

But passages like the following don't resonate with me: "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."

OK, so now about a bit more than one-twentieth of the country's people are of Asian background. That is not a very large figure. And I'm not sure if census data should be used to require at least 5 percent of major studio films to feature a lead actor of Asian background. The informal institution of quotas based on demographics to decide casting in movies will cause more problems, not solve existing ones.
Karen (Washington DC)
No one mentioned anything about quotas (except you). I think the point being illustrated is simply that people of Asian background are underrepresented in movies as compared to their proportion of the overall population. This article is simply asking that we consider these numbers, and try for better representation.
waverlyroot (Los Angeles)
Nobody is asking for a quota system, as if something so simplistic and mechanistic could even begin to address the problem. And it is a problem when opportunities for Asian-Americans, Blacks, women, gays, etc. haven't been expanding commensurately with their growing political and economic clout. It is a problem when yet another generation of kids grow up without having access to rich and fully-realized portraits of themselves and of others.
If you can't see where the Asian-American actors in this piece are coming from, surely you can acknowledge that "women and minorities are vastly underrepresented in front of and behind the camera" (look to the left at the interactive sidebar.)

This country is browning (check out Hari Kondobolu's "Waiting for 2042") - a reality that politicians, retailers and the advertising industry have understood better than Hollywood. Even if we can't undo centuries of whitewashing, we can certainly do better to address racism and demographics honestly.
rbyteme (waukegan, il)
I find it is distressing, depressing and, frankly, embarrassing (as a white woman) to read so many dismissive and willfully ignorant comments posted by people who do not seem to be Asians. Shame on you. Stop making excuses for institutionalized stereotyping and industry bias, particularly when you can never understand what that might be like on the receiving end.
Sleater (New York)

It's not that hard to grasp!
Ian Maitland (Wayzata)

Have you ever stopped to think how profoundly racist your claim is that only Asians (whatever that is) can understand what it is like to be Asians? One implication is that no Asian can ever act in a play by Shakespeare. Or maybe you think that Shakespeare's portrayal of Iago is absurd because an Englishman could never understand a Moor (viz., North African).

I grew up in England, Egypt, France, Jerusalem and the US. I am still trying to figure out the Americans.
john (brooklyn)
Yes but reality does not reflect this current outrage. The majority of breakdowns that come out, for the past 3 years or so, ask for all ethnicities except Caucasian or "diverse only". This outrage DOES NOT reflect the current reality. This argument is from a decade ago. But I guess when you are a frustrated person in Hollywood of color, you will not let go of this argument that the reason you don't work is because of your race. Instead, realize it is an insanely hard business for everyone.
Bruce R (Oakland CA)
White folks will always do what white folks do: Be White. People of other races and colors are no different. The market for TV and movies with Asian actors is just as large, and maybe larger than the market for actors of all other races. China alone has a demographic of almost one billion; India about six hundred million. Japan is big, as well. But I don't ever see any Black people in their movies. Are we talking about racial equality here, or selective equality? Your politics on your terms, or what?
Mohita (SF)
India does not have a significant black population. Indian movies represent Indians from across the sub continent. The US does have a significant Asian population which is not represented. Your comment does not hide your fear of minorities.
Kolya (Nyc)
When China, India, or Japan has minorities the way we do here, then we can question their film industry. Those countries don't have a black and Latino population that make up 28%. What the percentage of middle eastern or Somoan in Japan? We don't need a quota, but if you had a realistic depiction of your typical American city, every 3rd person would be some type of ethnic minority. So now look at something like friends; set in NYC for goodness sakes! Anything approaching reality? How you can have movie after movie after show set in LA with NO MEXICAN(AMERICANS)!
justthoughts (Boston, MA)
I entirely agree with this. I live in a community that is 65% Asian. I am white. There are special academic groups and sports teams and events just for Chinese or Indian people. If whites did this it would be illegal. Not only that, my child is told several times a year about the superiority of the Chinese culture, or the better schools in India, or whatever. Can you imagine if he said something similar at school about white people? The sky would fall.
Mitchell (Arizona)
All hard to disagree with. Changes will come and I'd expect fairly quickly. Identity politics is a massive growth industry, has anyone else noticed?
Justice Holmes (Charleston)
And in the end the result will not be good for anyone no matter what their "identity". But no one seems to care.
Donna Zuba (kennewick)
Well I for one love it when there is diversity (and reflected reality) in a movie or TV show. I like that the cast of H5O is diverse and looks like Hawaii. I watch Elementary just for Lucy Lu. I'm a second generation born in Chicago white woman. I'm still thrilled when I see great female characters AT ALL regardless of the color of her skin but seeing a woman of color as a positive character - I could watch the show in re-runs all summer. I work in straight, white male dominated industry - sadly.. the lack of diversity in my industry is also the lack of independent thought. Too much group think and group ideas when there is no one else represented.

I liked this article!
Darker (ny)
Well, thrillz-a-rama! That's Lucy LIU.
flyoverland resident (kcmo)
so now we have a bunch of B-list talent complain that in probably the most discriminatory line of work (acting) that the *single overarching reason* they didnt get a part is strictly b/c they're asian. this is the kind of identity politics garbage people are way past sick of. well sadly for identity politics criers that the main "reasons" why people get cast are a) agent connections to the money people (producers) and b) the probability (wrong half the time, yes) that x person will help the movie make the most money. hollywood is greedy and risk-averse, wow theres a newsflash! as memorial day movies will consist of "blockbusters" that are titles "fill-in-the-blank 5" that is some comic book nerd story with lots of CG they can buy for the cheapest price. and animation so again, they can pay the help less. you want to go down that road? ask the rock why he does everything he can to look NOT black. he isnt getting cast b/c of acting ability. and it aint his guns either, so there's gotta be some reason he's all over the place.
Florian (France)
You obviously didnt read the article.
Kolya (Nyc)
How many Pauly Shore/ Adam Sandler/ ex SNL flops from white guys have we suffered thru? Paul Blart Mall Cop? Really?! Cause God of Egypt, Slayer of Mesopotamia whatever did so well...
Unimpressed (San Francisco)
No one should be given work just because of race. At the same time no one should be overlooked just because of race either. Furthermore, a role which is clearly written as an Asian character should not be whitewash and have a White person play that role.
C. J. Gronlund (Seattle, WA)
If only there were more roles like Glenn (Steven Yeun) in The Walking Dead. He's sexy, cool, and heroic.

Seriously, how hard can it be to make characters in TV and the movies look more like our lives?
CityBumpkin (Earth)
That's an excellent example of an Asian-American actor playing an Asian-American character well. More to the point, nothing about the role involves any kind of cliche stereotype. It simply acknowledges that people of Asian descent are a real part of what modern America looks like. (From what I've been told, Atlanta area, the setting for the Walking Dead, has a growing Korean population.)

Given how successful the comic and the TV show are, it calls into question Hollywood's old excuses of commercial non-viability.
JS (New York, NY)
Lucky for all of us that the character of Glenn was in the original source material (the graphic novels on which the TV show is based upob).
Randh2 (Nyc)
Just really tired of how far this goes. How Asian do you have to be? How black do you have to be?

Why aren't there more brown-skinned people in mainstream roles?

Why does Halle Berry count as black? My son looks part Asian and is 1/4 Asian, is that good enough? Is Jackie Chan automatically a stereotype?

And NFN, how do you compare racist speech and behavior to not forcing Asians into a script?

Unless you let people use their own creativity, you make the creative process into a pile of PC bull. And people of other cultures, like Eastern Europeans, are ignored.
CMD (Germany)
Eastern Europeans are - surprise, surprise! - white, so the point you make is no point at all. Of course, if you like laughing about their accents, that's another question. Accents are anathema for Americans.
jc (berkeley)
You raise a very good point. Your son is 1/4 Asian. That means he is Asian and he is whatever else. You can be more than just one you are pointing out.

I don't think it's fair for others to determine who is "Asian" and who is not. Let that person decide how they want to identify with their heritage and what they wish to do with it. If they decide to get involved and support AAPI civil rights and fight for increased representation, why stop them?

Also, culture and ethnicity are different. But if you mean ethnic E. Europeans, I hardly think we would ever be at risk of excluding that population of the U.S. from films. Now, including more stories about EE culture? Sure. Budapest is great city for filmmaking. Bet a lot of stories could be told there.
It's amazing that Hollywood hasn't caught on to the fact that there is a huge audience world wide (including the US) for the fantastic Korean, Japanese and Chinese television and film content that streams daily via Hulu Plus, Drama Fever and VIKI. Korean episodic television beats Hollywood hands-down in terms of imaginative story-telling, amazing production values and beautiful and talented actors. Haven't been tempted to watch most US network or cable television since I discovered the legions of talented actors and actresses working non-stop across Asia available via these other outlets. I would be far more likely to tune back into mainstream US television and films if there were more lead Asian actors. I'm Caucasian, and happy with subtitles!
Even the immigrants in America (naturalized or American citizens) turn into Americacentric after awhile. You grow up thinking everything from, of and about America is the best. Yes, you become very ignorant about the rest of the world, what they do, what they think, and how they think. Recently, I discovered Korean Dramas (KDs) and it was City Hunter that got me hooked on KDs from Netflix. Thanks Netflilx. I would have never gone out of my way to seek one out myself. I have watched more Korean dramas since then and actings are getting better and better, these younger generations in Korea. They are getting better at expressing subtle emotions. Sooner or later, even Hollywood will contract out the parts of movie productions to Korea, for instance.
TKB (San Francisco)
So true!! I have been watching Descendants of the Sun, a K Drama, and it is really fantastic! It is like a cross between the old JAG show and ER. Really a fantastic show (yes of course unrealistic) but the character development is great. My kids even liked it!
Gaijin (desert southwest)
Yes. I miss Japanese TV, drama, comedy, game shows n movies. I need to get them on line. But that's because they are Japanese, not an American show with Asian actors. The home of my heart is Japan and I embrace Japanese culture. Living on Hawaii was awesome too and a half way house for those of us leaving Japan and coming back to the States and culture shock. Hawaii has its own culture a blend of Pacific Island, Chinese, Japanese, Portugese. And we embraced thst culture living in aloha together. Then came the shock of mainland US.
AJ (Noo Yawk)
To John in Seattle: Is it really necessary to point out that Tom Hanks and other white actors have plenty of opportunity to play plenty of roles. To cite the exceptions, like 2 black men playing white men, as somehow "explanatory," for denying minority actors roles, or justification for converting originally minority characters into white, would allow Broadway to remain what it is, "the great white way."
Garrett Leigh (Orange, NJ)
The dearth of opportunities for American actors of Japanese, Chinese and Korean descent is a problem. They and their progeny have been part of the American fabric for well over 100 years. One reason why I do not watch the reboot of TV's Hawaii Five-0 is that I find it preposterous that the show has no lead character whom is a pacific islander. The Chin Ho Kelly character, portrayed by the aforementioned Daniel Dae Kim, is a supporting role. In Hawaii? Get real! Not having a Pacific islander in a leading role in a show set in Hawaii is patently absurd.

The heart of the problem is that narrow minded Hollywood elites continue to have a stereotypical view of the world. There are exceptions; Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson comes to mind. I don't care for identity politics, but when are Hollywood players going to admit that the role of a fictional character can be played by most anyone, regardless of ethnicity. Seems like they only employ that thinking when they want to cast a white actor/actress for a role originated by a person of color. By the way, I do not have a problem with Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange. The producers have apparently changed the background of her character to a Celtic mystic, as opposed to the Tibetan sorcerer that appears in the original Doctor Strange mythos. But that decision just inflates the anger over meager roles for non-white minorities.
FSMLives! (NYC)
So not just First World problems, but rich celebrity First World problems?

Start your own production company and make your own movies. If they make money, great. If not, no one to blame but yourself.

But that's not the American way, is it?
lunanoire (St. Louis, MO)
The creators of Hamilton did so, and mainstream actors were upset that they were excplicitly barred from auditions. Didn't the casting directors know that plausible deniability must be maintained?
Bruce (United States)
That's the way bruce lee did it!
TruthSeeker (Sunnyvale, CA)
Now now people, sit down and take deep breaths. We don't want Hollywood taking away whatever little they're giving us, do we ? You know what happens to squeaky wheels. They get replaced.
The solution is not to beg "white" Hollywood for more roles. The solution is to start production companies owned and controlled by asians. This nonsense about integration and diversity has gone far enough. Take control of your destiny.
Hmm (ca)
"Go make your own lunch counters instead of asking to be served here."
"Go make your own schools instead of asking to be educated here."

Is this the right analogy?
So do you say the same to unemployed white folks who are out of jobs from manufacturing companies? Build your own company. Get some financing with your unemployed buddies?
Vanamali Thotapalli (chicago, il)
Talk about running scared - the words of a coward. Don't speak up they might get angry? What a poor excuse for doing the right thing. Good thing the likes of MLK, Gandhiji and others spoke up. With your attitude we might still be under the British
Janice Schacter Lintz (New York)
Yet this is done all the time to portray people with disabilities and no one bats an eye. In fact, they win an Oscar. It is wrong here and wrong for actors to portray a person with a disability rather than hire a person with a disability.

It is time Hollywood is held accountable. This is discrimination pure and simple. #Timeforchange
Carol (Victoria, BC)
I am a 4th generation Japanese-N. American and remember feeling deformed when I looked in the mirror as a child. There were virtually no images of Asians in the media in the 50s and 60s; no models in the Sears Roebuck catalog and fashion magazines, no actors on TV or in film, other than some white guy with something painful shoved up his eyes, playing in old Charlie Chan films...

Now I am in my 60s and am disappointed to see how little has basically changed over the years. Asians are still fairly invisible. When we do appear in film or on TV we are still often depicted as just-off-the-boat foreigners; Japanese gardeners, kung-fu masters, Suzy Wongs, etc and for whatever reason yellow face still seems to be acceptable in 2016! I still don’t see myself anywhere at all.
Woodchuck (Kansas)
And yet when the "mystical kung fu master"/Fu Manchu-rip off Ancient One in "Doctor Strange" was recast to not fit that stereotype, oh, the wailing from the aggrieved Asian-American population that they were not cast in that 60's holdover stereotyped role (created by a New York Jew by the name of Stan Lee).

So you don't want the kung fu master roles...but your community doesn't want anyone else in them either.
Percy (Seattle)
Good story. Another example is the upcoming Netflix/Marvel series Iron Fist. Another example where the white savior mythology takes ruins a potentially good story.
Ryan Bingham (Up there)
You mad, bro?
Woodchuck (Kansas)
Methinks you're not actually familiar with the Iron Fist property.
Will S (Berkeley, CA)
What's crazy to me is that whitewashing even occurs in animated shows. The Diane Nguyen character in Bojack Horseman, for example, is drawn and written as a Vietnamese-American, but is voiced by Alison Brie. If you're set on having Alison Brie cast in the part, why write her as an Asian character? And if you're set on having an Asian character, why cast Alison Brie?
Sandy (Brooklyn, NYC)
Amazing. Maybe they cast her because she was the best person they trusted to play their fictional animated character. So now voice actors have to match the ethnicity of the animated characters they're playing?
Gaijin (desert southwest)
Wait, it's animated, meaning the character looks Vietnamese, but the dialogue is in English, yet you have a problem with an English speaker voicing it? Coukd you tell the difference if it was a Vietnamese American voicing it? Do you want the person to have an English second language Vietnamese accent while speaking?
avery (t)
I work out a lot. Been to many gyms. I see lots of super ripped white dudes, black dudes, and latino dudes. I've seen maybe a grand total 4 super ripped Asian dudes in my entire life (outside of martial arts movies). I have seen a few (maybe five), but that's a small number. I see lots of Asian women at the gym.

Last night, I streamed 13 Hours. Not a great movie. But a big mainstream movie. All the lead men were super ripped dudes. These days, if any major Hollywood release, you've got to be a super ripped dude. Even Kevin Hart is probably ripped.

Why don't Asian dudes pump iron? Serious question. maybe most male Asian actors don't have a Hollywood body type. Did you see Ben Stiller in Tropic Thunder? Stiller had some guns. He lifts. In general, Asian duded don't lift, bro. And you gotta lift to be a leading man.
Joren Maksho (Hong Kong)
It is not how long u make it, but how u make it long, no? Muscles are not everything. There are plenty of pudgy stars, both male and female and everything in between.
amy (Chicago)
Not every starring role requires a ripped man, and how do you explain the dearth of asian women? I'm pretty sure they have an average slimmer/more fit body than most women.

You probably just don't have as many asian men encounters compared to white men - that doesn't mean it can be assumed for the general American population.
tony (undefined)
Jonah Hill, Steve Carrell, Tom Cruise, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Oscar Isaac, Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, on and on. White? Yes. Employed? Yes. Ripped? No.
Bob (Forked River)
Just stop all this complaining stuff, acting like victims of a real crime. Just stop it. It's making me weary. Just be who you are, and if you rise to the top, you do it on your own merits.
CMD (Germany)
Try to rise to the top if you belong to a minority. You have to work harder for anything you want, and, in the end, you will possily get that mock-regretful smile (or smirk), and the news that you aren't wuite whom they need. Sure, some progress has been made in the past two, three decades, but it just is not enough. Hey, the hero in San Andreas was not a white!
Tam (Dayton, Ohio)
I wish it were that simple. I'm happy for you that there is no racism in your world, Bob!
David B (Paris, France)
I agree that white-washing is a shame, like a white actor playing Prince of Persia (although anybody should be relieved they were not involved in this thing), but why is there outrage if The Lord of the Rings, a story mainly inspired by Nordic and Celtic mythologies, only features white actors ?
neal (westmont)
Next thing you know people will complain there are not enoughs Blacks in Outlander, set in 18th C. Scotland.
John (Seattle)
It's called acting for a good reason. No one seemed to mind when Tom Hanks played a gay man in "Phildelphia". Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr are being portrayed by black men on Broadway. What if a straight man plays a transgender person? Wait Jeff Tambor is already doing that!
Kenneth (Orange County, CA)
The argument that needs to be made to Hollywood is that Asian American representation in film is necessary as Asian Americans are the fastest growing population in the United States. Asian Americans make up 5% of the population and yet only 1% are in leads, and even fewer in prominent leads. This is a far smaller proportion than African American and Latino American counterparts.

The reason this is important is that Hollywood influences the public discourse especially internationally. Hollywood has the ability to shape perceptions overseas and an Asian American presence is important.

Right now, if you go to China, Korea or Japan and if you're Asian American, people of those countries will literally say, oh, "you're not REAL American."

That's the problem.

One important step is that Asian Americans need to stop vilifying China. (I'm Taiwanese American ...) Right now, Asian Americans best shot at receiving more prominent roles is through China as China has more power and more infrastructure than Asian Americans do. Chinese producers and investors want to see more Chinese (or Asian at a minimum faces). This means that despite a political / social rift that exists between China and the US, we have to learn how to play nice or co exist with China. We need to minimize instances where for example in Fresh off the Boat, when Jessica says to push China, even though they're from Taiwan, that it becomes a China vs. Taiwan discussion and drive collaboration / not conflict.
Dan (New York)
Something is wrong with society when there is outrage over no blacks being nominated for an Oscar, but it's perfectly acceptable for a black man to belittle Asians on stage at the Oscar ceremony. If a white host got on stage and did what Chris Rock did to Asians said white man would be blacklisted from Hollywood
N. Smith (New York City)
You do remember that Chris Rock is a comic and the joke might have gone over some people's heads? -- it's possible.
There aren't many Stand-up Comics who haven't been embroiled in one scandal or another, at one time or another.
Besides, Whites have been belittling Asians, Blacks, and everyone else who's non-White for years.
C (Brooklyn)
Who said it was acceptable?
CMD (Germany)
Do you remember when Shaquille O'Neill made fun of Asians? Making those "funny" sounds as though speaking Chinese? All I can see at times is minorities taking potshots at each other instead of cooperation, which would help them to put more force into their demands.
Larry (Michigan)
Why are people of color still asking white directors and distributors to use people of color to use them. Do you remember Suzanne de Passe of Motown, who directed Lonesome Dove? She used many different actors, but the important thing is, she did it. Stop asking and create your own studios and distribution. Let them come to you for acting parts. Some people are used to seeing whites playing all roles, accepting all awards, but that will change when we make some of the rules. Everyone will get used to it.
Donna (California)
Larry; Your naivete [or ignorance] is astounding. You do realize that Lonesome Dove was decades ago and Motown in reality, is no more? The Movie Business is run by a few with billions. Your response is a typical one and rather old: "Stop asking and create your own studios and distribution'''. Right, minorities simply do not have access to the billions that Corporate Studios like Warnor Brothers and others listed below have [ courtesy of Wikipedia]" So, yes by all means- Black folks get on the stick and play catch-up"...

20th Century Fox - owned by News Corporation
Columbia Pictures - owned by Sony.
MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).
Paramount Pictures - owned by Viacom.
United Artists - purchased by MGM
Universal Studios - part of NBC Universal.
Warner Bros. - Time Warner.
Michael F (Yonkers, NY)
There are dozens if not hundreds of independent production companies. You want something in this world you have to go and get it.
Ryan Bingham (Up there)
Whose this we?
Ian Maitland (Wayzata)
Hasn't anyone noticed this is show business we are talking about? No one is what they seem. It is all illusion and artifice and impersonation and imitation and "acting" rather than actually being. It is art.

Whitewashing is just another form of impersonation among the many others that are part of the business. Either it works or it doesn't work. We all get to vote on that at the box office.

There is no reason at all in ethics or art why every Asian has to be acted by an Asian or a white by a white. That is entirely a decision that belongs to producer and directors according to their artistic lights. They are the ones who are putting their savings and their careers on the line.

Personally, I can't remember a time when I did not find whitewashing to be perplexing or ludicrous. Though I remember finding foreign devils in Chinese TV dramas played by Chinese to be (unintentionally?) hilarious.

I am afraid that Ms. Wu and her colleagues have allowed themselves to be coopted by the Times in trying to manufacture an issue where there is none in order to push the newspaper's agenda of inflaming racial resentments.
RaCh (NYC)
I didn't know having a white woman playing a character named "Ng" is considered artistic expression...
Ian Maitland (Wayzata)

When we create commissars of political correctness to dictate to us what counts as artistic expression or not will be the day art dies.
Mike (California)
I think the larger problem isn't just how few roles exist in Hollywood for, it's also the kind of roles that are offered. I cant think of many leading roles featuring asians in which the character isn't a martial artist. The only one that comes to mind is John Cho in "Selfie." Almost all roles offered to asians are characters whose primary character trait is "asian." The other problem is how Hollywood has systemically conditioned society to view asian men as sexually undesirable while at the same time, portraying asian women as fetish objects.
Avina (NYC)
"The other problem is how Hollywood has systemically conditioned society to view asian men as sexually undesirable while at the same time, portraying asian women as fetish objects."

Do we think Asian actresses should be partly to blame for allowing themselves to be consistently paired-up with Non-Asian male actors? Or should we just chalk it up as a 'necessary evil' in order for Asian actresses to get work in Hollywood and advertising? Are Asian actresses afraid to call out Hollywood on this blatant racism towards Asian men, and instead just frame it as general 'whitewashing' (when in fact it's more of a calculated diss of Asian men in particular)?
yoda (wash, dc)
Perhaps the NY Times should run another article on the more pressing discrimination Asians face into getting into Ivy League universities. Now that is racism at its best.
Dan (New York)
Perhaps an expose on how many foreign Asians at said universities are the sons and daughters of corrupt officials would also be illuminating
yoda (wash, dc)
Dan, I was referring to Asian americans, just like are referred to in the article. ANd there is considerable discrimination against them which greatly demeans their hard work and very good grades.
D.R. (U.S.)
Great point, Yoda. The NYT is constitently silent on the brazen racism Asian-American students applying to colleges face.

Too often the Times' focus on social justice revolves around the top 0.1% (women execs at ad agencies, female film directors) or celebrities.
avery (t)
It should be said that, outside of Hollywood, Asian do not have a bad image. Latinos and black people DO have a bad image. Asians are seen as highly intelligent, excellent at school, great at parenting, thin, good at non-team athletics (tennis, martial arts, even golf), great workers, good at food, not alcoholic, not drug users, and very community minded. I assume every Asian I meet went to an Ivy League college. As far as stereotypes go, it's not so bad.
RVP (St. Louis, MO)
This is the most blatantly racist nonsense I've ever read. The default assumption in our society is that the designation of beautiful or handsome automatically implies we must be referring to a white person. If you are black, brown, yellow or multi-ethnic with no caucasian blood, you are the other. If you don't actually believe that, then live in our skin. And as far as the positive stereotypes, let's face some facts. If merit, academic accomplishment, and zero bias were truly at work, the chances are pretty good that an overwhelming majority of admissions into prestigious colleges would be swallowed by East and South Asians. Of course, the sentinels of diversity work quite ferociously to keep that from happening. However, take a look at industry. If an Asian American doesn't start up her / his own business, then good luck with ascending the ranks in corporate America if it isn't the tech industry. Even there, silicon valley is chalk full of Asians, but when it comes time to go public or choose a CEO or the upper echelons, here come the white people. Academia is no better: A vast majority the best postdocs and graduate students in engineering and applied sciences are east or south Asian. You won't see those numbers reflected in the faculty hiring and certainly not in leadership roles in universities. So so much for the great benefits of "positive stereotypes". Live in my skin and feel my frustration and then this claptrap will stop.
rbyteme (waukegan, il)
That stereotype may not be bad for you, but I'm betting it irks the heck out of a lot of Asians, particularly when it seems clear the definition of Asians isn't well understood.

Are you aware that not all Asians have similar physical characteristics, or does the overachieving, overeducated stereotype now apply to Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and everyone else on that continent as well? I think you've been hoisted by your own stereotypical petard.

PS I'm white.
unam (new york)
it definitely applies to indians. which rock are you living under? bangladeshis not so much.
Petrus Van Amstel (New York)
It's not as if every country around the world doesn't have a film industry. India has Bollywood and Japan and China have long had influential film studios. American actors and white men and women couldn't be cast in the films in these countries if their lives depended on it. If a story calls for a mixed race cast to lend authenticity, or because it is essential to the plot, then it makes sense to put out a call for non-white actors. But to cast a film or television series just to be politically correct is a financial risk that may work the first two or three times. After that, it depends on star power and a compelling script. My guess is that Asian, European, Latin, and African writers are writing for their own script with whites being only an afterthought. People will watch mixed race casts because they are curious or because it is necessary to the type of story being told. Forced integration in movies and television to fulfill some sort of quota smells of political correctness.
lunanoire (St. Louis, MO)
It is strange that so many television shows take place in major cities with significant non-white populations, yet you'd never know based on the portrayals provided via casting.
Hugh (Bridgeport, CT)
Bah! Has anybody seen ABC "Agents of Shield"? Ming-Na Wen kicks butt every episode and Chloe Bennet, arguably this season's lead character, Daisy, blasts the bad guys with her seismic super powers. Bennet is only Chinese on her father's side; I wonder if that counts as some minor form of whitewashing.
Alvin C (VA)
I could really appreciate the outrage if there were not already MASSIVE Chinese and Indian movie industries. I would bet that the majority of movie roles in the world go to Asian actors.
Kolya (Nyc)
Uh... The actors/actresses in this article are AMERICANS. If they have to join the Hong Kong movie union, then the white Americans need to go to London or Stockholm.
Johnny Quan (CA)
All due respect, we Asian-Americans are different people than Asian people from Asia. Movies from Asia depict the lives of Asian people, and therefore do not represent Asian-Americans.
Honolulu (honolulu)
Alvin C, there's a difference between the Asian American actors described in the article and the Chinese and Indian actors in China and India.
Carlos R. Rivera (Coronado CA)
"Another tip: “An easy way to avoid tokenism? Have more than one” character of color, she tweeted in March. “Not so hard.”"

So, then, she concurs that television featuring Crips, Bloods, MS13, etc., is not by its nature tokenism, as they quite openly feature characters of color.
AR Clayboy (Scottsdale, AZ)
Wow! I sense the formation of "Minority Actors' Lives" This piece, and the accompanying piece on how terrible it is to be a anything other than a straight white man in Hollywood both make me feel so very, very sad. Not really!

I have never heard so many stories of people being morally upbraided by the simple fact that the world will not honor their personal sliding scales of racial and gender relativism. When it suits them, they want parts that are reserved for their "type" and they will be angered if the selected actor does not measure up to their view of the type. At other times, they want parts to be identity neutral. No matter what happens, there is some whiny story of exclusion and discrimination. Indeed, there seem to be so few straight white men in Hollywood, I'm surprised they have not formed a group to lobby for a bigger piece of they pie. Perhaps they believe that actors playing straight men should be straight. Who knows?

Most fundamentally, these people are far too vain, self-absorbed and self-important to hear how silly they sound. Hollywood takes itself far too seriously, which is why one hit movie entitles Hollywood types to dictate what our culture should be and tell us how we all should live. Did I actually read that Angelina Jolie will be teaching at Oxford or the London School of Economics? Really?

Get over it, and while your at it, see if you help your colleagues in the recording industry to get over it, as well.
McDiddle (San Francisci)
Start with yourself.
Anonymous (NYC)
While I agree that Asians are regularly discriminated against in Hollywood, we are ignoring a couple of facts that contribute to the ongoing discrimination: (1) acting and performing was always seen as a "low class" activity in East Asian culture. Traditionally, acting/dancing/entertaining is what prostitutes, geishas, criminals, and the poor did in order to earn a living. Few Asian immigrants who arrive in the U.S. want themselves or their children to follow a profession that can cause the family to "lose face". Obviously, with these kinds of cultural beliefs, first and second generation Asian Americans are not exactly beating down the doors of Hollywood studios demanding a job. (2) Asians have one of the highest rates of interracial marriages in the U.S. Most Asian immigrants have grandchildren who are mixed race. These mixed race children harbor fewer prejudices against the dramatic arts and are well-represented in Hollywood. Unfortunately, they often retain few visible "Asian" traits and are cast as white, black, Latino actors (eg, Olivia Munn, Keanu Reeves, Tyson Beckford). If Asians entered the entertainment industry at the same rate that we enter the tech industry, "whitewashing" and racial discrimination would be less of an issue than it is today.
avery (t)
I almost never seen Asian men with non-Asian women. I very often see Asian women with non-Asian men.
Dan (New York)
Daniel Dae Kim has non asian partners on hawaii 5-0
Female (Ohio)
Good observation, Avery. I believe it is because we are dealing with the white male gaze. Hollywood recreates the world according to the white male view and shows us what he wants to see. It is why the camera lingers on a woman's perky chest rather than a man's, etc.
ZL (Boston)
I don't quite know how I feel about all Asians being grouped into a single category...
Katie (San Francisco)
I appreciate the New York Time's coverage of this issue. Asians need to be better represented in movies and TV, period. The lack of diversity is embarrassing to watch. This probably explains my dismissal of so much of the drivel I see out there---none of it even comes close to the diversity I experience every day living in a major city in the U.S. I see Aziz Ansari leading the way as a new generation of Asians taking control of the way our stories are told, and doing it in a way that feels refreshingly normal. Why was Masters of None so well received? Because Ansari and his fellow Asian American writer didn't succumb to age old emasculated cliches of Asian males, female stereotypes, and embarrassing depictions of accented-immigrant parents. Instead, they show the complexity of living in a multicultural world, in an authentic way that respects the intelligence of its viewer. The audience in America is changing. We need to have stories that showcases this.
AJ (Noo Yawk)
"Devil in a Blue Dress?" An absolutely riveting, classic, top notch movie that happened to have a virtually all African American cast. What did Hollywood do with it? Market it to African Americans and leave the rest of America largely out of the equation.

Just wait till the next Academy Award nominations! There's sure to be plenty of hand wringing. And then? Well...then we'll wait for the next Academy Award nominations. But hey, maybe the next host for the Academy Awards will be Asian. That should be enough. Right?
Paul (Canada)
Hollywood, like advertising (where I toil), is owned and operated by white, male suits. And suits are so very often, and so absurdly, an anti-creative force in these two otherwise highly creative industries. Suits have the money, the power and shot-calling dibs, and they hate to take a chance on anything new and risky (or edgy, as they like to say), lest it not succeed and they look bad to their superior suits and investors. They can never forget that if that happens, there are plenty of new, younger, less-chance-taking suits who are very happy to replace them. If non-white people are to get more roles and more power in these industries, they're going to have to do a Daniel Dae Kim and create their own power systems suited to delivering on their needs. The sooner the better. My pasty, fearful race has shown its true colours long enough. I wish its most powerful members, especially in the entertainment/ad/media universes, would either to move the hell aside or chuck their biases and fears about minorities and the alternate story lines that can come with them, and welcome all new voices and creative talents, letting them rise or fail on the strength of their individual merits.

Like that's gonna happen.
bp (Alameda, CA)
I'd like to say that's mighty white of them, but some black-hearted people might get on my case. After all, we all know that discrimination based on skin color is not and has never been ingrained in western civilization.
Jeremy (Washington, DC)
Phew! I was worried the NYT might fail to get yet another vapid piece on offended minorities or pop culture on their front page today. But they did both in one article, and with lots of pretty pictures too! What a relief!

Seriously, setting aside the fact that this article bizarrely champions a form of outright self-interested racism, what's not mentioned here is that all of these shows and movies are awful, tasteless, idiotic garbage made exclusively for profit. Forget about filling these roles with minorities; it would be a better world if such roles didn't exist at all. What other worthless job roles will have their lack of diversity bemoaned by the New York Times? Right-wing talk radio hosts? For-profit prison administrators? The papacy?

With "newspapers of record" like these, who needs tabloids?
TruthSeeker (Sunnyvale, CA)
You're right, sir. There is no use fretting and whining about this. Asians need to band together and invest capital to start their own production companies where Asian actors and technicians would get preferential treatment.
We could even have the Pope played by an Asian actor...Now that would be something, huh ?
Avina (NYC)
While Asian actors may be invisible in American film, TV and advertising, Asian actors are much more 'invisible' than their Asian actress counterparts. Perhaps that too will one day be a conversation...why Asian actors are portrayed so differently, and much less often, than their Asian female counterparts. Asian males, when portrayed in American film/TV/advertising, are often love-less or gay. Asian actresses on the other hand, are almost always shown with a love interest, and a non-Asian one at that. Why is it that Asian actresses are now speaking out about 'invisible Asians' (and trying to show that they support their Asian male actor counterparts), but not speaking out about who they themselves (the Asian actresses) are usually paired-up with romantically? Maybe in fact these actresses have less of a problem with this fact, and would rather not acknowledge the obvious 'diss' to Asian men in this area?
Mellisme (Toronto)
Avina, the main reason for this is the same reason for why black females are invisible compared to their male counterparts. Marvel had many black male "sidekicks" and one lead in the latest Captain America, but no black females.

It's a matter of how runs things: white males. White males find value in Asian females (as sexual fetish/stereotypical feminine), but not Asian males. Likewise, they find value in black males (living vicariously through their masculinity), but not black females (whom they are less to romanticize).

It's a frustrating situation that perhaps requires a changing of the guards; or, at the very least, a diversified workplace.

For all the whites who say things like, "why don't minorities make their own creative properties?", well here is an example of them doing just that, but still finding themselves EXCLUDED.
Avina (NYC)
Mellisme: I agree 100%. There are very clear ideas about what makes men attractive vs women, and often these run along racial lines. This is why we tend to see 'patterns' in the inter-racial couples out there...whether it's lots of Asian women dating non-Asian men, or black pro-ball players with white wives. None of this is 'coincidental'.

I'd like to see more variety in the inter-racial couples out there, but unfortunately it's still the same old trends for the most part. Which to me points to many people still thinking of light skin as a 'status symbol' and/or more 'feminine' (for women), with darker skin seen as more 'masculine' (to the benefit of black men, but the detriment for black women). Couple that with self-hate about one's own heritage or race ....
JS (New York, NY)
When there is the token black or the token Asian - the default for Hollywood is male for black and Asian for female.

Case in point the shows "ER" and "Grey's Anatomy" - 2 medical drams which, if actually based on reality, would have had more Asian-American physicians and fewer African-American doctors.

But the 2 Asian doctors in ER and the 1 in GA were all female and b/c couldn't have more than one major Asian character - all ended up with black romantic interests (not that there is anything wrong with that - but pretty humorous how it all worked out the same).

Doubt if anyone can recall Lucy Liu ever playing an Asian-American role with an Asian romantic interest.

Daniel Dae Kim didn't get his 1st on-screen kiss until "Lost" - after he had spent years in the industry and even at that, he had to play a foreigner.
Doug (New Mexico)
If a movie or television show is based on a historical event or period, the casting should be based on the cultural identity of the actual people involved (e.g., "Roots", "The Color Purple", etc.).

But when there is no historical accuracy that needs to be maintained, give actors/actresses a chance rather than pre-ordain the casting of the role. Yes, Yes, I know, it's all about the money and the bankability of the star. However, I've seen enough big-star bombs (can you say "Ishtar") to know that it isn't all about the casting.

I had almost (but not quite) forgotten how good an actor BD Wong ("M Butterfly") was until he re-surfaced in Gotham this year.

And when I see certain actors (most notably Ted Danson recently) just get re-circulated through a number of tv shows as though they deserve the role, it makes me wonder do the producers/casting directors even consider anyone else?

I'm not advocating for equal representation or even proportional representation, just give us some variety!
LM (New York)
Can we also stop grouping all people who are Asian together (both here and in census/demographic data collections)? Asia is not a monolith in any respect. Moreover, many Asian countries are themselves very diverse. For example, in India (where my family is originally from) there is enormous sociopolitical, linguistic and yes, ethnic and genetic diversity. I honestly don't feel like my experience as the US-born daughter of well-educated, English-speaking, academia-employed Indian immigrants is similar to that of a US-born daughter of poor Vietnamese immigrants who spoke no English and were forced to work menial jobs upon arriving here. Additionally, from a health perspective - an angle I find particularly irritating - there is NO similarity in terms of how I should be treated and, say, a Chinese-American, in spite of being grouped together as "Asian-Americans."
Me too.
"Do you speak Asian?"
"That's not a language. I speak Cantonese."
"Oh! Konnichiwa!"

I have to deal with these a lot. I wish that we were Chinese/Sino-American, Japanese-American, Korean-American, etc.
bp (Alameda, CA)
You're wrong, there is a similarity between all Asian peoples - they all are discriminated against by Caucasians.
Female (Ohio)
The point is not that all Asians are the same. The point is that they, like African Americans, face discrimination in Hollywood due to their race. It is something they share and they are right to speak with one voice. Maybe if more Asian actors got roles, there would be movies that show the differences between the newly arrived Vietnamese immigrant and the third generation Indian American college professor. Until that day, Asian actors, regardless of ancestry, are too often playing the same part: a guy who is out of work.
Ryan Bingham (Up there)
Well, good. Now that we have that figured out only white people can play white roles from now on, Asians can only play Asian roles, and Black only Black roles.

Anyone one up for a karaoke version of Aaron Burr the musical?
John (New York)
Asian American activists as outraged bloggers or having a white actor play a Lakhota Native American on Tina Fey's "Unbreakable:Kimmy Schmidt" highlights that some in Hollywood just don't get why minorities would be offended and are willing to make a joke out of it.
But lets follow the money, movies like "Star Wars" or "Fast & Furious" or even the T.V series "Heroes" put minorities together in lead roles, and reaped the rewards. The ones who didn't, "God's of Egypt" anyone?
Slann (CA)
" I am listening and learning.” Right, although at this point, your casting of a VERY white woman to take the role of what was supposed to be an old Tibetan monk is de post facto lip service.
I was always amused John Cho took the role of what was supposed to be a Japanese man. Mr. Cho doesn't look Japanese. Hair-splitting? Perhaps, but I saw that as a slight against the original (and still the greatest) Sulu, Geoge Takei.
There ARE excellent Japanese and Japanese-Amercian actors available.
doy1 (NYC)
The Mr. Sulu character on Star Trek was meant to be pan-Asian, representing a future in which global peace would lead to more intermarriage. Certainly "Sulu" is not a Japanese name. And btw, George Takei approved John Cho for the role for this very reason.
See, this is where the argument gets confusing. If we want to open up more opportunities for Asian actors to get traditionally non-Asian roles beyond "the Asian guy" then we need to also be OK with non-Asians playing Asians as well. Otherwise, the argument will always be that the Asian person doesn't look "blond enough, white enough, etc.) for a role.
Glenn Baldwinv (Bella Vista, Ar)
So now if the source material is Asian, as with "Ghost in the Shell", the actors in domestic versions should be Asian or it's somehow offensive? By those lights "The Departed" (US, 2006), based as it was on "Infernal Affairs" (Hong Kong, 2002) should have featured an all Asian cast. Then again, Akira Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" (Japan, 1957) was based on Macbeth (UK, 1623); maybe it should have featured Scottish actors.
cesar leon (mexico)
ghost in the shell location is japan, the departed is in USA, Throne of blood was in feudal japan, the source material is not the most important stuff, the location says a lot of what kind of actors you expect.
Ms.kiju (PA)
About time. The talent and market is there as evidenced by Bollywood and the Korean Wave. No one wants to be marginalized forever.
fredf (dc)
I agree with the need for an injection of diversity in Hollywood, particularly among Asian-American actors.

But getting tired of the inclusion of Ghost in the Shell as an example of this, here and elsewhere, which smacks of "people haven't actually read the book before complaining." The argument against Ghost in the Shell is that they're human-appearing characters of Japanese nationality so they should be played by Asian-American actors. But all the characters in Ghost in the Shell except for two (Togusa and Aramaki) are completely cyborg with prosthetic bodies in a post-racial world where they can take on any appearance they wish. In the most recent Ghost in the Shell: Arise, one of the lead villains opted to take the appearance of an apparent coffee maker (?). To say that they should be played by Asian cast members just because they're Japanese robots doesn't make much sense. And what significance is it if Scarlett Johansson was given a black bob? If anything it's an oversight because in the anime, the character Motoko Kusanagi has a purple bob. Of the two remaining humans in the film, one of them has actually been cast as Japanese actor Takeshi Kitano (as Daisuke Aramaki).
Eric Schubert (Los Angeles)
Good point. And with anime and manga it is important to remember that the stories are not all meant to represent Japanese people specifically. A lot of work post-WWII has been made as a cultural export (anime, manga & toys) that are purposely ethnically ambiguous in order to appeal to a global market—the USA being one of the biggest consumers of this content.
I am Japanese. You do realize that most Japanese people are probably OK, if not completely excited that a big name Hollywood star like Scarlett J would want to play a Japanese role. In fact, if another non-Japanese person were to play the role, you will definitely hear a groan, "but she's not even Japanese!" Race/identity politics outside of the US are sometimes a bit different.
Gaijin (desert southwest)
Preach it!!! Someone who actually knows something about ANIME and manga and Ghost in the Shell.
Robert (Canada)
"So some are stepping behind the camera. In addition to actors creating their own shows,..."

That's the solution. Complaining is not the solution. If you don't like something, don't use/buy/watch it, or make your own. If other people are making things and you are buying/using/watching them, they actually you are perfectly fine with what they are doing.

We don't need a massive, meaningless session of navel-gazing. Let people watch what they want to watch. Make more Asian-centered shows yourself if you are unhappy, and then let people watch them if they choose.
Jeremy (Hong Kong)
Totally. It's a simple matter of raising a bunch of money, getting all the production resources, making the show, and then having it air where people can actually see it, perhaps after persuading an executive to drop his corporation's bias against shows without prominent white people. It's easy. Enough navel-gazing, already!
MJ (California)
I think you are missing this point. The point is , why are native americans, hawaiians , asians, tibetans, characters plaid by white people ? Why are characters that were written to be asians suddenly morph into caucasian characters. why can't asians or black actors play "a girl named Mary" instead of "Mary the asian girl or a "Mary , the black girl". Stereotypical roles also reinforce the stereotypes. If you only see muslims portrayed as terrorists as opposed to doctors, that is what you will associate them with. And it is not helping.
Kolya (Nyc)
If the role explicitly is about slavery, the rio grande, medieval england, or Kung fu, then it's ethnically accurate.
Anything else gets defaulted to white: a non ethnic rom-com with any white actress? The male suitor is always white. God forbid Laz Alonso hooks up with Scarlett johansson! Why can't Constance Wu be a manic pixie who falls for Chris Evans?
Autumn Flower (Boston, MA)
I rarely watch Hollywood movies. I find them annoying with stereotypes, unbelievable plots, etc. I much prefer foreign movies and independent films that are much more realistic and believable in plots and how the actors look. I also don't have a TV, because Netflix suits me fine for what I watch. I guess this is my response for not seeing people and stories I can relate to from Hollywood. The past couple of decades have many movies that cater to white teenage boys in their humor and intelligence. Not entertainment to me!
L (Massachusetts)
I've had a Netflix subscription since the company started. I rented movies from stores before that. Many Americans rent movies, 61% don't go to movie theaters anymore.

Supply and demand. Production companies will "green light" productions they know will make money. The US now as a very sizable "minority" population. And women are not a minority.

I'm no longer interested in watching films with entirely white lead roles, films cast with a female love interest decades younger than the male lead actor, films with entirely male major casts and a sprinkling of small female roles, or films with obviously token minority minor characters.

We rent mostly independent and foreign films. There a lot of really great films produced in the Asian, South American, and African countries. Really interesting stories and characters, great writing, direction, cinematography and art direction. Films without car chases and explosions to make up for a weak story like so many "Hollywood" films.

True, most of the foreign films are in their native language with English subtitles. We can read. And we can pause and rewind if we missed something.

Thousands of movies are made all around the world. If more Americans watched those films, the major Hollywood studios would respond.
Pdxtran (Minneapolis)
YES! I am so over action flicks and gross-out comedies and cinematized video games aimed at dimwitted 15-year-olds.

The world at large makes a wealth of absorbing, well-crafted stories for both the large and small screen. Netflix is a great source, but so are AcornTV (the English-speaking world outside the U.S.), MHz Choice (Continental European TV), and Hulu Plus (the entire Criterion Collection, at least until Criterion launches its own service later this year, and a lot of foreign films and TV).
Mike NYC (NYC)
One problem is that Asian men are not permitted to play men with sex appeal. Why? Perhaps it's that many Americans believe that too be the case. My own half Asian niece said she could never go on a date with an Asian boy because they're too geeky. And (thank goodness this is anonymous), as someone who has perused gay personal ads, it's absolutely shocking the number of posts that specify "whites only," or even more explicitly, "no Asians." Hollywood has an outsize influence on social norms and could play a big part in initiating change, but since we live and die by the bottom line in this country, they have to give the rubes what the rubes want to see. All this will change as the races intermingle more, but maybe not fast enough for some people. Like me. I've been hearing this same lament since the 80's.
Avina (NYC)
Your half-Asian niece...I'm guessing it's the mother who's Asian? You say that all this negative stereotyping about Asian men will change as the races intermingle more. However, so long as the intermingling is heavily skewed in one direction only (i.e., Asian women preferring to date non-Asian men, while 'non one' wants to date Asian men) it won't change anything and will only perpetuate ideas of what makes for attractive men. It's not that we need to see more inter-mingling of the races, but more 'variety' in the inter-mingling (i.e., we need to see more Asian men with non-Asian women, and more black women with non-black men)....only then will we know things are really changing...
Michelle (Nevada)
""One problem is that Asian men are not permitted to play men with sex appeal. ""
In the category of an exception to every generalization, may I say that Hawaii Five O may be a very silly show, but one good reason to watch it is to see the VERY hot Mr. Kim.
Mike NYC (NYC)
How'd you guess? Asian mother, Euro father. Totally agree with everything you said.
Tantamount (Bournemouth)
Even in "Kung Fu", a white man, David Carradine, played a Chinese monk and a lead character. It was a joke. Carradine didn't know anything about Kung Fu, but slow motion covered his inaptness.
Ryan Bingham (Up there)
It's called "acting".
Same in Kung-Fu Panda. Out of the 7 main characters, only 2- and the ones with almost no lines- are Asians: Lucy Liu (Viper) and Jackie Chan (Monkey). The other ones are white. Granted, this is an animation, but still.
KL (San Francisco, CA)
And remember who they rejected for the role in favor of Carradine? None other than Bruce Lee...
Connie (Mountain View, CA)
A couple of months ago, I watched a mostly Asian cast perform "Aubergine". Brilliant play written by a new playwright on my watch list: Julia Cho. The use of occasional Korean words & Korean foods only highlighted the universal truths in the human experiences of love and death. It was performed at Berkeley, but it was so fresh and powerful that critics from other cities flew in to review it, including the LA Times. It's too bad that large productions such as movies don't believe they can take a chance on anything outside the largely white male experience. Too much money at stake I suppose. We all are the poorer for it.
MEH (Ashland, Oregon)
Another example of this is "Vietgone," by Qui Nguyen, the current hit at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The amazing actors are Asian American, if not Vietnamese. It is both historical in its representation of the Vietnamese war and its aftermath and timely in its nuanced and universal exploration of wartime immigrant experience.
Honolulu (honolulu)
Connie, I've resorted to independent and foreign films to get the varied characters, cultures, countries, and stories I find entertaining. The formulaic Hollywood movies are often over-rated.
Tk421 (11102)
For everyone arguing that audiences worldwide prefer whites to Asians, we'll never actually know until audiences are actually given the chance to judge. Making assumptions about China's reception to Asian actors in US films when the US film industry hasn't ever delivered said product to China is ludicrous.
Lesley (Yukon)
It would be wonderful if we lived in a world of colour blind casting but we don't and it must be galling for actors of colour to see roles that speak to their ethnicity being tweaked to allow white actors to be cast. It speaks to the serious risk aversion - not to mention lack of imagination- exemplified by Hollywood movies, in particular but all popular culture in general. Movies that are outside the norm in terms of cast - Bridesmaids, the Fast and Furious movies - can be highly successful but they don't seem to inspire many others to follow in their wake. But a movie with robots from another planet ( and I do like movies with robots from another planet)- that's a bandwagon we can all feel comfortable jumping on. Fight that good fight, Asian actors!
JXG (Athens, GA)
Enough already. You want to see yourself in movies, make the movies yourself and stop whining. The reality is that in this country the majority of the population is white and even movies made by nonwhites feature white actors. You do not like it, then move to a country where the majority of the population is your race. But you will see the same Hollywood moves being shown there, too. This race thing is totally out of control. Why do whites bother you? Are you jealous?
Anon (.)
This needs to be pinned, so the world can see what toxic ignorance looks like.
Jeremy (Hong Kong)
Do you know what this sounds like?

People who aren't white challenging racial bias and speaking their minds = Whining.

White people complaining when people who aren't white speak their minds = Keeping it real in this totally PC world. Sticking it to the thought police. Awesome free speech.

Here's what I see: People who aren't white put up with all kinds of garbage from white people. If they dare say anything in response, some white people freak out as if they were personally under attack.

The message seems to be: White speech is special, and when anyone else speaks it's an attack.

Alvin (Pittsburgh)
Ok folks move along, please don't feed the troll. Trolls like JXG are nourished by their anger and the angry responses of others--the hate and anger is all they have.
Ann Marie (Boston)
Perhaps a part of this campaign might include calling out those non-Asian actors who take roles originally conceived as Asian, and/or asking them to think more carefully about the entirety of the stories in which they take part. That might actually lead to a more accurate representation of our diverse population, so that this generation of actors becomes the last to have to fight this battle.

It horrifies me that while my son goes to a school of incredible diversity, he has to search long and hard to see himself represented at all in popular culture. Perhaps we won't have to wait too long until that's not the case.
Same, except that I am the student.
Eric (New York)
Hollywood is a victim of its own success in many facets. It has stop producing original works in movies and stays closely to a certain receipt that ensures audience attendance and profit. Does Hollywood need a different strategy and reasons to branch out allowing other ethnicities and skin colors into the mix, yes. However, the behemoth that is Hollywood is slow to move and even slower to think they are weakening their position. Hollywood has become out of touch with the developing urbanization and multiculturalism of the US. That is the issue at stake here. And a bigger question, Does Hollywood and other organizations need to branch out? The answer is yes but sadly we seem stuck and used to seeing stereotypes of each other on tv and in movies.
Robert (Canada)
Film is the ultimate example of an industry that exists on people's subjective preferences. They have no incentive to prevent non-white actors from working or featuring. They have a very clear strong incentive to produce what people want to watch.

If people want to watch white people (which even seems to be the case in Asian countries themselves), that is who will be casted. There is nothing surprising or notable about this. Bollywood actors/actresses are basically all very fair skinned. Japaneses anime is largely white-appearing characters. Same with African media. This is not new.

It's media, let them show whoever they want. There is no role for affirmative action here. Asians enroll in Ivy League universities at far higher rates per capita than anyone else. The affirmative action there to limit them and promote others (such as African Americans) has no place either.
Eo (NYC)
When they got rid of affirmative action in California, the number of white people in the CA system fell precipitously. As a black person, I am against AA because so few of us use it, and it isn't worth it to me to see a Asian person kept out and a white person pulled in, under the guise of affirmative action.
Victor (San Francisco, CA)
This argument presupposes that the industry has provided viewing audiences with sufficient examples (of comparable scope and quality) featuring white and non-white actors from which people can really express what they "want to watch". The point is that if Asian actors are not even given the chance to have meaty roles in Hollywood movies where the source material itself would call for Asian actors due to industry biases/legacy practices/timidness, then how can audiences and industry actually judge the rewards and incentives? It just becomes an echo chamber of false "conventional wisdom".
Kolya (Nyc)
"If people want to watch white people (which even seems to be the case in Asian countries themselves)..."
That's cute.
I like to go driving thru small towns. Tend to run across little mom and pop stores with ice cream. I love ice cream, all sorts, but pistachio is my absolute favorite. Well guess what? A lot of these small shops don't carry pistachio so I SETTLE for chocolate. Sometimes strawberry. Still good, but not as good as what I really wanted.
Raymond (CA)
While the article has a good point about Asian actors being underrepresented, the view that actors and roles should be paired for ethnicity - Chinese actor plays a Chinese character - is not necessarily the best thing. This would preclude shows such as Hamilton - which has black and Latino actors playing "old white guys" - and also lead to potentially fewer roles for Asians - e.g. no Asians playing Shakespeare. Hamilton's success beyond the typical theater going crowd is partly due to the use of non- white characters and maybe this is a good signal for Hollywood and Tvland that non-white actors can make a show appealing to a larger audience.
bern (La La Land)
Asian-American Actors Are Fighting for Visibility. They Will Not Be Ignored. Why not?
Gerhard (NY)
The top rated comment , by KL NYC, shows that many NY Times readers do not understand how the movie business operates.

Take a recent example: The Martian. Golden Globe award.

The Martian's domestic earning was $228,433,663 equal to 36.2% of its world wide earnings. The Martians foreign earning was $401,728,227 equal to 63.8% of total earnings. Of the foreign earnings, the single largest market was China where the film earned $94,932,731.

In Hollywood, you are paid on your ability to put buts into seats. World wide.


1. Hollywood casts movies not for US audiences but for worldwide audiences

2. Of the foreign audiences, China is the largest market, by far.

Chinese moviegoers have plenty opportunity to see outstanding Asian actors. If they select a foreign movie, they are interested in seeing an American Asian actor, only she/he is a domestic Chinese star as well.
Phillip T. (Berlin)
Show me numbers: population, consumption, casting, etc.
dlobster (California)
I wish Hollywood would trust it's audience. People want to see all kinds of stories, including seeing Asian or non-white actors in leading roles, playing the every man role.
My high school students are already watching Korean, Taiwanese, or Japanese dramas, Brazilian telenovelas, or British dramas, where they do a slightly better job of casting non-white actors in leading roles. Some of my students were watching "The Hollow Crown", and were thrilled to see Sophie Okonedo, a bi-racial actress, play Queen Margaret of Anjou.
So Hollywood, try not to get left behind. Not only because a younger generation of movie audiences will demand it, but also because the Chinese and Indian audience will become a bigger part of your international market.
Kathleen (Anywhere)
I object to the term whitewashing, as it seems to blame all white people. I don't decide what movies are made or who acts in them. Were there to be a boycott of movies without Asian-American actors in roles specifically written for Asians or without a diverse cast, I would respect it. My impression, and I hope that others will correct me if I am wrong, is that the target audience for most movies is those who will spend money to see a new movie repeatedly; i.e., teenagers, and, in particular, teenaged boys.

My family and I have enjoyed many subtitled movies originally produced for Asian audiences and that would be even more enjoyable as movies in which Asian-Americans acted the roles and spoke English for the broader audience. Why Hollywood hasn't remade more movies proven popular with Asian audiences is a mystery, as that would seem to be a no-brainer.

Human nature being what it is, perhaps what is needed is for the government to step in, offering bigger tax breaks or other incentives for movies actually reflecting the diversity of the American population. Better yet, a film agency such as Britain's BBC could be publicly funded to produce films that would otherwise not be made.
Cheryl Tunt (Z)
I don't think you're understanding the term whitewashing if you feel it applies to all white people - to me, it clearly applies to those who are in charge of casting these films. It's a little bit playing the victim to assume it has anything to do with you, an open-minded consumer.
Wait, government intervention for movies to reflect the American population? I'd love to see that formula! Some efforts need to be left to the American population in all it's diversity to figure out.
mishabear (51st state)
"Why Hollywood hasn't remade more movies proven popular with Asian audiences is a mystery, as that would seem to be a no-brainer."

They do...but they STILL whitewash them first to varying degrees of success. Examples: The Departed, which finally won Scorsese an Oscar, is a whitewashed version of the Hong Kong (not Japanese) film, Infernal Affairs. The Ring is a whitewashed version of Ringu, the Japanese horror film. Oldboy was a much less successful whitewash (though directed by Spike Lee) of the cult classic Korean movie.
Jules (NJ)
"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."
I do think that the "whitewashing" described in this article is abhorrent, (especially Emma Stone playing an Asian/Hawaiian), but the data presented are really meaningless without additional information. What percentage of actors are Asian? If it is 5.4% or more, then there ought to be more Asian characters. Also, more than half of films having zero Asian characters doesn't preclude the other 40-50% from having 100% Asian casts.
Poor use of statistics
George Haig Brewster (New York City)
Why shouldn't Emma Stone play Asian/Hawaiian? Actors play characters of other races all the time. Have you seen Hamilton? Should someone like Chiwetel Ejiofor or Dev Patel not be allowed to play Hamlet? Would that be 'abhorrent' to you as well?
Al (Seattle)
@George: It wouldn't be abhorrent if Asians were more represented in the media than they are now. I grew up watching Mako play six different Koreans on MASH. Things are marginally better now.
Kolya (Nyc)
I don't think the author felt the need to spell out the obvious. Half the films have 0. The other half has near 0.
john (brooklyn)
About 75 percent of breakdowns that come out call for roles now specify "Asian/Latino/black". It's been this way for almost 3 years now. "Diverse Only" "All ethnicities except Caucasian" and the like are abundant in breakdowns. I wish people would face reality and what is really going on. Instead, these people cling to old frustrations that simply aren't reality anymore.
alex (chicago)
All fair points but as an Asian American, it behooves more of us Asian American activists to realize the divides/connections that exist between us and "immigrant/native/1st generation" Asians (either in the U.S. or especially outside the U.S.) Firstly, most of them are completely unaware of or uninterested in Asian American political consciousness. Most "should" but also have unique experiences we that do not fit neatly within the sometimes uniformizing politics of (2nd generation/"native American") Asian America. Gains for Asian Americans in the U.S. do not necessarily translate into similar gains for "native" Asians (many of whom continue to (no doubt ad infinitum) immigrate/study/travel in the U.S. Addressing this disjuncture is less spoken of from it seems, however.
Paulo (Europe)
Hollywood has dropped all pretense about making art and is all about the money. Is race part of that equation? If so or if not, then it is consumers, not Hollywood that dictates.
Robert (Canada)
Quite right. They show what people want to watch. Identifying demand and meeting that demand is a foreign idea to liberals. If people want to see a bunch of Asians in movies and TV, that is what will be produced. Forcing it by some other means, will not result in Asians being casted more. It will just result in people seeking other things to watch.
Jon F (Minnesota)
It is perfectly legitimate to complain about white actors playing roles in Asian stories or settings that would make more sense if an Asian played the role. Similarly it is stupid to complain that there weren't enough Asian actors in the Lord of the Rings.
Robert (Canada)
It doesn't matter if it would make more sense. What matters is the quality of the product. If people are turned off by whites in Asian roles, Asians will be casted. But they aren't, so they aren't.
G (California)
Kevin Feige would have been better off saying nothing. "We've switched a bunch of roles to suit the actors we wanted to hire" entirely misses the point of the criticism leveled against his studio.

At some point you have to stop doing damage control and justifying blind decision-making. You have to own up to your mistakes. Feige and the idiots who approved (of) the brain-dead Oscars jokes have to open their eyes and admit they screwed up.
Robert (Canada)
But they didn't screw up. They made choices in a free society, which they are free to do. If you people don't like it, they won't watch. But evidently people do not object, as the content still makes plenty of money.
G (California)
Forgive me, Robert, but you missed the point as badly as Feige did. Financial returns and popularity are not the issue. What Asian Americans are calling for is for Hollywood to stop dismissing Asian American performers out of hand when the time comes to cast.

Feige and other producers are legally free, as you say, to cast whom they like. We, by the same token, are free to ask, pointedly and loudly, that Feige and his colleagues stop rewriting Asian characters to suit white actors, and instead that they try harder to cast Asian Americans.

And as another commenter asked, if all you see on the menu is steak and fried chicken, how do you know you like (or don't like) pasta primavera or fish tacos or a myriad of other options you aren't being offered? In this case we're talking about an entire industry offering essentially the same menu. Broaden the menu, is all Hollywood is being asked to do.
Newsflash: People are the same all over. Ever heard Asian people in Asian countries mock white people for their appearance, speech, personal habits and barbaric tastes?

Ever seen what the choice is for the token white person in a made-in-Asia film?

Ever observed the struggles of the unfashionable-per-the-standards-of-the-moment white girl or guy trying to get an acting role? Condemned to being the wallflower or the geek sidekick or the pathetic loser?

When you come from a particular perspective, you blame everything on your narrowly-focused grievances instead of recognizing that most people are dealing with similar prejudices in trying to get ahead. The girl with brown hair repeatedly rejected as "mousy." Etc. etc. etc. The attractive guy who looks "too Jewish." (And who finds that particularly galling because he's maybe, say, Armenian or Lebanese...) The girl with an overbite and not lucky enough to be Cate Blanchett and who therefore must spend a fortune on orthodontia in order to get any roles at all?

When did life suddenly become fair and equitable? Who decided only white people are riven with prejudice against others?

Hollywood is a greedy cesspool. It always has been. When did this become news?
Jae (Maryland)
Well said and I completely agree. It pains me that someone actually complained about lack of Asian actors in the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) movies. For Pete's sake, Tolkien wanted to write a mythology series for his home countey, England. While I agree that it is sad that Hollywood would hire Caucasian actors to play roles that were Asian in the original source material, doesn't that same rule apply to the criticism of the LOTR movies?
In this day and age I cannot believe Ms. Wu could be so unaware of this issue. It is rather shocking, really.
Asian men are mostly ignored in movies, TV and media In general. Or they are treated as non-entity, passive characters.

On the other hand, Asian women tend to be presented as sex objects or romantic partners of white men.

Blackhat, starring Chris Hemsworth, is a recent example. Although the story takes place in Asia, the "hero" is a white man. And an Asian woman is "his"
romantic interest.

The system is not fair in its depiction and treatment of Asians - ie Asian men as non-entities and Asian women as sex objects for white men.
MM (New York)
This discussion is exhausting.
Avina (NYC)
It's interesting that we now have some Asian actresses standing up for Asian actors as a whole, but yet I've not heard any complaints from them (i.e., Sandra Oh?) about who they are typically paired-up with romantically, whether in TV, film or advertising. Maybe these Asian women don't want to bring up this point because they are a part of the problem...they themselves often preferring non-Asian men for a romantic partner. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Either way it seems no one wants to acknowledge the fact that most Asian actresses in the U.S. are paired with non-Asian actors. This can't be pure coincidence...and if the Asian actresses themselves had any racial pride, they call out on the studio heads, ad agencies, etc., on this very real racism against Asian males.
JS (New York, NY)
When not using Asian-American actresses, Hollywood has a long-standing tradition of importing actresses from Asia to play the "love interest" of the white male protagonist and when they import Asian actors - it's pretty much for action/martial arts roles (with no romantic interest).
Jeff (New York City)
Since it appears we (Asian Americans) have some degree of economic success, we should just boycott these whitewashed movies!! Hollywood hasn't come out with anything imaginative for about 30-years ... it's all rehashed comic books from my growing up, constantly "rebooted" or "reimagined." We shouldn't just boycott this stuff here in the U.S., but overseas as well. Nothing speaks volumes to corporate citizens quite as loudly as a quarter or more of lousy earnings!!
Robert (Canada)
With or without Asians, that is already happening. Not because of whitewashing or anything similar though. Just because people prefer more tailored options, use netflix more etc.
Global Citizen (Earth)
To echo other commenters, being Asian means absolutely nothing just like being European means nothing. A continent consists of vastly diverse people both physically as well as culturally. I'd love to see more diverse casts on TV and movie screens in general otherwise content will just continue to become more boring by the year.

However, Hollywood is still struggling to portray women (50% of the population) accurately and fairly. We are still stereotyped as hormone driven hysterical morons who can't get anything right and need to be saved by a man (preferably white). My guess is Asians will have to battle for some time until they can take their turn to portray themselves accurately on screen. Keep insisting and eventually we will all get there.
M (Danby)
Confirmation bias is a strong and powerful influencer on our individual reality.
Gaijin (desert southwest)
Odd. I watch all kinds of TV shows with strong female characters, in leads, many who are not European descent. And diversity of Ethnicity including Asaisn.But then I watch shoes like Blind Spot, Chicago PD, Night Shift...
Elise (Northern California)
On the other side of this coin is the appalling appearance a few years back at the Oscars wherein Mark Wahlberg was on stage insisting that he wasn't Jewish (even though his name ends in 'berg) and that, as a Roman Catholic, he cannot get work in Hollywood because of the Jews.

It smacked of anti-semitism, yet it was a scripted monologue and the producers obviously agreed. Yet does anyone notice that Wahlberg is always in some film somewhere, when he's not at church.

The problem with the industry is a complete lack of talent at the top. There is a continued production of absolutely crappy mindless films appealing to an audience demographic of 13 year olds. Most of the people I know and have worked with stopped going to the movies along time ago. They buy films at Dimple or Amazon or have Netflix and ignore the overpriced theatre experience with eight dollar popcorn.

I'd go to the movies again if they had people who represented not just what my country looks like but what I hope the future will look like, to wit, integrated and diverse.
Robert (Canada)
Movies are probably not worse, buy you are also not 13 anymore either. So probably your perspective has changed, rather than the quality.
Ghost In the Shell is a seminal work of Japanese anime. To have it's identity stripped away is too painful to accept.
Robert (Canada)
And it, like more anime, is also filled with characters who basically look white, and behave Japanese. And that's fine, that's what Japanese want to watch.
Meh (east coast)
I thought so, too. But those are Japanese characters. It is how The Japanese see themselves. Don't believe that? Go on YouTube where Japanese persons explain and show that those are a depiction of Japanese characters, not white ones. Once you see it, you realize, they do actually look Japanese!
Gaijin (desert southwest)
The characters are not all drawn as Japanese in appearance. It's fantasy. In ANIME they live in Japan, have Japanese names, are in synthetic bodies and only 2 characters are non synthetic. It's a live action movie in English so they are going to cast as they are drawn. People in Japan have nompriblem with it, only in America..
Julie S. (New York, NY)
John Cho makes a seriously hot 007.
doy1 (NYC)
Would certainly freshen the series. Although I think an actor of Asian ethnicity but who speaks British English would be supernova hot!!
Ana O (San Francisco)
I'm glad Asians actors are speaking up and hope it leads to more roles. The whitewashed casting is really insulting and makes it seem like Hollywood is just trolling and being deliberately offensive in casting all these Asian characters as white. Popular culture reflects our anxieties. It seems Iike regardless of your earning power or education, they'll find a way to marginalize you and put you in your place. I think Asians and Indians generally distance themselves from Blacks and Hispanics and feel that they are more insulated from racism. I'm glad they are realizing that this is beyond individuals or how "good" or "worthy" you are, and pushing back and speaking up.
Just an aside here--why did the parents of those three children permit them to be used in Chris Rock's Oscar monologue? Did anyone ask them if they felt they were prostituting out their little kids?

Is it just remotely possible that the parents considered Rock's monologue to be a savagely satiric in-your-face provocation that they perhaps appreciated? Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe they just wanted the money.

But good reporting--having already mentioned the use of those children--would include such information. Or would the facts make the parents look bad too?
Malika (Northern Hemisphere)
We need more complex and diverse portrayals of Asian-Americans. Not all are good at math, succeed in business, and shop all holidays at discount malls. And the ones that do need to be showcased and satirized.
Bob Johnson (MA)
"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"

Another case of statistics being used to mislead the reader.
Buzzy (CT)
Bullseye. Clearly, we need to spread, by Federal mandate, that 5.4% across all offered TV shows, movies, plays, etc. That would deal with this important statistical anomoly.
tiddle (nyc, ny)
A lot has been said about the stupid casting call of Emma Stone in her role in Aloha. Let's face it, she can be all white and sitting pretty, and with a hunk in Bradley Cooper by her side, but that movie bombed, BIG TIME. No skin color or pretty face can save a movie with terrible script and mediocre directing. The silver lining of it, is that if that disastrous movie has cast an Asian-American leading lady, it would have been just one more nail in the coffin for anyone who would want to make that kind of casting call again. And now, that rotten tomato of a bomb goes to...Emma Stone, as white as she can be. So, there goes.

As to Asian-American roles, surely there are as many as, say, African-American ones, like the ones we see in, say, Zoe Saldana in Guardian of the Galaxy. But I also recall the Bond Girl in Skyfall, or Maggie Q in Mission Impossible 3. And I have come to enjoy Lucy Liu's reimagined Watson in Elementary on small screen, even though I wasn't previously a Liu fan.

Perhaps the one defining theme of all the above movies and shows, is that of Asian-American cast in a western settings, which makes "Fresh off the Boat" much more unique since it focuses primarily on the dynamics of a Chinese family and their experience. The viewer numbers bear it out, that as long as it's interesting and fresh, it'll find a wider audience. The rise of the market power/size in China is going to force the hands of Hollywood and network execs to widen their narrow minds.
I would love to see more visible or successful Asian actors in Hollywood. Not just for the sake of an ethnic diverserity which strives for social equality but more importantly it offers courage to the descendant of Asian parents to point out that they can also be successful at what they love to do. Not every child can be a doctor, a lawyer or other more visible professional careers in life. Is not this what every parent want for their child, find a true passion and pursue what you love to do and be the best you can be.
I would have liked some mention of Sorkin's film adaptation (currently in the works) of Flash Boys. Lewis's book has an Asian-Canadian main character and other prominent Asians. Being that the book is about real people, it seems harder to justify not casting Asians for the lead roles. I know there has been some social media pressure, and I'm interested to see how that is affecting the film. It certainly seems to be a prime opportunity to showcase talented Asian actors. I'm white, and as a fan of the book, there's no way I'd see a white washed version of the movie. It would be too (needlessly, cynically) inaccurate.
Irfan Ibrahim (Boston)
Hollywood and cable mogul media companies know that diversity brings more money so let's stop tip toeing around and let these diverse group rise beyond supportive and stereotypical roles. I would like to see current America reflected on Television and Hollywood screen so I can tell my 7yrs old and 2 yrs old that they can take risk to become and actor or actresses.
Folks, this is all getting a bit tedious. I honestly can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read over the last couple of years with a similar title except for some other minority group substituted in.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that some of the instances of “whitewashing” outlined here aren’t perplexing, or troubling even, but at the end of the day what does it really matter? Hollywood is an echo chamber that has exactly nothing to do with real life. The individuals working in Hollywood, be they white, black, Asian, or Latino have next to nothing in common with the average viewer who works 40 hours a week (or more) and gets to spend a few hours on his/her couch enjoying some TV.

As the father of a bi-racial daughter, all I can say is that I will try to teach her to decipher between good art and bad. As a viewer, all I’m ultimately concerned about is good writing, acting, drama, and being swept up in a well constructed story. If the casting of a white actor seems out of place for the overall production, then shame on the producers for making a bad casting choice. That should be the only test. I don’t think we need to turn this into a referendum on racial injustice every time some misguided producer makes a boneheaded casting choice. All the rest, I’m afraid, is much ado about nothing involving highly paid actors. Get on with your lives, or disconnect your DVRs.
Sat (Chapel Hill)
Asian American? If you want an honest discussion about race, how about mentioning how Korean American actors are taking most of the roles of Japanese American characters.
Mike NYC (NYC)
That's going too far. It's like slighting Danes for taking Swedish roles.
John Smith (NY)
I can't understand why Hollywood continues this slight. Even the great Bruce Lee was passed over for the lead role in the TV series, Kung Fu that he even helped develop. When one looks at the Oscar winning movie the Good Earth one knows that Anna May Wong would have been perfect in the role since she was as great an actress as Luise Rainer.
Pilgrim (Mass.)
Lots of good points in this article.

But these actors risk jeopardizing their cause when they pull in films like The Martian because the 18th most significant role used a Caucasian instead of an Asian. The Martian had a diverse cast, with people of color and women in key roles. If every Hollywood film did the same, things would be much different. It's the wrong target for this campaign.
Mo (Minneapolis)
What kind of argument is this?
Daveed Diggs, an African-American, plays as Jefferson in Hamilton. Should we blame the director for giving the role of a White man to an African-American then? Nonsense.
bkgriot (NYC)
Except the casting director and director EXPLICITLY cast minorities in Hamilton in order to thematically link the work of America's publicly recognized founding fathers (who tended to be overwhelmingly white) to those people (women and minorities) whose efforts in creating OUR nation have systematically been overlooked.
MM (New York)
Logic has no place in a politically correct world.
Dochoch (Murphysboro, Illinois)
Yet another barrier for talented people to breach. Go for it!

If Alec Guiness, Bette Davis or Sidney Toler could play Chinese characters in the movies, why can't Daniel Dae Kim or BD Wong play Hamlet? Or Constance Wu or Sandra Oh play Blanche Dubois?
Mahalo (Hawaii)
Living in very diverse Hawaii is great - stereotypes a lot of Asians face from white people (this is not a criticism but a physical description) are pretty much nonexistent. They range from "you speak English really well" (duh! born speaking it and also had time to learn a foreign one to become fluent - Japanese ) "where are your parents from" (born in the USA) "you must be good in math" (I sucked at math) etc. Growing up in the 70s I wanted to see more people who looked like me in magazines, tv shows, etc but it it only now do we see the media more representative of the population. Pox on all the typical commentators who say suck it up, show business is hard, etc the fact is the majority of white people (so far) set the rules but this is changing whether they like it or not. Audiences are getting more diverse and some of us tune out from shows that are all white, no diversity (real life has diversity) and boring because this is not real life. As it is media is still black and white. Latinos are moving in but Asians are still unrepresented but this is changing as well - in fact TV shows like Barney Miller and Hawaii Five O (the original) were very diverse and representative back in the day compared to now. Politically correct is now more about white than diversity.
Maggie2 (Maine)
Another racist myth. that of the so-called "Yellow Peril" is alive and well, not only in Hollywood, but all across this country which, as we are witnessing at Trump rallies where racism's ugly head has surfaced and is encouraged by the candidate whose viciousness knows no bounds.
Bruce W. (LA)
Remember that Dragonball movie with all those white actors doing kung fu? Me neither.
avery (t)
I think people want to watch rich people. The Kardhashian are not white, and pleeeeeenty of people tune into their lives.

Ansari complains about white people problems, but most of the world aspires to having white people problems, such as "is it better to have a ski house in Vermont or in New Hampshire?"

I'm 46. In the 70's, there were lots of TV shows about poor black and latino people. Good times, Welcome Back, Kotter, Different Strokes.

Furthermore, many Asians are typecast as ninjas because, as far as I can tell, martial arts films are a big part of real Asian culture in Asia. Even in Asia, Asians are typecast as ninjas. Heck, what white guy would mind being typecast as Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt, or James Bond. Aren't spies and ninjas the same thing? Isn't Iron Man a white ninja?
Paul (Charleston)
Given that the Karsdashians are of Armenian descent, where the Caucasus mountains are, I am going to guess they identify as Caucasian; that is, white.
Thomas (Salem, OR)
Perhaps it's time for Sony Entertainment to step up to the plate to stop this whitewashing. Being a Japanese company, I think it would behoove them to start putting pressure on Hollywood.
Sam the Slam (USA)
As a second-generation Asian American, let me tell you something: we don't give a damn about whitewashing.

WE DON'T CARE. I don't care, my parents don't care, most of our community doesn't care, my friends don't care. As far as I know, other Asian-American communities don't care either.

Why? Because first, there isn't a whole lot of Asians in Hollywood to begin with. We truly are a minority in the most traditional definition. And take a gander at most Asian roles in the movies - they are either comedic relief, a dispensable token character, or a stereotypical caricature. We'd rather be left out than exposed to that nonsense. We're resigned whenever we see another Katana.

Instead, we keep to our own native country's films and TV. If I want to see a show with Asian actors represented PROPERLY, I switch on TV Japan. Or stream a Korean drama. Or watch the old kung fu movies. You get the idea.

So if the Marvel Cinematic Universe wants to shoehorn in Tilda Swinton for the role of an Asian monk, let them. If they want to cast the highly overrated ScarJo as Motoko, let them. (Personally, I think a live action version of Ghost in the Shell is doomed to fail no matter how they cut it anyway.) I ain't complaining. I will go and enjoy those movies as best as I can. As long as the actors/actresses are attractive, I'm totally down with it. The "Internet activists" can shove off; we don't want them fighting on our behalf.
Eo (NYC)
Interesting. As a black person, I am loathe to speak on the behalf of any black person other than myself (because I understand that I am but one person and I don't represent anyone else). I grew up primarily around white people, and it took years to undo my own internalized white supremacy. I really think this is something you should reflect on.

Hollywood is just the tip of the iceberg. Those of us in the sciences or finance see how Asian Americans are kept out of top positions (even with stellar qualifications). It's amazing. The silencing of Asian Americans is EVERYWHERE not just in film.
CK (Salt Lake City, UT-USA)
I think it's strange that you say "we don't want [Internet activists] fighting on our behalf," in protest of others speaking for you, when you clearly are daring to speak for others. I DO care, and a lot of my friends do too. I live in America, and want to see my story told and to be understood as something other than the "model minority." I can't achieve that by watching Korean soaps and Japanese anime and staying silent when Emma Stone plays Allison Ng. Perhaps you should consider that you are a part of a community larger than just your immediate Asian-American one.
Patty (California)
You may not want the Internet activists fighting on your behalf, but thousands of Asian and Asian-American actors want YOU fighting on their behalf. Without the support of other Asians and non-Asians) demanding that they be given fair consideration for good roles in Hollywood, their dreams of become successful actors will die a slow death.
N. Smith (New York City)
Whitewashing in Hollywood should come as no great surprise to anyone.
This is something that every non-white racial group has had the misfortune to experience, whether it's through the notable absence of talented actors used in portraying certain roles, or in demeaning stereotypes that haven't been updated for ages.
In this regard, Asians, Blacks, and Latinos have fared rather poorly.
Unfortunately, nothing will change until they become the ones who are financing, producing and directing the projects.
the invisible man in the sky (in the sky, where else ?)
making a movie is a multi-million dollar crap shoot

no one ever knows what will work beforehand

casting is just one of th many uncertainties

movie history is lousy w examples of th wrong person getting a part and ruining a movie, or th right person getting a part and making a movie a hit

its all guess work based on experience

if a casting director thought any of these people would benefit a movie they would get th part

hollywood is interested in making money, not political statements

so get off it and keep going to auditions rather than whining all day
jj (ny)
At the end of the day it's the golden rule; those with the gold makes the rules. All the people that want a more diverse cast need to band together and harness the $$$ and start producing and hire the creatives to do the casting.

In addition with the exponential growth of the China/Asia entertainment market it's only a matter of time until the center of gravity shifts to more diverse casting as well.
Jo Sheena (NYC)
I find it strange that Aziz Ansari complains about the visibility of Asian actors when his character on Master of None exclusively dated/lusted after White women. Why didn't he use his own show to highlight some beautiful Asian actresses in Hollywood? Instead he played into old tropes that only White women are desirable and that, to me, looked like a brown man who was obsessed with White acceptance.You mean to tell me there wasn't a single actress of color who was talented enough to play his love interest? I really enjoy him and the show and hope that next season he corrects his mistakes and gives a chance to other Asian actors. If he doesn't, he is perpetuating the problems he highlights in his comments. Be the change you want to see in the world Aziz!
Avina (NYC)
I agree. Similarly, Asian actresses in the US need to not just complain about a 'lack of Asians' in American TV/film/advertising, but also question why most of the time, they (the Asian actresses) are paired-up with Non-Asian males. Or do they not see this as a problem?
CityBumpkin (Earth)
I have not seen the show, so I can only comment in the abstract. Perhaps Aziz Ansair could have cast a broader range of actresses - including those of non-white, including Asian, descent, especially if his character has had multiple love interests. However, there may be a normalizing effect allowing his character to be in relationships with white women, the way white male characters have always done. After all, there is a long tradition in popular media by portraying Asian men as eunuch-like figures.
Shay (Canada)
I felt the same way about Mindy Kaling on the Mindy Project.
yodog (los angeles)
How is this 'whitewashing?' Who is deliberately concealing someone's mistakes or faults?
Brian (San Francisco Bay Area)
"Whites" play "people" everyone else plays a type in keeping with what "whites" are comfortable with seeing. And it's not just Hollywood. White person, name your daughter "Lakisha" and see how far she gets in life whenever she submits a resume on-line..

Our continued need to make "white" people feel comfortable by feeding back themselves or "colored" or "ethnic" versions of themselves is so deeply ingrained in this culture without a culture that even this very newspaper would have to do some very deep inward looking to see just how this is promulgated.

Remember, history is "white" history. All others--if they are lucky--get a month. Aziz Ansari's episode on "Master of None" about the casting call is a perfect presentation of this. "If you are white, you're alright, if you're brown, stick around; if you're black, get back."

During Hollywood's initial run of "terrorist" films and TV programs in the 1980s, Jewish actors often played the "Islamic" terrorists. The message here: "they all look alike, don't they?"
Simon (Tampa)
I cannot believe this article did not mention Steven Yeun who is one of the few leading Asian actors on tv and has a leading role as Glenn on the highest rated drama on tv.
PCO (New York, NY)
And amazingly enough, his on-screen wife is Caucasian...
Simon (Tampa)
In The Walking Dead comic, Glenn is Asian and his wife Maggie is white. They could have whitewashed Glenn and made him Asian, but they chose not to.
blueaster (seattle)
This is the new front for the next generation.

In 2014, the Census reported that 50.2% of the 20 million children under 5 are "minorities." America is changing and we can't cast these children as being the other.

Thanks to these actors for speaking up.
Jim (Phoenix)
This is the oddest expression of American exceptionalism. Asian actors are the most seen actors in the world, by far. But for some reason, only performing for American audiences, which have overwhelmingly European/Latino roots, matters. The Asian actors trying to make it in Hollywood should count their lucky stars that America values diversity and any great actor will get a part. No "Americans need apply" is the help wanted sign in Bollywood, China. and Japan where they make movies for the world's biggest audiences.
Al (Seattle)
This has to be the most bizarre comment ever. Asian actors WHO CAN'T WORK should count their lucky stars here?
Kolya (Nyc)
Therein lies the problem. You assumed them to be foreign. Many, if not most, of those actors are AMERICANS. Americans who happen to be of Asian descent. Some of them 2nd and 3 gen.
George Haig Brewster (New York City)
For the purposes of this article, "Asian" seems to refer to people of Chinese, Indian or Korean ancestry, which people from the other 50 countries in Asia - such as Russia, Turkey, Israel and Iran - may find offensive in itself.
But why shouldn't an actor of one race play a character of another race? Why shouldn't a gay man play a heterosexual man? I didn't see 'Aloha', but if Emma Stone was good in the role, why not? Is it wrong for all those British and Australian actors to play Americans on TV shows? The best actor for the role is surely the best actor for the role, regardless of race.
the invisible man in the sky (in the sky, where else ?)
people pretending to be other people is th essence of acting
Lilo (Michigan)
If the best actor/actress is always white then surely there is a problem, no?
These actors are complaining that their race limits their job opportunities in a way that doesn't occur for white actors/actresses. Why dismiss/deflect their concerns by quibbling over who is Asian or making non sequitur defenses of meritocracy?
Joyce Kim (Seattle)
Because race is a lot more visible than sexual preference. A [white] British actor playing a [white] American actor is not nearly the same as a white American playing an Asian American role, for obvious reasons. The entire point of this movement is that there are many, many highly talented Asian American actors that could have been casted for these Asian character roles, yet white actors were casted instead, for roles that they don't accurately represent (do you really buy Emma Stone being a quarter Chinese?).

This is a reflection of racism against Asians/people of color in America and Hollywood. Your argument "The best actor for the role is surely the best actor for the role, regardless of race" implies that these white actors just happened to be superior actors than all the Asian actors out there - that's just false. And "But why shouldn't an actor of one race play a character of another race? Why shouldn't a gay man play a heterosexual man?" is equivalent to the "All Lives Matter" argument, which is denial of the blatant racism and oppression of the voices needing to be heard.
Not too far in the future, whites will be a minority in this nation and elsewhere. Then there may be more 'color' or 'cultural' acceptance in Hollywood films and other media outlets.
One thing I'd like to point out is that it is VERY hard to break into film/TV.
No one is immune to this factoid. Many races fail and move on to something else. There are NO guarantees in Hollywood of getting anywhere, whether you are white, black, Asian or whatever you may be.
That is the harsh reality of this extremely tough business. Whoever is cast in 'minority' roles today should count their blessings for a break into this highly competitive industry. It is not easy for anyone.
J (New York, NY)
Great article. What's particularly stupefying about the whitewash trend is that there is no real indication that casting an Asian American actor would detrimentally affect ratings/ticket sales. Network/Studio execs are so uninspired that they simply presume them to be. They could make just as much money casting the talented actors mentioned in this piece, and in the case of Cameron Crowe's flop Aloha, maybe even more.
Mil Arcega (Washington DC)
The bias extends well beyond Hollywood. You should see how difficult it is (particularly for Asian male anchors) to break into local or network news.
Elise (Northern California)
Bravo. Add the corporate sponsors/spokesperson. Allstate actually has a man of color (I forget the actor's name). But Flo (Progressive) and the AT&T woman are just a few of the very white corporate "representatives."

Apparently Corporate America thinks minorities have no purchasing power. They are completely out of touch with the America of today. But that is not surprising since most American corporations are owned and controlled by old, rich, white men (either personally or via the board of directors).
CalifBroke (California)
Who needs diversity when you're making money? If movies and TV shows are financially successful without Asian performers, then why bother hiring them? If you are offended with 'whitewashing', then don't watch the show or pay to see the movie. Hollywood responds when its wallet is attacked.
Ms.kiju (PA)
About time. The talent and market is there if you look at Bollywood and the Korean Wave. No one wants to be marginalized forever.
John Epping (Seattle)
While I agree with this article, I do think it missed an opportunity to highlight two of the most prominent Asian American talents to have notable influence on the American screen.

Justin Lin, who is at near mogul status now, went unmentioned and uninterviewed even though he's the director and producer of major films like the Fast and Furious series and now the Star Trek franchise. Wouldn't it have been nice to get his perspective as the director of the ground-breaking indie hit Better Luck Tomorrow that basically made it ok to make a film full of Asian American actors?

And Randall Park on Veep plays a war hero and governor, is on Fresh off the Boat, and is one of the most versatile Asian American comedic actors out there.
MM (New York)
That wouldn't fit the narrative.
Marie Belongia (Omaha)
The American film and television industry mostly produces garbage. In the white people driven aim of pleasing other white people in America, this is what we get. I've resorted to fulfilling my entertainment desires on Dramafever dot com and I gather I'm not alone. It seems I'm in good company with lots of other Americans and people of other nations who've discovered the Asian film industry. There are tons of talented actors outside of America (and Britain, for all you Cumberbatch lovers).

Now, if we in America could somehow learn to love the diversity of actors we have in our own country, that would be amazing. Maybe we could start producing entertainment that rises above drivel...
Bay Area HipHop (San Francisco, CA)
Has Chris Rock even acknowledged, let alone apologized, for his blatant racism at the Oscars, which ironically occurred during a monologue ostensibly about racism? Or is it only racism when it's directed against blacks?
LeeDowell (Compton, CA)
Chris Rock is racist for focusing him monologue on black folk...okay. I didn't see Rock's monologue as exclusive. Focusing one people does not negate another. It never has and never will.

When people protest racism, they protest it for all, whether you understand that or not.
Lou Good (Page, AZ)
It's one of the ways Hollywood perpetuates their peculiar brand of racism, play one group off against the other. It's always worked and it's working now. Black actors don't care about Asians, Asians don't care about Hispanics and none of them care at all about American Indians.

Nothing will change until they expand their goals to include all underserved groups and work together. Don't see that happening anytime soon, if ever.

And white Hollywood actor's hypocrisy on this issue is breathtaking. They're all for long as it doesn't cost them as much as one thin dime.
Eo (NYC)
Do NOT try to divide us minorities. What Chris Rock did was wrong and he should apologize, but he has no power. He is not the one replacing all the Asian faces with white ones. To make the horrendous statement that blacks are overly aggrieved at the expense of other minorities is racist. Black Americans should stand up for their rights against white supremacy, as should Asian American, [email protected] Americans and Native Americans and we should be doing so collectively.
Joe (Chicago)
This is yet another whine from the current "culture of outrage" that we all seem to accept now. There's only one problem here: show business is not a democracy.
The choices they make are all based on who or what they THINK will make them money. So, of course they will cast big star OSCAR nominee Emma Stone in a role that YOU might think should go to someone else.
A sure way NOT to get people cast in roles is to insist they get cast "culturally correctly." Should James Caan NOT have played Sonny in "The Godfather" because he wasn't Italian? Should Morgan Freeman NOT have played Red in "The Shawshank Redemption" instead of a ruddy-faced Irishman?
Asian actors--or any group you name--have to keep on doing what EVERY actor in Hollywood is doing. That is, fight for roles.
But insisting they get cast or claiming some form of entitlement is a sure way to invite backlash. Fight for jobs, and be successful in getting them. Become known as a good--or popular--actor and people will hire you just for that, not because you are Asian or black or anything else.
MM (New York)
Excellent comment. Agreed.
This is not entitlement whining as you call it. This is the fight, and it has been going on for a long time.
Your assertion that all they have to do is be good and they will be hire. Pray tell, how long must they wait to get noticed? What do you think they are doing now? They are fighting as you suggest and you criticize them as whiners.
Without opportunities how will Asian actors prove their box office appeal?
The ugly truth is that Hollywood will do as much as they can get away with.
They will not be answerable unless they are made to.
bkgriot (NYC)
How can you read this article and not think that they're already fighting for roles (as you suggest)? Casting 'big stars' Emma Stone and Bradley Cooper didn't save Aloha from being a box office bomb. And yet they will continue to get a crack at major picture leads despite its failure. Ryan Reynolds starred in a string of failures but the media trotted out the comeback kid narrative for Deadpool. Yet the line keeps getting trotted out that 'people won't pay to see minorities' if any picture with minority leads fails and those actors never get another shot at a lead.
Geez seriously.

Every country with a dominant culture does this. It's like, life.

I watch a lot of Asian films and TV shows, including Korean, Chinese and Indian ones. Have you ever seen how white people are portrayed in those? And, in Indian films especially, white women?

But regarding the American film industry--inappropriate casting is hardly limited to ethnic choices. In every era, the hot star of the moment is cast in everything, no matter how ridiculous that might end up being. Children are played by teenagers and teenagers are played by 30-year olds. The over-aged male hero is paired with a love interest less than half his age.

Ludicrous casting is a staple of Hollywood. And Hollywood isn't a civil rights stronghold. It's a place where people try to make money.

Oh--by the way--I saw a production of "The Tempest" years ago, with BD Wong playing Ariel. He undoubtedly beat out a number of white actors for that role, which Shakespeare undoubtedly did not envision for an Asian performer. Heck--in the Bard's time, all the roles--male, female, Venetian, Scottish--were played by Englishmen.

Money is power. If Asian-Americans want to see more Asian-Americans playing Asians, they can decline to support what Hollywood does, and if that affects box-office draw, Hollywood will notice. That's the way the world works.
Linus Yamane (Claremont, CA)
In the Amazing Spiderman 2, Gwen Stacy asks Peter Parker to meet her at a dim sum restaurant. She says her family has reservations for 8pm! Now every Asian American knows that you don’t make reservations for dim sum, and you can't get dim sum after 3pm. Dim sum is for lunch only. If people actually had some Asian Americans on their staff, they wouldn’t write such stupid dialog.
Scott (NY)
I must have been sleepwalking for 9 years in Hong Kong all the time I ate dim sum in the p.m. It is a regular selection on many multi-course menus available until closing - well pas dinner. And has gone high-end (see Mott 32, Lung King Heen, Man Wah, Man Mo, etc..) Yes, at a dim sum only place or traditional tea house, it is traditionally Sunday until 3. But while you can walk into dim sum at City Hall or the place in the United Center and hope to get seated, they also take reservations. Times change.
Expat (London)
It's not entirely true that dim sum is only for lunch. Here in London's Chinatown, there are dim sum houses that serve it the whole day. It is just having business smarts -- giving what your customers want.
Ruth (Seattle)
Apparently, in NYC, you can experience either. I guess they broke traditional rules.

We went to dinner around 7pm in NYC's Chinatown district the same day we arrived. As we were walking around, we checked a few menus outside of restaurants. Most had options for dishes that I've normally only ever seen served at lunchtime Dim Sum in Seattle area. The restaurant we finally settled on, asked if we had made reservations. Of course we hadn't, but it wasn't a problem since a few of the tables were vacating within 10 minutes. I ended up choosing a few of the traditional Dim Sum offerings off of the 'appetizer' section instead of a regular entrée. Some of the best I've ever had.
There were only a few other European-Americans in the establishment and none were servers or chefs.
Kal (DC)
Don't be color blind, be color aware!
Frank Underwood (Washington, DC)
I would also add that casting can and should look beyond American borders.
Eben Spinoza (SF)
Of the photos of actors illustrating the article, why is only 1 of the 4 female?
Steve (Earth)
And I believe none are left-handed...
FWS (Maryland)
What is wrong with that?
RM (Brooklyn)
I salute and thank all of these actors for speaking up and taking a stand and I wholeheartedly support them. I want my children to grow up in a world where they can be proud of their Asian heritage and aspire to be anything they want.

Actually, let me rephrase that.

"In a world where white casting directors perpetuate an evil plot to retain world dominance, a motley crew of Asian American thespians has risen up to level the playing field and save the world of cinema and television by injecting it with a powerful dose of reality."
The only way we can enforce change is to come together as a community, not just Chinese, Indian, Korean, etc but together as Asian Americans and protest collectively where they will hear us - our dollars. We as Asian American have huge purchasing power. According to Nielsen, Asian American purchasing is expected to reach 1 trillion by 2018; this is just in the US! Imagine we from all the Asian countries come together and boycott purchasing from advertisers that support #whitewashing. Only way they will hear you is if they feel it in the pocket. We as Asians should not be paying to watch films that is not culturally diverse. #whitewashout
Joe (California)
To me, the most important aspect of acting is the ability to try on someone else's shoes and live in them for a while - to be able to explore someone or something else that I am not. On the one hand, it is very important for all of our industries to be diverse and inclusive and for opportunities to be shared widely, and Asian-American actors, among others, should be present in film in greater numbers. On the other hand, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a European-American playing an Asian part, or an African-American playing a Shakespearean part, or anyone playing whatever role they please.
It is fundamentally wrong for an European-American to be playing an Asian when Asian actors are actually available and so under-employed. Why not used a talented Asian to play him/herself when they are are available?
This was more excusable in old Hollywood, but laughable today.
Joe (California)
Hi CL! To clarify, in my view it is fundamentally wrong to *hire* an unrepresentative number of Asian people for Asian roles, but I consider it counter to what acting is all about, and also racist, to assert that only Asian actors should play Asian roles. I say attack Hollywood casting, but leave the actors alone. All they're doing is trying out for parts, and sometimes they get them.
Scott (NY)
I'd be careful here because that line of reasoning can also be applied when - to give just one example - a major TV network casts a black actress to play Cinderella. There are a LOT of out of work white actresses, and that role is obviously a European. Was it fundamentally wrong?
MM (New York)
The NY Times reached its quota for race related articles for the week. Exhausting.

This is an old issue and it is all about money.

I guarantee the moment there are more Asian American actors in film there will be something else the community will complain about. Every community complains. See how much of the Italian American community dislikes the same stereotpes, ie The Sopranos. Every group faces it.

P.S. The best Asian American performance ever was the character of Margaret Yang in Rushmore.
APS (Olympia WA)
Also, don't forget the vanishing sherpas in documentaries on western climbers in the Himalayas.
MM (New York)
By the way, these problems have always been this way for every group.

You need to make your own way in this world and prove to the establishment your value.

Italian Americans faced such problems and are still stereotyped regularly to this day, but people like Martin Scorcese and other Italian American directors made films for people like themselves. No one is going to open doors for you in the U.S., you have to do it on your own.
We are trying to open the doors, get it? Electronic media just widened the forum.
MM (New York)
Opening your own doors means making your own films and pitching your own TV series.
Damen Brazen (Los Angeles, CA)
Asian Americans did it to themselves. They insisted on getting good educations, keeping their heads down and succeeding at the American dream, which they have done spectacularly well.

The Ivy-league, lily-white bias of your reporters is showing, for if you grew up in predominately Asian neighborhoods you would know that they think very poorly about dramatic arts, the arts in general (unless it's classical music), or god forbid their children getting a degree in any liberal art. Corporal punishment for even suggesting an interest in such things is not uncommon, of because I heard a hell of a lot about it from my Asian friends. Now let's sit back and watch as the NYTimes and its readers spin in circles chasing their own racism tails, standing up for people who don't need to be stood up for and who probably resent them for it.
Obviously not true of the next generation. Many of them have gone into the arts and are making their voices heard.
And please, don't presume to speak for me. I have BFA from NYU, class of 76 and no one got punished for it.
Ewow (Houston, TX)
Come on. You know that he's generalizing. And it's a true generalization. Many Asians don't pursue the arts.
Dave (Durham)
Way to play into Asian stereotypes. And thanks for speaking on the behalf of your Asian brothers and sisters. I wonder how the lack of roles and lack of Asian visibility influences people's decisions to choose different career paths. If Asians were more visible, perhaps more would direct their lives towards the arts.
John Clark (Hollywood, California)
The days of audiences meekly accepting the existence of the fourth wall, and the magic of the suspension of disbelief in what they are seeing, is over. These days, the public has been welcomed into the mysteries of the actors' work and world, also directors and producers (unfortunately). Therefore, as it's now all a matter of belief in the truth of what you see, the correct ethnicity of characters being played should be respected. Blacks should play blacks, and Asians should play asians and so on. Should Brits play Yanks? Ah, that's a blurred line.
Unfortunately Brits play Yanks all the time, even in black roles.
Frederick (Philadelphia)
Hollywood believes we are all comfortable watching white actors play any part without objection from the audience. They are right, most people who watch movies never think twice about these stereotypes. Happily it seems all minorities and not just blacks are starting to speak up. As a black male I have been sick and tired of this notion that Asians are too busy succeeding to speak a little truth to power. Whether we like it or not movies are a powerful tool that can define a people and their place in society not only for Americans but globally. So I say welcome, it is long overdue. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Eo (NYC)
Thank you. As a black woman I am excited whenever I see a non-white face anywhere. More power to Asian Americans taking their rightful place on the screen.
Maxwell Carr (Toronto)
There is one question I have, do you really expect anything different? How many white actors headline Chinese cinema? How many white actors headline Bollywood movies? I'm personally sick and tired of this hunt to find how whites are marginalizing other ethnicities. This is a white North America, end of story. There has been some immigration, and there are diasporas, however the overwhelming majority of people are white. Why don't we market Kim Chi on a super bowl commercial? Maybe its because these companies have a certain demographic they need to appeal to in order to make strong marketing decisions. Not everything is a brainwashing technique to ruin the identity of nonwhite Americans, but more and more there seem to be techniques to ruin the image of white people in America.
Luigi K (NYC)
There is a twofold demographic difference. First is that there are far more non whites per capita in the US then there are non Han Chinese in China, non Indian in India. Second is that there are far more international talent coming to Hollywood than to China or India. Its simple representation of both the talent pool and the audience.

Also, what makes you think that this is not a major problem in those areas as well? You are right to point out a lack of Uighur or Mongolian or Tibetan actors in Chinese movies despite being major "minorities" there. And India is notorious for using mostly actors from certain castes in Bollywood movies.
But mainstream Hollywood movies have been watched all over the world for decades, and are accepted. They reverse is not true.
So when people from Asia come to live here they are mostly limited to watching American produced TV and movies, whereas back home they had a choice of watching either their own or watching Hollywood.
It is time to stop believing that everyone is satisfied with just watching white people all of the time, even the good ones.
dlobster (California)
Why would white actors headline Chinese or Bollywood films? Is there a sizable population of white people in China or India? I'm sure they have their own racial and ethnic minority groups that deserve better representation in their media, but I don't know of any significant reason why they should be concerned about white actors?

And no, this is not "white" North America. If you're talking about the continent of North America, then I have to remind you that Mexico and Central America are part of North America. Although White Americans are the majority in the U.S., they are not the majority in many cities where movies are set - like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York. For example, San Francisco is around 33% Asian, and it's frankly weird to see movies set in San Francisco that do not have a Asian characters.
Trilby (NYC)
It's a tough business to break into no matter who you are-- unless you were born into it. I'm weary of actors who are working and getting paid complaining about not working enough and not getting paid enough. We all have our crosses to bear.
avery (t)
"we all have our cross to bear" is a very Eurocentric/Christocentric phrase.
Ralphie (Seattle)
avery: how about "We all have our cross to shlep." Too Jewish?
Apowell232 (Great Lakes)
First, what is an Asian-American? Too often the term is used to draft people who are only part-Asian. The infamous "Aloha" role, for example, specifically described the character in question as "looking white." Therefore, any actress who "looks white" (part-Asian or not) was entitled to audition for that role. After all, we don't demand Jewish ancestry from actors applying for "Fiddler on the Roof" roles, do we? Also, actors of mixed white/Asian ancestry are NOT in the same boat as people who look fully Asian. Actors like Olivia Munn, Dean Cain, Keanu Reeves, etc. look far more Caucasian than Asian and have no problem getting "white" or other ambiguous roles.
You just answered your own question, they look "white enough", are also the exception to the rule.
Gaijin (desert southwest)
Actually Keanu looks like the awesome mix of Hawaii (Islander, Japanese, Chinese, Portugese, etc.) But unless you've lived there you might not be aware.
Nancy (Great Neck)
There are grand Asian actors, I seek them out and I want them more readily visible. I have been waiting and waiting.
the invisible man in the sky (in the sky, where else ?)
i seek out good movies

i dont care who is in them
n'wester (Seattle, WA)
I'm confused by this. Isn't ultimately up to audiences as to what shows and movies succeed, and by extension which actors play which roles? Since we need to have equal representation in casting, let's ensure that physically unattractive white people with zero charisma or presence get their fair share of roles as well.
The point is Asian Americans aren't getting the roles in the first place. How are audiences supposed to support movies that don't exist? And yes, actors of all physical appearances should also qualify for roles in Hollywood. (Unfortunately plenty of Hollywood actors lack talent already.)
Kaleberg (port angeles, wa)
Just look at the recent crop of TV pilots on CBS. There are plenty of physically unattractive white people with zero charisma or presence getting roles, and they keep on getting them no matter how much the audience rejects them.
torontonian (toronto, canada)
Hi, I read the issue here, as nothing to do with the audience. It is to do with Hollywood producers, who cast non Asian actors, to play Asian roles. Peter Sellers in 'The Party' is a perfect example of caricaturing. Maybe an Indian actor can play the role more authentically, but would not have had the brand name attraction of Mr Sellers. Unless, Asian actors are given a chance, how can they develop a brand identity and name. They are going through the same struggle that the Afro Americans did... started with Sidney Poitier and we have moved ahead. Still not ahead enough. Non whites are about a quarter of the U.S. population, but look around to see how many movies have a non white lead. That says it all. I think so.
NYT, as an Asian American this article was a surprise to me for a few reasons. To begin with - this is not a new issue AT ALL and to make it seem as though it is, is certainly disappointing. This is a very real problem and there is a tremendous amount of academic literature devoted to the topic. There is even a Wikipedia article about this issue (! Beyond that, I am completely shocked at the use of quotations both in your HP headline and throughout this article to describe whitewashing (or as you say "whitewashing") in the entertainment industry. Your reporter's approved use of quotations to describe this problem comes across as condescending and reads as a dismissal of the situation. Asian Americans are not suddenly a victim of a "whitewashing" phenomenon - their characters in movies and television have just been undoubtedly whitewashed for decades.
It may be a very real problem, but I'm not sure you help by being oversensitive to perceived slights. The term "whitewashing" literally means applying a coat of white paint, as to a fence, and hence the quotes when applied to substituting white actors for actors of color. Your inference that the quotes are condescending is unjustified. The article does not describe the problem as being new, only the application of this particular term to describe the problem.
It is not a new issue, but it is finally being discussed on a wider level than ever, rather than in specific circles. So, yes, this is an important article.
Thank you, Chris Rock, for showing that not only white Hollywood has a thing or two to learn about racism.
C Wolfe (Bloomington IN)
I came to this article in part because I'm a (white middle-aged female Midwesterner) fan of Daniel Dae Kim and BD Wong, and I'm baffled by decisions to cast screen roles created as Asian in the source material with people of European ancestry. They shouldn't imagine they're doing it on my account.

But I don't think the use of quotation marks around "whitewashing" is meant to be condescending or to deny that this happens. I think it's simply an orthographic device to acknowledge that this is a lesser-known and newer use of the word than the more common use of "whitewashing" to mean "the concealment of unpleasant facts", which in turn is a metaphoric use of the original sense "to paint white." Maybe save the indignation for the big picture?—actors and audiences who are harmed by prejudiced casting.
Hans Christian Brando (Los Angeles)
What I wonder is whether the common practice of Latino actors playing Asian characters is any preferable. A recent example of this was Joel de la Fuente as Inspector Kido in "Man In the High Castle." And who could forget Rita Moreno as a Burmese slave girl in "The King And I"?

It's high time Asian actors started speaking up for themselves. As far as "diversity" casting goes, I still look forward to an Asian Celie in "The Color Purple." And how about B.D. Wong as Kunta Kinte in the upcoming rebooted "Roots"?
Barrett (Miami)
For the record, Joel de la Fuente is Asian - Filipino American (though due to racism within the Asian American community, many Chinese and Koreans question the Asian-ness of all Filipinos in general due to Spanish acculturation - but I digress).
Milton Massery (Los Angeles, CA)
Joel de la Fuente is actually a Filipino-American
Ras (USA)
Joel de la Fuente is Filipino..Please locate the Philippines on a map.
Bronx Girl (Austin)
Hello-white woman here. There are scenes in "Double Happiness" where Sandra Oh's character imagines herself as Blanche DuBois, in the privacy of her own room, and where she auditions as a waitress and has to make herself more Asian by speaking Chinglish. I never forgot these. Quiet, true, knife-edged scenes.
Kevin Cristi (Thailand)
This is a direct result of decades of brainwashing. People in other countries have been conditioned to want to see white actors. It's a novelty that Hollywood has been cashing in on for long time now. Why change the formula when profits are guaranteed? And if you think about it, television is much less about the global market with its profits almost completely based on the domestic market. People in the US are choosing to watch shows predominantly featuring white actors because there is so little choice. It's like if TV shows were food and the studios were prison guards. The choice is either television featuring white folk ... or nothing.
jason (new york)
The second biggest BO country is China, and it will be #1 next year. A huge portion of the top 20 or even top 5 movies each year in China have mostly or all Asian casts. So fail.
KrishM (OK)
Watch the "Spelling Bee" episode of Grace and Frankie and then watch a real Spelling Bee competition over the last 10/15 years.
Mark (Tucson)
Let's not forget Reggie Lee who plays Detective Wu on Grimm--and has for five years, with lots of humor and panache. The casting of Lucy Liu in Elementary was a stroke of genius: she's the best thing about the show and her being there is natural. It illustrates how Asian actors can simply be placed into a setting and accepted without plot contortions and political posturing.

We were supposed to get beyond the insidious "Yellow Peril" mentality decades ago. When is Hollywood going to cacthg up?
Mark (Tucson)
"catch" up. Sorry.
JS (New York, NY)
Speaking of Lucy Liu - can anyone recall a role where her romantic interest was Asian (and not a lesbian role)?
Joanna (New York)
As a mom of two mixed Asian kids (Chinese-Indian), I can see the effects of Hollywood bias. Both my kids read the Martian very enthusiastically and I was excited to take my kids to see the movie. Unfortunately, I was more than a little disappointed that an obviously Korean Mindy Park in the book was looking as white and blond as she did. Moreover, Venkat Kapoor in the book morphed into Vincent Kapoor and was played at not Indian Chiwetel Ejiofor. My boys wondered why Venkat turned into Vincent. I had to attempt to explain why, but I couldn't find a good reason.

Bruce Ng played the only Asian in the movie. Perhaps the powers that be thought that three - gasp! - Asians in a single blockbuster movie would have been too much for audience to handle??
Engineer (Buffalo, NY)
I was also disappointed at the cast selected for "The Martian". In the real world of tech (NASA included), Asians are everywhere, especially Indians and Chinese, back when I was a graduate there was a running joke that Integrated Circuit (IC) design should be called "Indian-Chinese" design! They are colleagues, managers and even CEOs and it is really disappointing that this reality is not projected in the movies. I hope in the future a Venkat Kapoor (an odd name in the book itself because "Venkat" is a South Indian first name and "Kapoor" is a North Indian Punjabi last name) does not get whitewashed into a "Vincent" Kapoor!
Aruni (Philadelphia PA)
I was surprised by Kapoor as well.
But, as Aziz Ansari said quite effectively, sometimes Hollywood thinks "there can only be one."
Pilgrim (Mass.)
The Martian had a diverse cast, with people of color and women in key roles. If every Hollywood film did the same, things would be much different. It's the wrong target for this campaign.
APS (Olympia WA)
Good for them!
whatever (nh)
Actually, it's not "All white people" as Mr. Ansari says at the end of the article. There are a lot of white people, and for all the caterwauling (which, if you'll recall, was over their not winning any awards they thought they were entitled to), a fair number of black people, in US movies.

There are barely any Latinos (except when they need to portray a drug dealer, gang member, or illegal immigrant), and almost no Asians (East, South, North, or West).
Eo (NYC)
Spare us. Just spare us. Dark black women can hardly get cast other than as mammies, maids, and slaves. Did it ever cross your mind that they may want to play a different role? It is too much to hear a person completely clueless to the horrors of white supremacy, white terrorism, whitewashing speak on who deserves what.
Arctic Chills (Norway)
True, but what kind of roles do black actors get? When is the last time you saw a black woman in a lead role? Lots of roles for black people compared to other ethnicities, but they are still sidekicks , comic relief and stereotypes! There is representation and good representation.
I get a little mad though when people go 'white female lead roles are nothing special anymore', of course in this case it's absolutely mad that Tilda Swinton was cast in a role meant for an Asian actor but in any other case, I would have been stoked for this! I want more female roles that are not love interest/token action girl. (Ofc not just talking about white women here. But imagine a mission impossible style action movie unapologetically casting a woman lead? No matter the ethnicity, that would be sth to celebrate!)
There's still so much to achieve!
Christine (DC)
Why is is caterwauling? Your word choice is very dismissive of a very valid concern for actors of color. Or is your issue really a bias against Black people? I am glad Black Americans protest. It makes people like you uncomfortable and refuse to allow you the luxury of looking the other way and dismissing very valid claims regarding racism and discrimination. Now more and more of our counterparts of color, who have always been targets, as well, are pushing for more visibility. Hopefully, you will see it isn't just "Black people" complaining, but an affirmation of what "Black people" have been saying all along- there is something deeper, more intentional and strategic going on regarding oppression and discrimination.
See also