To Be Asian or To Just Happen to Be Asian?

So I know I said I would explain my position on being Asian and I guess this time is as good as any.  Today I saw a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while and when I told him what I wanted to do, he said, “What happens if you fail? There’s not that many Asian roles out there.” Now this kind of comment really bothers me and I’ll tell you why. For one thing, like I said before, I won’t fail unless I quit.  So if you were to pose that question to me, you’re assuming that quitting is a possibility for me. And it’s not.  I’m in Los Angeles, no excuses.

Now the whole Asian comment, I actually hear that a lot. The thing is, I’m not looking for roles to “be Asian”.  I’m not looking for roles that call out for an ethnic look or has an Asian accent.  I don’t know martial arts, and I’m far from being the graceful grasshopper or whatever it is that society has perceived to be “Asian”.  I just want a quirky role where if i were to play her, she just so happens to be Asian (because I’m Asian).  I guess what I’m trying to say is that I rather get a role based on my talent, based on the certain choices I make for that particular character, rather than for just being Asian.

That being said, I feel that the roles people would only believe me to be are the Asian stereotypes that exist in movies.  Before it used to be the shy fobby wallflower, or the exotic seductress, or even the martial artist, but now it’s the crazy ass Asian bitch.  In the movie Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, the Asian character Knives Chau, was bat crazy.  It bothered me that in order for her to win back Scott Pilgrim’s love, she felt the need to become the white girl, Ramona.  She changed her hair color, her clothes, to not only emulate the white girl, but to become her. Why? to be cool, to be loved, you have to be white?

Why can’t we find strong women characters in film that just so happens to be portrayed by Asian American women?  I’ve seen a lot of casting notes where the lead role asks for Caucasians, while the background is filled with “ethnic people”. Maybe it’s not time yet, maybe there aren’t that many good actresses that so happen to be Asian, I dunno.  But i hope for a change.  And perhaps be a part of that change one day too.

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