Twitter fights back against racist casting directors with #ExpressiveAsian

For Paste Magazine, Kenneth Lowe wrote a piece on whitewashing and lack of Asian visibility in Hollywood, “Bias does not come out with the whitewash.” The piece featured this anecdote from Nancy Wang Yuen, author of Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism.

Nancy Wang Yuen points out in Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism, that actors of color generally have fewer acting opportunities, all as a result of the homogeneity of the directors’ chairs and writers’ rooms of Hollywood. Her study found that 77 percent of casting calls specify a white actor. Her book is filled with other firsthand accounts from anonymous Hollywood sources that seem to reinforce the sad truth that a mostly white industry is going to advance the interest of mostly white actors. In one interview, a Latina actor told Yuen that a casting director friend asked for her opinion on a Latino casting decision, since the director only knew “maids and gardeners” who were Latino.

“I work with a lot of different people, and Asians are a challenge to cast because most casting directors feel as though they’re not very expressive,” one other casting director told Yuen. “They’re very shut down in their emotions … If it’s a look thing for business where they come in they’re at a computer or if they’re like a scientist or something like that, they’ll do that; but if it’s something were they really have to act and get some kind of performance out of, it’s a challenge.”

The racist idea that Asian actors aren’t expressive is, first of all, confounding. But most importantly, it’s angering. Folks created the hashtag #ExpressiveAsian to showcase just how talented and, yes, expressive, Asian actors of today and of the past are and were.

Here are some of my favorites, with a slight bias towards Wang Yuen’s tweets:

Let’s hope this article and this hashtag movement will continue to change the minds of casting professionals and directors, since everyone deserves to see themselves represented on screen.

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  • John

    They want our money, but not necessarily us. The American film industry will never change their views on Asians. One way to fix this is competition from the Asian film industry. The Korean wave is a prime example. While not as powerful as Hollywood, the K-Wave is the latest Asian entertainment trend popular all over Asia and the rest of the world. If Asians can unite, we can rival the influence of America and Europe.