Asians Make Their Mark in Hollywood


Mica Chesshir, E.I.C.

   Hollywood. It’s the place of glitz and glam, fame and glory, and the place to reach stardom. In the last few years, Hollywood has put a spotlight and a precedence on representing minorities in its movies. The majority of the movies that make the long, hard journey to the Academy Awards acknowledge some controversial themes such as the LGBTQ community, feminism, and the rise in strong black roles. In the last year, the entertainment business is bringing another minority group into the light. In past decades, they have often played the stereotypical roles of ninjas, kung-fu fighters, samurai warriors, or the “nerdy” sidekick, but the film industry has made a major turn around. I interviewed two Arkansas High students with Asian heritage and received their perspective on Asian portrayal in the media.

   Recently, Asian representation has increased across multiple genres in the film industry. This year the first movie with an all Asian cast since 1993, according to Director Jon M. Chu’s interview on Larry King Now, hit the box office. Crazy Rich Asians tells the story of a Chinese-American woman who goes back with her boyfriend to his home in Singapore. The movie was widely successful, receiving a 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Netflix is stepping up to the plate as well with their recent movie, The Guys I’ve Loved Before. In movie history, Asians rarely get to be the heroine with the fairytale ending, so having Lana Condor, an Asian-American, play the lead was refreshing. Asian actors are not only becoming centerstage in rom coms. John Cho, a Korean-American actor, is playing the lead in the upcoming thriller, Searching. It’s about a father who takes his daughter’s kidnapping into his own hands and searches for her himself. Yes, Liam Neeson and the “I will find you” phrase is iconic, but Searching brings along a new perspective to our big screens. For once, there will be an action-packed movie where the Asian doesn’t have to play the stealthy ninja or genius computer hacker.

   Senior Bryan Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam, says he is “excited with Asian culture in the mainstream.” He said that he is tired of the “nerdy” Asian stereotype. After asking Nguyen on what he would like to see in the future for Asians, he said that he would really like to see an Asian president. “A president with Asian heritage would encourage and help Asians adapt to American culture.” This is something that touches very close to home for Nguyen because when he moved to the United States, he said that he struggled to fit in and find his place. Senior Madison Stanley, who also has Vietnamese heritage, said, “I think it’s is really invigorating to see people who I share commonalities with. There are still stereotypes but the way Asians handle it with humor and other ways makes it less threatening.” Stanley said that Asians are too often portrayed as “unfriendly and super high strung.”

   These stereotypes in the film industry have gone on long enough, and the direction the industry is taking to have an honest representation of people is reassuring.