The race to representation

Bhoomi Sharma, Photography Editor


Hollywood has a history of white-washing it’s POC characters, erasing the existence of people of colour way too often. The first coloured actor, and the first asian actor was only introduced in the early 1900’s. Since then, more and more actors of colours have appeared on the big screen, and today we have casts full POC, such as “Black Panther” (2018) and “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018). “Queen of Katwe”(2016) and “Hidden Figures”(2016) have women of colour and Netflix’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”(2018) brings asian representation. Many movies exist where studios have erased people of color, and avoided casting them into main roles.

In 2015, Emma Stone played a half asian character in the movie ‘Aloha’, and it received a huge wave of backlash, and it’s only one of the million movies with an overwhelmingly white cast in places that people of colour are supposed to be, but aren’t shown. Yellowface – a non-asian, usually white, actor, , appearing to be of asian descent, is not that uncommon. Productions like “Death Note” and “Ghost in the Shell” have a different issue: white-washing their main characters, portraying characters of color as white, saying it’s supposed to be an “Americanized version.

Kush Soni, Neuqua Senior spoke about the plays that have been selected at the companies for which he auditions,, and how they have changed. He did not have the opportunity to play characters of his culture, simply because plays that had different cultural backgrounds were rarely chosen by directors, and when they were, people of the right ethnicity were not chosen to play the leads. He said directors need to  “[be] specific with [the] actors…there’s so many of us; [they] need to find the right one.”

Taraji P Henson an African American actress with several Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe under her belt, in her new memoir, “Around the Way Girl”’ writes that black actors have to constantly “dive for the crumbs of the scraps” when it comes to getting the big roles against their white co-stars. Actress Chloe Bennet from Marvel’s “Agents of Shield” has also previously spoken of how she changed her last name from ‘Wang”because it decreased her chances of getting roles, also mentioning that most roles for characters of asian descent have been taken by caucasians.

Despite the erasure, people of color are gaining representation in the realm of entertainment. Kush Soni talked about plays with people of color getting more attention, such as “Guards of the Taj”,”‘Mulan” “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” People of colour are now getting more recognition and opportunity, “a bunch of middle eastern people finally [took] the roles…this is the kind of theatre I wanna see.” Consumers’ desire to see diverse stories with accurate representation has created a shift in the entertainment industry.