Priyanka Chopra, Aziza Ansari and More Discuss Asian Whitewashing in Hollywood
Several of Hollywood’s hottest actors share their thoughts on a casting issue that has plagued the industry.
“I can’t control what other people do. It’s a problem that, unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for,” Ansari told Entertainment Tonight. “It’s going to take a long time.”
The ongoing issue of white actors landing roles originally intended for Asian performers has a long history in Hollywood. In fact, Ansari is the first South Asian actor ever to be nominated for a leading role at the Primetime Emmys this year.
“As an Asian-American, there’s a certain feeling that I get that the media subliminally tells you that you’re secondary in a lot of ways,” Glenn said. “That, unfortunately, hasn’t changed much in the film industry.”
Two forthcoming films, Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell, have found themselves at the center of this debate because both Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson’s roles were Asian in the source material. So clearly this is not a problem of the past.
Chopra, who stars in Quantico, offered that, for her, it’s about the quality of the performer and what they can bring to the role.
“The way I look at it, I should not be defined by the color of my skin,” she said. “I should be defined by who is the best person for the job because it’s subjective. If you look around, the world doesn’t look like one person. Everyone is so different from one to the other in the U.S., which is an amalgamation of cultures from all over the world.”
Ansari also pointed out that not only is whitewashing problematic, but minorities that do appear in films and TV shows are often relegated to token capacities.
“You can watch something and it’ll be a bunch of white guys and there’ll be this one black friend,” Ansari observed. “You’re kind of like, ‘Would that guy really be hanging out with them?’ Also, that guy always goes away. Like, he never has the main story. Whoever the white guys are have the main thing.”
When considering his hopes for the future, Ansari referenced The Fast and the Furious films as examples of a multicultural cast that audiences are eager to see more of.
“That’s a very diverse, real group of people. That looks like America to people. Hopefully, it becomes a thing where audiences respond to it and it takes effect in that way as well.”