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The Diversity of Asian Women in Leading Hollywood Roles

There needs to be more diversity in feminism, writes Lindsey Yoo. (And, apparently, in stock photos, too.)

Growing up, we are surrounded by the constant depictions of what the world should be like, molding our minds at a very young age.

Since the beginning, Hollywood has been one of the most famous molds, with romantic cliches illustrating that the woman that appears to be the perfect soulmate of the man has luscious hair, is a bit clumsy, just to show her ‘quirky’ side, and the biggest factor of all, is white.

Now, why does it have to be like this? The only truth reflecting from these biased films is the amount of importance in the roles that Asian women portray. The answer to that is basically…. not much.

They are either a humorous sidekick or the wing-woman to their gorgeous, yet clueless friend, whom they try to support. But, it’s seriously time to move on from these diluted roles, because Asian women truly deserve their own rich tales and have the glowing spotlight illuminate on them for once.

Now, when was the last time you had seen a woman of Asian ethnicity depicting a role with a high significance? According to USC Anneberg School for Communication and Journalism, “Only 1 out of 20 speaking roles go to Asians. And 1% of lead roles in films go to Asians.

This lack of diversity is extremely unjust and almost seems untrue. And you know what’s worst? The fact that there are amazing lead roles which would be flawlessly portrayed by some of the most talented actresses of Asian descent, but are given to white actresses who constantly receive multiple streams of that spotlight.

An example of casting white actresses to define an Asian character is in the movie, ‘Ghost in the Shell’, a 2017 science fiction film based on the Japanese manga of the same name. Scarlett Johansson portrays Major Motoko Kusanagi, whose ethnicity is Japanese, which led to people angrily questioning the reasons behind this.

What further crippled the movie’s positive perspective, was the fact that Scarlett Johansson had been altered through visual effects to seem that she was of Japanese descent, causing many to be outraged for this extremely blatant form of whitewashing.

As an Asian woman myself, I have seen enough TV shows and movies to know that a large proportion of them don’t have a single Asian actress as a dreamy love interest, a popular girl with a reputation of glittery glossy supremacy or even a mysterious girl with crazy secrets. So, casting directors, get your ‘script’ together and start developing a foundation of the new perspective of the women of Hollywood, and not mold, but flourish the minds of the generations to come.

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Shania Rajan
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Shania Rajan is a writer, currently based in Melbourne, Australia.

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