Actress Lucy Liu has found trouble finding work as a leading actress in films and television shows. She was born and raised in Queens to a mother from Beijing and a father from Shanghai and that in itself may be what’s keeping her from leading roles.
Liu, 44, started her career in the early 1990s and has mostly found roles as a supporting actress. When she finds herself cast as part of a major plot line she’s usually some sort of supernatural action hero or villain character whos mastered the martial arts. Think “Charlie’s Angels,” and “Kill Bill.” Interestingly enough she’s typecasted even when she’s hired only for her voice: in her role as Viper in the animated film “Kung Fu Panda” she was a master at the “Snake style of Hung Ga Kung Fu” who tied up her enemies with ribbon. (Yes, she was a ribbon dancer too.)
Lui recently talked about race and being typecasted with the luxury online retailer Net-a-porter.com.
“I wish people wouldn’t just see me as the Asian girl who beats everyone up, or the Asian girl with no emotion. People see Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock in a romantic comedy, but not me. You add race to it, and it became, ‘Well, she’s too Asian’, or, ‘She’s too American’. I kind of got pushed out of both categories. It’s a very strange place to be. You’re not Asian enough and then you’re not American enough, so it gets really frustrating.”
Liu’s wary of playing the racism card, but admits that she had to “push a lot just to get in the room”. “I can’t say that there is no racism - there’s definitely something there that’s not easy, which makes [an acting career] much more difficult.”
All “Best Actress in a leading role” Academy Award winners since 2002 have been white. In 2002, Halle Berry became the first African-American actress to win a Best Actress actress Oscars but since then all winners in the category have been white.