Eight of Hollywood’s ‘Fierce Asians’ Share Tales of Industry Racism

By Sameer Rao Jun 20, 2016

Over the last few months, several notable Asian-American actors, comedians and creative personalities have participated in grassroots and social media campaigns protesting their communities’ erasure and marginalization in Hollywood. Eight of them offered frank perspectives on those experiences in a new piece for Mashable

Constance Wu ("Fresh Off the Boat"), Ken Jeong ("Dr. Ken"), comedian Margaret Cho, Waris Ahluwalia ("The Grand Budapest Hotel"), Nora "Awkwafina" Lum, Vincent Rodriguez III ("Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"), John Chu (director, "Now You See Me 2") and Dao-Yi Chow (designer, DKNY) each told stories about their trials and successes in an entertainment industry that too often rewards their talent with stereotypical roles and pigeonholed capacities. Here are some key quotes:

"We need more engagement and we need more support from everyone else. It’s getting better and certainly we have had our own civil rights revolutions along the way. We need to have more conversation and more involvement as everyone else does, too. We have to get this idea of invisibility out of our heads and [see] we are powerful and we are important to all of these conversations." —Margaret Cho

"I wanted to normalize an Asian-American family and it was a quiet progress that I wanted to make. I wanted to show that we were a normal all-American family that happened to be Asian-American. The last thing I would have wanted was it to sound like it was written by a White man, which is why I’m there producing, casting and writing everything." —Ken Jeong on his show, "Dr. Ken."

"The most dangerous thing about institutional racism isn’t the outer moustache-y comment like, "get out of here you this and that!" it’s what people are oblivious to. It’s when people are passively racist like, "You can’t put an Asian as the lead, it doesn’t make sense,’ that’s extremely harmful." —John Chu

"Had I been White, after my first movie, which was ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,’ by Wes Anderson, I would’ve had agents knocking at my door. I know that’s 100 percent true. But because I represent something that’s an unknown, unclear, different, an ‘other,’ whatever that ‘other is.’ Nobody really knows what to do with these ‘others.’" —Waris Ahluwalia

"For some people it’s offensive for Americans to see an Asian women do her thing. It affects people in a negative way and reveals a dark truth about how the U.S. views minority women. I think some of my battle videos there are comments where people are reacting out of a, ‘wow, it’s offensive that an Asian woman is outspoken.’ People in this country can’t accept that yet." —Nora "Awkwafina" Lum

"Where are the Asian leading men? Well we’re being kicked to the ground, we’re not being supported. We’re not considered sexy or masculine, this or that. When you start hearing something enough, you start to believe it. But our world is changing, and I think we’re starting to see that that’s not the end-all be-all. That’s not the only answer." —Vincent Rodriguez III

"It’s that model minority myth that has impacted us in a negative way. People assume you’re straight. You don’t need any help with that, you don’t need attention. ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. You never say anything, you’re good, right?’" —Dao-Yi Chow

"There are fierce Asians out there, but we need more fierce Asians. Whenever I think about speaking, I always think about a young, Asian-American girl who feels that I’m not representing her. I feel that girl’s pain. My goal is to hopefully expand opportunities for Asian-American girls who aren’t like me to have their own platform. Because we are diverse, we are different, we aren’t the same." —Constance Wu 

Read the full article here.