When you think of a lead actor for a TV show of a movie, who comes into mind first? Now I’m not talking about a specific actor, but their ethnicity. Let me guess, it wasn’t an Asian, was it? If you look closely, the “average” lead actor has to be Caucasian, speak perfect English, have a great body, and just be a good looking actor! I’ve come to notice in of all the movies I have watched, I can barely remember any Asians being in the role of leadership in films. Now recently, times have gotten better, but you literally just count on the tips of your fingers the number of fairly popular Asians leads in movies and TV shows.
How Asians are viewed in the media: The average Asians portrayed in the media are usually the not-so-good-looking ones, or just average at best. They are usually on the nerdy side, and they just seem weird all around. More often than not, the “average” Asian is portrayed like this guy, pictured below. He is just weird, and not that great looking.
Then you have this rare stud.
Take for example, Daniel Dae Kim, he really is one of the rare Asians that have a lead role in the TV show, “Hawaii Five-0”. Kim plays Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly in the series, and he honestly gets a lot of screen time. Over time, people will get used to a person of color being in a leadership role, and pretty soon this will start to create a path for other aspiring actors and actresses. It will also send out a message that it indeed is possible, just work has to be put in. Now, the work may be harder, but at least it’s still achievable. It’s pretty rare that you see an Asian male lead, but in this case, he’s at the top, not only acting, but also directing.
Asians being passed over are not just happening in the film industry, but also in the corporate world. Sure of course there are a lot of Asian employees working for big companies such a Google and Intel, but how many do you see working in the corporate world of these companies? Not much right? According to a Mercury News article, it states that part of the reasoning why Asians aren’t climbing up the corporate ladder is due to the fact of cultural differences. In corporate America, outspoken individuals are the ones who get the corporate positions. Basically, the ones who, not necessarily show off, but rather showcase and put themselves out there are often given a shot at a corporate spot, but with Asian culture, Asians tend to think that just doing a good job will bring in rewards. This can even translate into the military. Take for example General Viet Xuan Luong. There are a lot of Officers in the military promoted often, but how often do you hear of an Asian-American General? This is why it made big news. It’s big because it’s out of the norm, but sometimes, being out of the norm can set an example for others to follow, to prove that there is hope.
Thesis: I discovered that Hollywood as a whole isn’t too willing to cast more Asians because they just don’t want to take a gamble. They just want to stick to what they know, and what they roll with best, because it they take a gamble, chances are they might take a big loss in profit, and the popularity of a certain film. This is a chance for Asians-American actors and actresses to really prove themselves that they are worthy of the big-screen, and that diversity should really matter in the film industry. This can also translate to careers, where Asians are being denied a “high ranking” position in the work environment.
One learning experience that I have gotten so far is from week 4, talking about the influence of advertising. Aside from the marketing strategies, it also had me thinking about my identity that I’m researching. I know that a lot of advertisements only show the good looking Caucasian people, and that it’s the only acceptable look, while Asians are either not portrayed, or just portrayed in a different light. Another experience was when I was working on my annotated bibliography, I came across an article talking about Daniel Dae Kim on how he wants to raise awareness to Asian-Americans taking more lead roles, and how important diversity is. Diversity should be more prominent in Hollywood, and with Kim’s big role, as well as directing, he can be a good example for others to follow suit.
Conclusion: These days, it’s just hard to come by people of color, particularly Asians in roles of leadership, and if in the film industry, lead roles in TV shows and movies. What has to be overcome is the cultural aspect of two different sides. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but if society as a whole starts to accept other cultural aspects, as well as respecting it, then Asians will have a much better and broader opportunity to become leaders in a corporate world, as well as people who want to make it big in the movie industry. The talent and the will to achieve is already there, it’s just the right opportunity that needs to come in order for Asians to prove they really can work and achieve at the same level, or even higher than the standard set by a society that is used to Caucasians taking the lead.
“’Hawaii Five-0’s’ Daniel Dae Kim On His TV Directorial Debut Hollywood’s, ‘Disconcerting’ Diversity Issue.” Author is Ryan Gajewski, published on the “Hollywood Reporter” (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/hawaii-five-o-daniel-dae-778227)
Liedtke , Michael. “Asians Passed Over For Management Roles At Silicon Valley Companies, Study Contends.” The Mercury News, 6 May 2015, www.mercurynews.com/2015/05/06/asians-passed-over-for-management-roles-at-silicon-valley-companies-study-contends/.
Gandhi, Lakshmi. “U.S. Military Promotes First Vietnamese-American General.” NBC News, 11 Aug. 2014, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/u-s-military-promotes-first-vietnamese-american-general-n177936.