Asians on Twitter got outraged after a Hollywood casting director allegedly said Asian actors were more difficult to cast because they were not very "expressive."
In an article published by Paste Magazine, Nancy Wang Yuen, a sociologist, recalls talking to an unnamed casting director regarding Asians. "I work with a lot of different people and Asians are a challenge to cast because most casting directors feel as though they're not very expressive," the Hollywood casting director allegedly told Yuen. "They're very shut down in their emotions...where they really have to act and get some kind of performance out...it's a challenge."
The hashtag #ExpressiveAsians was born and went viral instantly, prompting netizens everywhere to showcase just how expressive Asians are.
Korean American actor Edward Hong spoke about the plight of Asian American actors. "In Hollywood, there are a lot of opportunities, but it is always for small roles with one-liners," Hong said in an interview. "If you want to be a store owner, the nail salon lady or the IT-tech guy, those are the parts, but rarely do we get a chance to be the main character."
The #OscarsSoWhite campaign hit hard on Hollywood's hiring and casting practices. After the event, some progress has been made in this area. The film and TV industries have become aware of diversity in terms of casting. Television programs headlined by minorities, such as Fox's "Empire" and ABC's "Black-ish," have turned in strong ratings. Netflix's "Master of None" stars the popular comedian Aziz Ansari, whose parents emigrated from India.
Other Asian Americans have been cast in leading roles in shows like ABC's "Fresh Off the Boat," loosely based around the experiences of an Asian immigrant family in the 1980s, ABC's "Designated Survivor," which depicts a determined FBI agent played by Maggie Q, and AMC's martial arts drama "Into the Badlands," which stars Daniel Wu as a talented warrior.
However, the issue persists, specially for Asian Americans. Filmmakers continue to rely on white actors to portray Asians on screen. Netflix's upcoming adaptation of a Japanese manga, "Death Note," sparked controversy when a producer, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, said the production searched for Asian actors but "couldn't find the right person," because actors from Asia "didn't speak the perfect English."
"The Chinese actors say: 'We are just flower vases. We don't speak; we just stand there and look pretty,' said Edward Hong, talking about the constant challenges Asians have to face in Hollywood.