Culture

This Asian Actress Lays Out Hollywood’s Whitewashing Problem With Just Four Words On A T-Shirt

by Penn Collins

April 4, 2017

Michele Selene Ang is a very accomplished actress, starring in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, but she’s far from a household name. While most actors never make it to superstardom, for non-whites in the entertainment industry, it’s almost a certainty. While there are certainly exceptions, Hollywood has made whitewashing ethnic roles and scripts to accommodate white American audiences a standard practice. 

With so many roles being taken off the table entirely for actors and actresses simply because of their race, it’s hard not to see it as a sort of systematic repression. 

Awareness of the issue is growing, but the point still hasn’t been driven home for many moviegoers and studio execs. So Michele, who can always be herself to her Instagram audience, rocked a simple, damning shirt highlighting the most recent instances of egregious whitewashing

“Scarlett&Emma&Tilda&Matt” are Scarlet Johansson, who was cast as an Asian character in Ghost in the Shell; Emma Stone, playing a character written as Pacific Islander in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha; Tilda Swinton, who played an Asian mystic in Doctor Strange; and Matt Damon, who portrayed a white hero in the Asian-ensemble action film The Great Wall

Every actor worries about nailing their auditions, getting discovered and making it big. But for non-white actors, they face that struggle knowing that roles written for them are being changed to suit white actors. Even as Hollywood claims to embrace diversity with Oscar nods and diverse casting, the star-making roles are regularly taken just out of reach, reserved for the “bankable” white actors. It’s easy to imagine how offensive and frustrating this is for actors – it has been for a long time. 

With posts like Michele’s, hopefully it will become more offensive and frustrating for everyone else as well. 

The shirts are available for sale, so it’s likely the message of Michele’s post is going to travel a little further than Instagram. 

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This Asian Actress Lays Out Hollywood’s Whitewashing Problem With Just Four Words On A T-Shirt