Hollywood is notorious for its poor representation of actors across all genders and races. For years, there has been plenty of backlash over how minorities are treated and portrayed within the entertainment industry, but there has been some progress lately in the casting of these individuals in movies.
There have only been a small number of opportunities given to minority actors, and often these roles are instead given to white actors. For example, in 2016 white actor Scarlett Johansson was cast as the lead in Ghost in the Shell, a recreation of a Japanese anime. Additionally, The Great Wall, a 2016 film about China, starred Matt Damon playing a European lead instead of the film casting a Chinese actor for the main role.
After these two castings specifically, there was a significant amount of backlash on social media. Perhaps the criticism is why Hollywood has taken a step forward just last week in its controversial whitewashing by casting Chinese-American actor Liu Yifei in the titular role of the live-action remake of Disney’s 1998 animated film Mulan.
Contrary to the negative reception of the whitewashing of Asian characters, the internet has celebrated this casting as a win. There is hope for more fair employment in the film itself, as well as other films that call upon non-white actors to play parts specific to their ethnic background.
It’s a huge step forward for a person of color be put in a racially appropriate role. A lot of actors from marginalized groups, however, still don’t have many chances to star in movies, specifically ones that do not directly revolve around their race.
For instance, black actors are often typecast into roles specifically because of their race. Take 12 Years a Slave or Get Out as an example. Both are fantastic movies, especially in the representation of black actors, but both films use the race of the actors to tell the story, rather than just simply having them in the film because of their merit as an actor.
That’s not to say that all non-white actors are typecast, but it’s a major trend in Hollywood. Conversely, the latest Star Wars films Rogue One, released in 2016, featured an incredibly diverse cast with Mexican actor Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed of Indian descent and black actor Forest Whitaker to name a few.
All of these actors were not typecast into roles in this film, but instead just showed a diverse representation of people, which is how casting should be.
While it’s commendable that a Chinese-American actor was chosen to represent an actual Chinese character, it shouldn’t be so momentous. It’s crazy that in 2017 people are shocked and relieved to see that someone was actually cast in a role consistent with their race.
By default, minority actors should have chances to play roles that correlate to their race. It is also imperative that there are more opportunities for non-white actors to play roles that do not just have to do with the color of their skin.
White actors seem to be the default in Hollywood, but hopefully as time goes on, it won’t be so celebrated that someone of the right race was cast into the correct role; it should just happen.u