Actor Asks Fellow Stars to Boycott Show After Asian Actress Cast in Native Role
White-washing remains a real problem in Hollywood. Do you know how many white women have portrayed Asian characters over the years? A lot. And in very recent years, we might add. Emma Stone played a character named Allison Ng, a half-Chinese/half-Native Hawaiian woman, in 2015’s Aloha; Scarlett Johansson portrayed a character named Motoko Kusanagi in 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, a movie in which producers reportedly ran tests to make white actors appear Asian(?!?!?!); Elizabeth Banks took on the iconic role of Rita Repulsa in the 2017 Power Rangers reboot. (If you’re a fan of the OG PR, then you’d know Rita is an Asian woman.) See? It’s a problem.
So when an Asian woman is cast in any movie or on a television series, many rejoice, calling it a win for the Asian community. HOWEVER, that is so NOT the case with the recent casting of Kelsey Asbille (former Kelsey Chow), who you may recognize from her roles on One Tree Hill & Teen Wolf, on the upcoming TV show Yellowstone, as she’s tapped to portray a Native American woman.
Though the casting isn’t technically white-washing, it’s similar. Are there no actual Native American actresses to play the part? Hardly. You may not be able to think of any names, though, because they’re so frequently disregarded. That’s exactly why Native American actor Adam Beach, who played Slipknot in Suicide Squad, is asking his fellow Natives to boycott the project:
“Failure in Diversity,” he began on Instagram. “I’m asking my Native Actors to stay away from this project. “Yellowstone” is telling the world that there are no Native actresses capable of leading a TV show. Unless your great-great grandparents are Cherokee.”
“I speak on behalf of all my woman Natives who work so hard to get noticed and they wake up to this,” he wrote in a separate comment underneath the photo.
According to reports, the 25-year-old actress is half-white/half-Taiwanese “with some Cherokee ancestry.” Others state that she was born to a “Chinese-Taiwanese father and a mother of English and Cherokee descent.” Either way, she reportedly has some Native American in her ancestry, but her ethnicity is primarily Asian and white.