8 White Characters Portrayed by Awesome Asian Actors on Screen
To say there’s a lack of representation in the media would be an understatement. Though we’ve come a long way — look at all the Disney Channel shows that feature a black actor as the lead! — we still have a looong way to go; that’s clear when you see how many times white actors portray Asian characters in movies, for instance; white actresses, too. Hearing names like Kyo Kusanagi, Hideo Kuze, Motoko Kusanagi, one would think you’d see someone of Asian descent pop up. Instead, though, those roles were filled by talents who dyed their hair darker, or were even CGI-ed to look like they could, potentially, have Asian ancestry. (As if.)
White-washing is very real, but, like we said, we’ve come a long way. When you think of the original Charlie’s Angels trio, there were three white women. But when the 2000 flick came out, it featured two white women, and — hello! — one Chinese woman! (Thanks for paving the way, Lucy Liu.) It’s been proven that you don’t need to look anything like your book character to have a great impact on fans. So, here are eight white characters portrayed by awesome Asian actors on TV and in movies, proving just the same:
Emily Fields, Pretty Little Liars
Many fans of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars book series were less than thrilled to learn about Shay Mitchell's casting as Emily Fields on the ABC Family (now Freeform) television adaptation. In the novels, Emily has hazel/green eyes, and strawberry blonde hair that's tinted green from chlorine; Shay's physical appearance is pretty much the exact opposite of that.
That backlash from readers probably stung a lot for the actress, especially considering she's half-Filipino (the other half is Scottish & Irish) and grew up in a predominantly white area. "It was the first thing people noticed," she told Yahoo! Style in 2015. "They’d say, 'Are you the daughter of my nanny?' I hated being asked who I was, and all my friends had blonde hair and blue eyes."
As a result, she dyed her tresses to a lighter shade, wore colored contacts and even hid from the sun to leave her skin as pale as possible.
Fortunately, fans started whistling a different tune upon witnessing the brunette beauty in action. She's now a fan-favorite on the show!
Photo: ABC Family