COMMENTARY

COMMENTARY: Asian Actors in Hollywood on the Books and Films That Inspired Them

6 June 2019

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COMMENTARY: Asian Actors in Hollywood on the Books and Films That Inspired Them

“There’s a quote that, ‘You cannot be what you cannot see,’ and we think there’s a lot of truth in that,” says Peter Ash Lee, the New York-based editor behind the Asian-American arts and culture magazine Burdock. “Growing up, we didn’t see many reflections of ourselves in media, and when we did, they were often portrayals lacking any depth.”

The feelings of being “unseen” and a desire for multi-dimensional Asian-American experiences were what inspired Lee and his sister, Hannah, to create Burdock, which launched in April at New York’s Apex for Youth Gala (an event where Gemma Chan and Olivia Munn were recognized, among others, for their contributions to underserved Asian and immigrant youth in the city).

What is it like being an Asian actor in Hollywood right now?

Janel Parrish, “To All the Boys I Loved Before,” “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists”
Growing up in the industry, if you didn’t look like the “girl next door” or the “All-American girl” it was very difficult to get jobs. You would audition and then hear feedback like, “She was great, but we don’t know how to place her; she doesn’t fit into a family.”

Arden Cho, “Teen Wolf”
I used to be told, “If you want to be the lead, go act in Korea or an Asian country,” but that never made sense to me because I am American. My mom and dad are from South Korea and I speak Korean, but I was born in the States.

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