Asians in Hollywood Mobilizing With Launch of Facebook Page, Renewed Fight to Diversify Industry

Asian Actors Fight for Hollywood Diversity - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Janet Yang

Asian Actors Fight for Hollywood Diversity - Publicity - H 2016

To remain an active part of the diversity conversation, the group Asians in Hollywood followed a May meeting at the Academy — which included George Takei, president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and CEO Dawn Hudson — with the launch of its Facebook page during the July 4 holiday, quickly racking up nearly 1,400 likes.

"We are gathering as many names as possible and we are becoming quite a formidable group now. There is obviously power in numbers," producer Janet Yang (The People vs. Larry Flynt) tells THR. She adds that the mission is multi-faceted including directives to increase awareness, create a more inclusive environment, and develop projects to show that "diversity sells."

"Everyone who produces and finances content should be taking notice. China should also add a big dollop of, 'Wake up!'" says Yang.

There's no better time than the present, Yang adds, especially in a year that featured stereotypical Asian jokes from host Chris Rock at the Oscars, as well as white-washing controversies on such projects as anime adaptation Ghosts in the Shell, which stars Scarlett Johansson in the lead role.

That said, Yang makes it clear they're not interested in being the minority police. "We don't want to be a finger-pointing group. There's enough of that. We want to help find positive solutions to a systemic problem. Most people, in our opinion, are not intentionally demeaning in their portrayal of Asians or in overlooking Asian actors for roles. It is the result of a hundred years of Hollywood making films from a particular point of view," Yang says. "If we don't change the perception of us in entertainment and media, we will forever be sidelined."

And they don't expect to stand on the lines alone. Yang adds that the group will soon to be open to other members. "Over time, we would like to include non-Asian members who also feel marginalized and underrepresented," she says. "The issues are the same, and we are grateful to the African-American community for proving that real change is possible." 

A version of this story first appeared in the July 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.