We’ve gone from the proverbial “beggars can’t be choosers,” to “an embarrassment of riches.”
And it’s a good thing.
In my seven years as editor of the Northwest Asian Weekly, I’ve noticed that in the last year—even the last few months—that the faces we see in movies and on television look more and more like us. By “us,” I mean Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).
Showing in theaters nationwide right now: Black Adam, with an AAPI lead (Dwayne Johnson); The Menu featuring Hong Chau; streaming on Netflix is Slumberland featuring Jason Momoa—and there are countless other TV series, almost too many to count.
There was a time when a reporter would pitch a review of a movie or series with an AAPI actor and I would accept—no matter how small the role. I used to say “yes” to everything.
Now, that’s not the case. Now, there’s so much more to choose from. Now, I get to weigh and decide which is worth our time and resources to cover.
According to Focus Asian: State of Consumer Engagement 2022 survey, 40% of Asian consumers reported seeing more Asian representation when it comes to TV content, including in shows such as Chicago Med, Squid Game, Pachinko, The Equalizer, and The Cleaning Lady.
In addition, nearly four in 10 consumers are seeing more nuanced portrayals of Asian characters and communities in scripted content, with dramas ranking as the top genre, according to the survey by Horowitz Research.
Still, there is room for improvement.
Crazy Rich Asians made a splash in 2018 as a film with an all-Asian cast released by a major Hollywood studio. The previous film to fit that bill was The Joy Luck Club, and that was 25 years prior to Crazy Rich Asians. The sequel to Crazy Rich Asians is still in the works.
I look forward to the day when the words “all-Asian cast” are no longer enough for me to bat an eye, or even deemed worthy on its own to be a headline. It is not newsworthy if a movie has an “all white cast”—that is so commonplace. Wouldn’t it be nice if an all-Asian cast was the norm, and not just in Asia….