Following the release of this year’s Oscar nominations, news outlets are declaring that the protest, known on twitter as #OscarsSoWhite, over underrepresentation of non-white races is over.
This year may have the largest number of black candidates ever, but it’s important to realize that non-white races include Hispanics, Asians, and many more minorities that received at most one nomination. The amazing black actors and actresses in “Moonlight,” “Fences,” and “Hidden Figures” have rightfully been acknowledged by the academy, but only two non-black minority have been nominated, which are Dev Patel and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Why are other minorities not being nominated? Well, the main reason is that there aren’t enough minorities that have lead roles. Hollywood has become infamous for “white-washing,” or casting white actors for asian roles, and because of this and simple harsh exclusivity, asian actors only play 1% (!) of Hollywood’s leading roles. (Check out this article for more: http://www.teenvogue.com/story/asian-representation-in-hollywood)
That is really frustrating.
Two years ago, coincidentally, my mom’s friend’s son, Ian Chen, was cast in the now-popular TV series Fresh Off the Boat. (by the way I highly-recommend watching it) FOTB is known for being one of the few TV shows with asians in the leading roles, and the actress who plays the strict but lovable mom, Constance Wu, has bravely spoken up about the lack of asians in the industry. In an NY Mag interview, she points out that the rarity of such a show like FOTB “shines a light on how invisible Asians were previously in the industry.”
She and other minority actors and actresses are stepping forward to the issue. But, real change will only happen if the people at the top of the industry realize, admit, and face head on the #SoWhite problem instead of a dismissive “sorry.” The nominations may be more diverse this year, but the issue is still real and raw, and hopefully, with more discussion and more attention, the nominations next year will be more inclusive.