Several AAPI actors recently shared what it’s like to thrive in Hollywood, where Asian men have long been cast in supporting roles that perpetuate racial stereotypes.
Perspectives on Representation: Nico Hiraga (“Moxie”), Charles Melton (“Riverdale”), Danny Pudi (“Mythic Quest”), Vincent Rodriguez III (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) and George Takei (“Star Trek”) spoke with Weekly entertainment on the industry that treats AAPI men like unwanted sidekicks.
Pudi, Hiraga, Melton and Rodriguez lamented the lack of lead male roles for Asian men to relate or admire as children.
Takei, whose iconic Hikaru Sulu role in “Star Trek” propelled him to worldwide fame, credited his “heroic vision” to his father and watching “Bruce Lee, Toshiro Mifune and all of the Kurosawa movies” in growing.
The lack of representation and stereotypical roles affected the actors in the way they approached their careers. Pudi said he feels the pressure to be “everything for everyone,” while Rodriguez has learned to appreciate small wins by getting lead roles after being looked down upon in the past.
Hiraga had limited his expectations and initially thought his role in “Moxie” was for a white man, saying, “There’s no way they’re giving it to a Hapa child.”
Beyond martial arts: Interviewees also spoke of the impact of Hollywood’s obsession with the “every Asians knows martial arts” trope, fueled by the popularity of Bruce Lee and martial arts movies in general.
“We don’t need to kick someone in the face or punch someone in the face,” said Melton. “We have a vulnerable side to express and a story to tell.
Takei remembered being able to take his shirt off and flex his muscles on “Star Trek” in the ’60s, even before Bruce Lee. “I saw The Adventures of Robin Hood and I loved fencing,” he said. “[The writer] I worked this out in one of our episodes and had to take my shirt off and pick up my fencing paper and terrorize the Starship Enterprise. “
To react to Dwayne Johnson holds a third of API lead roles, Melton said there “should be a lot more movies and stories to tell, not just one or two” actors.
Pudi has said he hopes there will be room for roles that concern him personally. “I’ve always felt like a stranger, but at the same time I’m a father, I’m a husband, I’ve run marathons,” he said. “Seeing films like Minari, for example, is this expansion of the idea of masculinity, that it can mean a lot of things.”
Rodriguez is optimistic about the direction the industry is taking: “We’re at this boiling point of acceptance; voices are rising… It’s just another brick we can put on this wall. I think we are building something beautiful. “
Featured Image via CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) (left, right)
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